Tore Tore Fish Market (南紀白浜魚市場) is Shirahama answer to Tsukiji Fish Market. The incredibly clean fish market has got plenty to offer (how do the Japanese keep their wet market so clean anyway?). The freshest seafood is on display and it’s always amazing to see how the experts dissect big tunas in double quick time. The prices here pale in comparison to Tsukiji, which is a boon for us. Paying less for more sashimi, yeah to Tore Tore Fish Market!
We got our sashimi bento from this friendly stall owner, didn’t expect him to pose for the shot though lol. And the super duper fresh sashimi taste heavenly!
We also grab some irresistible-looking sushi bento too. Nice!
Besides seafood and sushi, there are two local delights definitely worth trying. One is the freshly made Umeshu (梅酒) or Japanese Plum Wines. The other is the Fukubishi snack shop (銘菓福菱), which is very popular among the locals. There are free samples to try and we got the green tea flavour cake.
Next on the agenda is one of Shirahama famous landmarks – Engetsu Island (円月島) or Full Moon Island. The name is derived from the eroded cave shaped like a full moon at the centre of the island. I have read that it’s a sight to behold to see the sunset through the cave but we didn’t stay to witness that.
We took the bus from Tore Tore Fish Market and alight at Rinkai (臨海) bus stop. It’s then a short walk to the coast where Engetsu Island can be seen.
For those who want a closer look at the island can hop on to the small ‘Glass Bottom Boat’ costing around 1,500 JPY (S$18).
Hot springs foot bath
We stroll along the road hugging Shirahama beautiful coastline towards the city area. And we came across this nice looking pavilion with hot springs foot bath or Ashiyu (足湯).
I soak my tired legs into the onsen goodness but the water is so damn hot that I give up. What a pity, it would be nice to enjoy the great sea view while my legs undergo hydrotherapy. Thought it’s just me but as we are leaving, three local students in their uniform gave up too after dipping their feet in.
Then we make our way to the most famous onsen in Shirahama – Sakinoyu (崎の湯露天風呂). The 1,300 years old outdoor onsen facing the magnificent Pacific ocean is among the oldest in Japan, situated on the shores near to Hotel Seamore. Entrance fee is an affordable 400 JPY (S$5).
This Shirahama onsen is the reason why ancient emperors will travel from Nara perhaps in their horses or wagons, just to bath here! OMG. The train ride took 2.5 hours from Kansai Airport to here, how much time would they spend coming all the way from Nara?
Perhaps the lure of enjoying the breath-taking view of Pacific Ocean while soaking in sulphur richness is too much to resist.
There is a small shop near to Sakinoyu which sells tasty Onsen Tamago (温泉玉子). You will spot a concrete well with turtle head at the shop front. The well is filled with hot springs and the eggs are soaked and cooked in it. The egg has a very nice and soft texture which is really good. For half-boiled egg lover, this is a must try!
Submarine Observation Tower
Submarine Observation Tower (白浜海中展望塔) was the last place we went before heading back to Hotel Sanrakuso. The observation tower with a deck shaped like a flying saucer is very near to Sakinoyu.
The white bridge leading to the saucer deck provides a very nice contrast to the Pacific Ocean.
We took the spiral stairs down to the small submerged observation room with windows for people to observe the marine life at sea floor. However, it is challenging to find any sea creatures through the murky waters. And there is nothing else to do besides peeping, which makes me feel that the admission fee of 800 JPY (S$10) is not money well spent.