Where To Stay In Tanabe, Japan (My 4 Picks!)

Tristan Balme The best hotel in tanabe japan my choice featured

I spent a couple of nights in Tanabe while hiking the Kumano Kodo trail. The city’s quaint, but there are decent lodgings to stay in. 

One of the highlights was soaking in the hot tubs found mainly at the Ryokans. Absolutely relaxing. Some are reasonably priced too. 

Here’s my pick of 4 best places to stay in Tanabe. 

1️⃣ Best Hostel In Tanabe: Django Hostel & Lounge 
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2️⃣ Best Budget Hotel In Tanabe: Hotel Hanaya
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3️⃣ Best Mid-range Hotel: Hotel Harvest Nankitanabe
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4️⃣ Best Luxury Hotel: Shiraraso Grand Hotel
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TLDR; My Favorite Hotel In Tanabe

The Shiraraso Hotel is a traditional hotel located in front of Shirahama Beach. It has spacious rooms with ocean views and private bathrooms. It’s close to attractions like Senjojiki Rock Plateau and Engetsu Island. 

The hotel provides multi-course Japanese haute cuisine, and amenities include:

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Private parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot spring bath

How Much Should You Pay For Accommodation

Here’s a rough breakdown of what you can expect to pay per person per night for each accommodation. 

  • Hostel: 1000 to 2000 Yen ($10-$20) 
  • Budget hotel: 5000 to 8000 Yen ($40-$60) 
  • Mid-range hotel: 11 000 to 17 000 Yen ($80-$120) 
  • Luxury hotel: 28 000 to 42000 Yen ($200-$300) 
  • Ryokan: 15,000 to 25,000 Yen ($100-$200) 

The Best Area To Stay In Tanabe

Kii-Tanabe Station Area

This is the central area of Tanabe, where the main train station and bus terminal are located. It’s convenient for transportation, shopping, and dining, but it’s not very scenic or quiet. It’s a good option if you want to stay close to the station and have easy access to other parts of Tanabe or Wakayama. 

Kozan-ji Temple Area

For a peaceful stay surrounded by nature, you can book accommodation in this area. It’s 15 minutes away from the station and close to the Nakahechi route. You can easily start or end your hike here. 

Shirahama Area

Shirahama is a popular beach resort area. If you’re visiting the city for leisure, then this might be a good option. But it’s not very close to the Kumano Kodo or the city center. 

Kawayu Onsen Area

One of the hot spring villages, Kawayu is 90 minutes away from the Kii-Tanabe Station. I believe it’s a fantastic spot to experience the traditional onsen culture and visit the sacred sites of the hiking trail. 

Hostel vs. Hotel vs. Ryokan 

Hostel

Hostels are budget-friendly options with dormitory rooms. If I’m spending a single night and looking to save money, I tend to opt for these. 

They’re also an excellent way to meet other travelers, that’s if you don’t mind sharing space and amenities. 

Hotel

This standard option boasts private rooms and en-suite facilities. It’s a good option if you want to have more comfort, privacy, and convenience. They have an array of facilities like restaurants, bars, pools, and gyms.

Ryokan

These are traditional inns with Japanese-style rooms and facilities. They’re fantastic for experiencing authentic Japanese culture, hospitality, and cuisine. 

Special features include onsens, tatami mats, futon beds, or yukata robes. 

Best Hostel In Tanabe (For Meeting Other Travelers): Django Hostel & Lounge 

Django

Django is a modern and stylish hostel with mixed and female-only dormitory rooms and private rooms with shared bathrooms. The rooms are impeccably clean and decently sized, with comfortable beds and an inviting lounge area. It’s a minute’s walk from the Kii-Tanabe Station and the bus terminal. 

Amenities

  • Parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Bar

Best Budget Hotel In Tanabe (Cheap But Good): Hotel Hanaya

Hanaya

This is a simple hotel with small but functional rooms. And a small but clean bathroom. It’s located 5 minutes from the Kii-Tanabe Station and the bus terminal. You’ll also have access to shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Amenities

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot tub

Best Mid-range Hotel In Tanabe: Hotel Harvest Nankitanabe 

Nankitanabe

Harvest Nankitanabe is a 4-star hotel with family and suite rooms with private bathrooms and balconies. It’s near the Kii-Tanabe Station and Shirahama Beach. It’s also close to some attractions, like the Adventure World Zoo and the Sandanbeki Cave.

Amenities

  • Swimming pool
  • Free Parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Restaurant
  • Fitness centre
  • Family rooms
  • Breakfast

Best Luxury Hotel In Tanabe: Shiraraso Grand Hotel

Shiraraso

Although traditional, Shiraraso Hotel makes you feel like royalty. It has spacious rooms, and ocean views, and is located right in front of Shirahama Beach. 

The dinner and breakfast were both multi-course Japanese haute cuisine, which looked superb. And the taste matched the presentation. 

Amenities

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Private parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Family rooms
  • Beachfront
  • Hot spring bath
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • Tea/coffee maker
  • Breakfast

What Is Accommodation Like In Tanabe?

Activities

The city has various attractions. You can hike the renowned Kumano Kodo, head over to Shirahama Beach, or soak in hot springs. When planning your visit, consider staying close to your points of interest. For instance, if you plan to hike, stay near the trailhead. If you prefer a relaxing hot springs experience, consider staying in a ryokan with an onsen. 

Food

The accommodations I stayed in have on-site restaurants to provide guests with a taste of local specialties and kaiseki-style meals. When planning your trip, I recommend staying in a ryokan that offers dinner and breakfast. This way, you’ll get the full traditional cuisine experience. If you prefer more options and flexibility, stay in a hotel with a restaurant or buffet or stay near shops and eateries to explore. 

Proximity to town

Most lodgings are closer to transportation hubs, like Kii-Tanabe Station or bus terminals. This makes it easier to travel and explore the area. 

Price

Expect to pay anything from 2,000 to 20,000 Yen (sometimes a bit more) per person per night. If you’re looking to save and don’t have a problem sharing amenities, consider a hostel. But if it’s comfort and privacy you’re after, opt for a hotel with privacy features. Because you’ll be visiting Japan, you might want to immerse yourself in the country’s culture. So might consider budgeting for a ryokan. 

Getting To Kii Tanabe

By train

You can take the JR West Kuroshio Limited Express train from Osaka, Kyoto, or Nagoya to Kii Tanabe. The fare starts from 5,000 yen (about $45), and you can also use the Japan Rail Pass or the Kansai Wide Area Pass to save money.

By bus

Alternatively, take the Meiko Bus from Osaka or Wakayama to Kii Tanabe. You can expect to pay around 1,500 yen (about $13).

By plane

There’s a domestic flight servicing to the major cities. A ticket ranges from 10,000 yen (about $90) to about 15,000 yen (about $135) from Nagoya. 

What You Need To Know If You’re Doing The Kumano Kodo

Route options

Kumano Kudo comprises 5 main routes: Nakahechi, Ohechi, Iseji, Michi, and Kohechi, all with varying difficulty, lengths, and features. 

The most popular and well-reserved of them all is Nakahechi. It connects Tanabe with the 3 grand shrines, is about 30 km long, and can be done in 2 days. 

Ohechi follows the Pacific Ocean from Tanabe to Nachi Taisha. 

Iseji links Kumano with the Ise Shrine and boasts diverse scenic sections. 

Kohechi is mountainous and connects Kumano with Koyasan. It’s the most challenging and requires careful preparation.

You can also combine different routes to create a longer and more diverse pilgrimage. 

Luggage

Pack light and carry only the essentials for your trek. You can carry a backpack and make use of a luggage forwarding service. 

This conveniently transports your luggage from one accommodation to another or a designated center, allowing you to enjoy the walk without the heavy load. If you’re curious about the luggage forwarding service, check out Kumano Travel’s luggage shuttle page. 

Prepare your gear

Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing and footwear. Ideally, items you can adjust during the hike. Here are some essentials to bring along: 

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Rain gear
  • First aid kit
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Water
  • Snacks

Respect the rules of the route

As a sign of respect for the local culture, I recommend wearing modest clothing and avoiding showing too much skin. It’s also customary to remove your shoes when entering a shrine or temple and bow and clap your hands when praying at a shrine. If unsure, simply follow the instructions of the guides. 

Kumano Kodo Travel Planning Cheatsheet

(This list contains affiliate links which may earn me a small comission if you decide to puchase something - thank you!)

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Japan?

100% YES! — Japan has “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover hiking as it's a high risk activity! (that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for the crazy activities you're doing – and starts at just $7 a day!

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Kumano Kodo accommodation?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

💸How do you pay for things in Japan?

Japan may have flying robots.. but they also still use cash! So you'll want to get some folding tender out from an ATM when you land. EFTPOS / Debit / Credit Card and Paywave (contactless payments) is common at bigger businesses but small bars, and street vendors want cash.

I personally use a Wise debit card for all my international money needs as they only convert the funds when you make payment, plus they offer a much better spread (margin on the true exhange rate) than the banks do. They work in all Japanese ATMs I tried. 

🚙 Do you need to rent a car in Japan?

I wouldn't reccommend it — Transport in Japan is expensive whatever mode you chose, but fortunalty the publc transport system is out of this world in terms of both freqency and coverage. If you are heading to a lot of off the beaten track places, then you may want a rental. I use Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates on rentals cars and remember you can save money if you avoid picking up at the airport.

🚆 What about the JR Rail Pass?

We didn't - but it depends on the length and itenirary of your trip. The JR Pass is expensive (and just went up in price again!) and if you're walking the Kumano Kodo you wont need it for probably 6 days straight anyway. 

Do the math, but in most cases buying the train fares you need, when you need it will work out more afforably overall - and give you more flexibility (as the JR Pass doesn't cover all lines)

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Japan and on the trail?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is local SIM cards are cheaper but generally require a fixed term contract. Tourist 'short stay' SIMs are a bit more expensive but will give you plenty of data while your visiting and are best for solo travelllers or purchase a international SIM before you leave (I reccommend Airalo for Japan) . If you're travelling as 2 or more people, renting a pocket WIFI unit from the airport is the most economical option.

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Japan?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water on the Kumano Kodo?

Yes — Japan is very clean. In all townships you'll pass through and stay along the Kumano Kodo the tap water is drinkable. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I drank the water and was fine.. but i'd generally recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

🎫 Do I need a visa for Japan?

Likely Not — Japan now recognises 70 countries as 'visa exempt' for short term stay. So if you're a US, UK, NZ, AU and EU passport holder you don’t need a Japansese visas. However, some other countries do (check here!). And if you plan to stay for more than 90 days (an average tourist visa length), you will need to look into the Japanese working holiday visa scheme, or the new Digital Nomad visa scheme. 

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