This is a three-part story which began at dawn, with me traveling all the way from Nara to Wakayama. In Wakayama, Sandanbaki Cliffs wes the first place I visited. After spending a couple of hours at the cliffs I walked down to the lovely Shirahama beach.
The bright morning had grown into a lovely afternoon. I was in the mood for a long walk, so I left the white sands of Shirahama Beach and started my walk towards Engetsu Island.
Engetsu Island is a small white sandstone island just off Shirahama’s coast in Wakayama Prefecture. From the beach, it took me about 30 minutes on foot to reach the Engetsu viewpoint. Buses are available, but they run at long intervals, so you have to time yourself perfectly or you will end up losing a lot of time waiting.
The rock island’s formal name is Takashima, but it is widely known as Engetsuto, which is literally translated to “round moon island”. This is due to the round-shaped arch in the center of the island. Along the coast there are several points where stairs lead down into the rock formations. It was still early so I walked past the sunset viewpoint towards the end of the coastline.
Engetsu Island is also a place of historical significance, as it was the site of a major battle between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the Genpei War in the 12th century.
On the way I passed an aquarium and a Glass boat ride. The rides on the glass boat are scheduled at hourly intervals. I had a free ticket to the glass boat from my all day pass but I was more in anticipation of seeing the thrilling sunset.
As I walked past the dock, I saw a cave at the edge of the coast. I had some 30 minutes on my clock so I went inside. It’s a small cave that opens up towards the sea.
I was thirsty after the long walk. After grabbing a Coke from a nearby vending machine, I started my walk back to the sunset viewpoint.
Sunset at Engetsu Island
The tide was low and the rocky banks were a perfect place to sit and gaze at this marvel of nature. I went down and sat at one of the boulders nearest to the sunset point. At times the tide goes so low that people can even walk to the island, but it is forbidden because the island is not very stable and sea urchins lying on the sea-bottom can cause injuries.
The island’s sandstone rocks have become less stable throughout the years The arch was artificially repaired in 2011 to make it earthquake-proof. I sat there for some time, lost in the stunning beauty amidst the sea.
As the sun slowly descended, I went up the stairs to the viewpoint. A small crowd had gathered, mostly locals. The sun was almost ready to show itself inside the hollow arch, so I quickly set up my gear and got ready for the iconic shot. Some thick clouds on the horizon did not allow the sun to stay for long.It came and went away so fast, but I got my shot!
This shot was taken handheld as a huge crowd had gathered to witness the amazing sun as it passed within the arch of Engetsu
After the sunset I walked back towards the beach. Buses are rare this side of the town and I hoped to have better luck getting one from near Shirahama beach. However on reaching the bus stop, I figured it was best if I walked back all the way to the station rather than wait half an hour for the next bus to come along.
Because I walked to most of the places, I didn’t use the bus pass to its full extent. The train arrived on time and I was on my way back home.
Engetsu Island is a unique blend of natural beauty and human history. The island’s unique shape, picturesque scenery and the lighthouse are some of the main attractions that draw visitors to the island. The island is also a popular spot for photography, with its beautiful landscapes, sunsets and sunrises. A day trip from Osaka to Wakayama can be easily done and if you start early you can visit all the three interesting spots that I was able to cover. After the day tour, the sunset at Engetsu is like a cherry topping. If you are in Shirahama, it a must visit place. An all day bus pass costs 1100 Yen. It covers all the major attractions in Shirahama including the thrilling Sandanbeki cliffs.
Thanks for reading. Please do leave me a comment if you liked the post follow my story as I come back to Wakayama in a couple of days to visit the magnificent Nachi Falls.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based on the time I visited the premises. Note that there might be changes in the prices of merchandise and admission fees that might have occurred after this article was published. At times the facility might also be closed for repairs or for variety of other reasons. Kindly contact the facility or facilities mentioned in this article directly before visiting.
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Credits: The historical information presented herein is gathered mostly from local guides that were re-inforced via historical writings.