Wakayama | Japan
Wakayama (和歌山市 Wakayama-shi, Japanese: [ɰakaꜜjama]) is the capital city of Wakayama Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan.
Mount Kōya (高野山 Kōya-san) in the Ito District is the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is home to one of the first Japanese style Buddhist temples in Japan and remains a pilgrimage site and an increasingly popular tourist destination as people flock to see its ancient temples set amidst the towering cedar trees at the top of the mountain. The Sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range extend for miles throughout the prefecture and together have been recognized as Japan's 11th UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Kumano Shrines are on the southern tip of the prefecture. Tomogashima (a cluster of four islands) is part of the prefecture.
The area south of the “Central Tectonic Line” is called Nanki (南紀), and includes the most poleward living coral reefs in the world due to the presence of the warm Kuroshio Current, though these are threatened by global warming and human interference. Because of the Kuroshio’s strong influence, the climate of Nankii is the wettest in the Earth’s subtropics with rainfall in the southern mountains believed to reach 5 metres (200 in) per year and averaging 3.85 metres (151.6 in) in the southeastern town of Owase, comparable to Ketchikan, Alaska or Tortel in southern Chile. When typhoons hit Japan, the Kii Peninsula is typically the worst affected area and daily rainfalls as high as 940 millimetres (37 in) are not unknown.
Most of the Kii Peninsula is dense temperate rainforest since the climate even in the very limited lowlands is too wet for agriculture, and much of the coast consists of networks of small rias into which flow very steep and rapid streams characterised by a large number of high waterfalls. Forestry and fishing were the traditional economic mainstays of the region and remain important even today despite a declining population and labour force.
The dialects of the people from the Kansai region, commonly called Kansai-ben, have their own variations of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Kansai-ben is the group of dialects spoken in the Kansai area, but is often treated as a dialect in its own right.
Kansai is one of the most prosperous areas for baseball in Japan. Two Nippon Professional Baseball teams, Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes, are based in Kansai. Koshien Stadium, the home stadium of the Hanshin Tigers, is also famous for the nationwide high school baseball tournaments. In association football, the Kansai Soccer League was founded in 1966 and currently has 16 teams in two divisions. Cerezo Osaka, Gamba Osaka, and Vissel Kobe belong to J. League Division 1 and Kyoto Sanga F.C. belongs to J. League Division 2, the top professional leagues in Japan.
As of 2002 there were 12 international schools for foreign expatriates in the Kansai region. Alex Stewart of The Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan wrote that this made the Kansai region one of two places in Japan, the other being the Tokyo area, with significant education options available for foreign expatriates with dependent children. Historically expatriates preferred to live in Kobe, with a concentration of them being in and around Rokko Island as of 2002; the Osaka area did not get an international school for foreign expatriates until 1991.
The Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake of 1995 caused a decline in demand for international schools, as there were about 2,500 U.S. nationals each resident in Osaka and Kobe after the earthquake while the pre-earthquake number each was about 5,000. American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Kansai chapter president Norman Solberg stated that since 2002 the numbers of expatriates in Kansai were recovering "but the fact is there is still a persistent exodus to Tokyo."
As of 2002 the largest international school for expatriates in the Kansai region was Canadian Academy in Kobe. There are two European international schools in Kansai: Deutsche Schule Kobe/European School in Kobe and Lycée Français de Kyoto (formerly École française du Kansai) in Kyoto.