Translated by Sandy Lau
Relax At Guesthouse RICO In Wakayama – Experience The Warmth Of Rural Japan
Written by Yuji
After exploring bustling Osaka and Kyoto, how about taking a trip to Wakayama? Stay at an international traveler-friendly guesthouse and visit wonderful places nearby - a traditional fishing area, a temple, and fabulous scenery!
Enjoy the Tranquility of Wakayama
There may be only a few people who have a clear image of Wakayama Prefecture when they hear its name at first.
Wakayama is a prefecture with several historic tourist areas. These include Mt. Koya, a sacred land for Japanese Buddhism, Kumano Kodo, a World Heritage Site, and Nachi Falls, one of Japan’s top three great waterfalls.
Many people go to Wakayama after visiting Osaka and Kyoto. After enjoying these busy sightseeing areas, travelers might feel like enjoying a slower pace to their vacation.
There is a place ideal for this kind of travel in Wakayama that allows visitors to stay and relax. That place is Guesthouse RICO, a guesthouse a fifteen minute walk from JR Wakayama Station, near the town’s center.
Guesthouse RICO and its Green Exterior
The entrance is glass-paned and has an open feel to it. The wooden door and plants decorating the front of the building make a particularly striking impression.
Guesthouse RICO was renovated from an apartment and rebuilt in 2015. In fact, the doors of each room are from the former apartment.
Travelers of all occupations come here to stay. During a visit, we asked a designer and DJ their thoughts on the atmosphere of the guesthouse, they replied, “The design inspired my creative urge.”
Let’s take a closer look at the accommodation with pictures!
A Japanese-Style Room You Can Freely Use
Available rooms include dormitories and private rooms. There are three types of dormitory rooms: female-only, male-only, and mixed (3,200 yen per night including tax). You can spend your time leisurely in a spacious area as each room has high ceilings and wide passages.
One of Guesthouse RICO’s greatest traits is the fact that their gender-segregated dormitories have a Japanese-style room attached to them. These rooms can also become one huge room by opening the sliding screen doors.
The room is a communal space, so you can use it as you like. For example, you can lie down on top of the tatami or spread out a map and plan out the rest of your trip. The space is a great way to converse and make friends with the other guests, too.
Private Rooms for Couples and Families
If you’re planning a trip as a couple, then how about a double room with privacy? It is 7,500 yen per night including tax for a two-person room. There are showers, restrooms, and washrooms on each floor that are shared with other guests.
In this room, you can take time to reflect on your trip with just the two of you. Share what you thought and felt while looking back over your pictures and pamphlets you’ve collected in this quiet space.
Other private rooms that are exclusively Japanese-style are also available (10,000 yen per night including tax for a five-person room). With this room, you feel will at home with family or a group without worrying about your surroundings.
Private rooms also come with a bathroom and a separate toilet room. This type of room is useful for those that want to stay in Wakayama for a long period.
A Café Lounge with a Relaxing Social Space
The entrance area of the guesthouse includes a café lounge.
The wood on the walls is the same material originally used in the former apartment building. This creates a warm, welcoming environment for guests along with the fresh greenery. You'll feel relieved from any travel fatigue just by sitting in this space.
You can also chat with other travelers in the café lounge. Guests also use the kitchen together to cook different dishes from their respective countries for each other.
The lounge turns into a bar at night. You can enjoy a drink until 22:00. If you think it’s a little early to be retiring to your room, how about soaking in the memories of your trip with a tasty adult beverage?
A Guesthouse Supporting the Local Community and International Guests
The guesthouse is operated by Mr. Miyahara, the manager, his partner Ms. Tachibana, and staff members Mr. Miyachi and Ms. Sugimoto. They welcome guests together with their part-time staff.
Mr. Miyahara’s desire to create a place where travelers can stay and brighten up Wakayama started Guesthouse RICO, which was built with the help of surrounding residents and students.
Mr. Miyahara: “Guesthouse RICO was renovated from an apartment that had very few tenants. It was built while receiving help from the students in the Hospitality and Tourism departments in this region together with the cooperation of the surrounding residents.
Most of the students who help out are interested in the tourism industry. They learn about guesthouse management while actually living here.”
The staff, of course, as well as the students that work part-time all speak English. Some of the staff have even been backpacking around the world.
A guitar brought in by a neighbor. Guests sometimes have fun while playing it.
The walls and shelves used in the café lounge are all restored items collected from neighboring residents. They bring in a feeling of warmth to the guesthouse after having been used for so many years. Each and every piece of furniture has a story behind it, so ask the staff if you’re curious to learn more about something.
The locals are also very friendly and you’ll sometimes find them talking with guests outside near the entrance of the guesthouse.
Residents in the neighborhood are also known to often approach and help travelers if they find them lost in the area with big backpacks and luggage.
Mr. Miyahara: “We hope those experiencing “travel fatigue” from busy sightseeing areas such as Osaka or Kyoto and to take their time visiting here. By stepping into the black tea shop or perhaps going to the café for delicious chiffon cake and walking around, you’re sure to experience something wonderful and comforting from this quiet neighborhood.”
Guests that have explored here are surprised by the quiet neighborhood, sometimes asking, “Did the people here go somewhere?”
Recommended Places for a Relaxing Walk
We’ll introduce places where you can relax with gorgeous scenery to fully enjoy Wakayama. You’ll be able to take your time as these areas are not well-known to many travelers.
Wakanoura is designated as a Japan Heritage spot, which recognizes places for their historical appeal. It is an area that appears by name in the "Man’yoshu," Japan’s earliest known collection of poetry. The landscape is reflected on the water’s surface when there is no wind, stretching a magical world onto its waters.
Bicycles can be borrowed from the front of JR Wakayama Station. It is 40 minutes by bicycle from the station to Wakanoura.
Saikazaki is a place with picturesque coastal scenery that has been renowned since long ago. You can also see people working at the fishing harbor in the mornings from the cape.
There is also a lighthouse on Saikazaki that offers an extensive view of the entire town. From the lighthouse, you’ll be able to see residences in rows on the slopes of the mountain as well as islands on the sea in the background.
It takes around 35 minutes riding the bus from JR Wakayama Station. It will pass through the mountains to get to the cape. Several places of interest, like an izakaya (Japanese pub) decorated with paper lanterns, will also appear along the way.
Enjoy Sightseeing from the Guesthouse
A famous Wakayama sightseeing spot: Seigantoji Temple's Three-Storied Pagoda and Nachi Falls
Mr. Miyahara: “There are also guests that go on day trips to Mt. Koya and Kumano Kodo from our guesthouse. Being on the move with a backpack is tiring. Please leave your large and heavy luggage with us. By doing so, you’ll be able to visit several sightseeing spots more easily.
We hope you also enjoy sightseeing at your own pace by coming to Wakayama, a place you can spend your time quietly.”
At the front of the guesthouse, you’ll find a sento (public bathhouse) that allows tattoos. After enjoying your travels for the day, we recommend getting rid of the day’s fatigue with the locals.
Guesthouse RICO gives guests plenty of opportunities to not only interact with fellow travelers but also with Wakayama residents. Make new discoveries and make your own travel stories by having fun meeting different people. We hope you enjoy your interactions with the people when you visit.
In cooperation with Guesthouse RICO