Kiikatsuura: Small Town Pleasantries
Descending the stairs from Kiikatsuura Station in Wakayama, visitors are immediately taken back in time to slow life in seaside Japan. Near the exit, a footbath awaits those with time to kill before the next train – which in small-town Japan is often every hour or so – and the bus station beckons from across the rotunda. At any time of day, there is a silent buzz of life though residents are far and few.
Small coastal towns like Kiikatsuura seem to be eternally unchanging. Strolling down the main streets of the town, visitors can find small family restaurants, a patisserie, souvenir stores, a grocer, and many snack shops (drinking establishments). In such a place, the choices may be slim, but the welcome is always worthwhile.
In small communities such as this one, maps and navigation systems are completely unnecessary. Winding roads, nameless streets, and hidden alleys bewilder navigation tools, thus rendering them useless. Part of the adventure is getting a little lost (and easily finding one’s way thereafter).
This adventurer happened upon a coffee shop / boutique owned by an older man who gushed about his experiences in New York long ago when he was in charge of filming a commercial there. It is little, unexpected interactions like this that make experiences in tiny towns worth the while. Meeting new people and learning about their communities and perspectives is the most eye-opening way into a culture possible.
Kiikatsuura Station is accessible from Shingu Station by train. Buses from Kiikatsuura Station take visitors to the World Heritage sites of the Kumano Pilgrimage trail. Be sure to stroll through the town for a relaxing break!
[posted by Nadia]
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