Tanabe is a wonderful base to begin your exploration of the Kumano region.
There are several towns and cities in Japan called Tanabe. It is easy to go to a different location instead of going to Kii-Tanabe.
The Kii Peninsula is the location of Tanabe of Kumano Kodo fame. It is located south east of Osaka at the southern most point of Honshu Island, the main island of Japan.
Kii is also the old name for the area before
Japan was unified into one country. It was called Kii-no-Kuni, literally the “Country of Kii.” References to Kii-no-Kuni can be found in the oldest known Japanese literature, Kojiki, written in the seventh century. It is recorded that the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu passed through Kii-no-Kuni on his way to Nara where the first court of ancient Japan was established.
There are three other towns called Tanabe in the Kansai region that encompasses the prefectures of Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga. It is not surprising given that “Ta “(田) means “rice field” and “be”(辺) means “area.” There are many rice fields in Japan.
Kii-Tanabe is the third largest city in Japan in terms of area although the population is low for such a wide area of 1026.77 ㎢. There are 80,117 people in 35,714 households in the city. You can drive more than two hours from downtown Tanabe to the outlying areas and still be within the city limits. The most populated area of Tanabe hugs the coastline along Tanabe Bay.
Tanabe is the second largest city in Wakayama Prefecture and has a wide variety of restaurants, shopping areas, fishing ports and drinking areas.
(The next post in this series about Tanabe will be coming soon.)