A variety of bus lines/companies service Wakayama prefecture; from airport
transfers, to regional bus lines and express/charter services between key areas such
as Kii-Tanabe, the Shirahama Onsen area, the Kumano Kodo region, Koyasan, Shingu and
Nara. From time to time, special passes are also available.
Wakayama City area is serviced by Wakayama Bus line. Passengers carrying a valid
‘Kansai Thru Pass’ can use this on local city buses. The bus line also offers day
passes for unlimited rides. The system however is not geared for non-Japanese
speakers, with signage and information typically only available in Japanese.
For travel in southern Wakayama, operators covering the
stretch between the coastal Shirahama Onsen area and connecting through to the
Kumano Kodo region via Wakayama's inland area, and then down to Kushimoto via Shingu
include: Kumano Bus, Meiko Bus, Nara Kotsu. Between Kii-Tanabe and the northern area
of Koyasan, the Ryujin and Nankai Rinkan bus lines operate, with the latter also
providing local service in the Koyasan area.
It takes approximately 1 h 15 min on the Ryujin bus service
from Kii-Tanabe to the onsen town of Ryujin, and a further 2 h 15 min to reach
Koyasan on the Nankai Rinkan bus service. The Express bus service on the Koya Ryujin
Skyline to destinations such as Gomadanzan enroute to the Kumano Kodo area requires
a reservation. When checking the bus schedule with the local tourist office, either
in Koyasan or Kii-Tanabe ask for language assistance to make your booking. To ensure
you get a seat, try to book a day in advance.
To access the Kumano Kodo area, from Kii-Tanabe to Kumano
Hongu Taisha, travel time takes approximately 2 h on the Ryujin Bus service. Kumano
Hongu Taisha is also accessible directly from the Shirahama Onsen area on the Meiko
Bus line and takes approximately 1 h 10 min. This line also connects to the coastal
city of Shingu, taking about 1 h 15 min. No reservations are required to ride the
Meiko Bus rapid service between the Shirahama Onsen area and Shingu.
Nara Kotsu offers bus service which connects Shingu, Kumano
Hongu Taisha and Gojo in Nara Prefecture, north of Wakayama. The service from Shingu
to Kumano Taisha takes approximately 1 h 15 min, and the onward journey from there
to Gojo is an additional 3h 50 min.
Riding Local Buses
Enter through the rear door and take a ticket. To request a
stop, press one of the lit-up buttons located throughout the bus. Fares are
calculated by distance traveled, so match the number on your ticket to the fare
information displayed on the electronic chart at the front of the bus. If you have
the exact change, you can put it directly into the box next to the driver, or you
can use the change machine to change ¥1,000 bills where necessary. The driver will
Express Bus Services
Various companies provide express highway bus service
connecting Wakayama’s main cities (Wakayama City, Shirahama, Shingu) to Osaka, Tokyo
and Nara. They offer a budget alternative for passengers who do not mind taking an
overnight bus. Some lines and operators such as the Meiko Bus service between Osaka
and Shirahama run several times a day.
Meiko Bus offers express service between Osaka and
Shirahama, making several stops along the way including at Tanabe Station. Fares are
very reasonably priced, and the journey takes about 3 h 40 mins depending on
traffic. This bus line also provides service between Wakayama City and Shirahama,
and can be accessed from both the JR Wakayama and Nankai Wakayama-shi Stations.
Advance reservations are required, call ahead to book your seat then pay before you
travel. Their call center operates in Japanese, however local tourist offices
provide language assistance.
1. Enter buses from the back and take a numbered ticket if
2. Press the stop button when approaching your
3. Fares are displayed on an electronic chart. Check the
number of your ticket against it.
4. The exact amount must be paid into the fare box. Use the money changer if necessary.