Owase Travel Guide

Follow this Owase city-travel guide to explore its culturally important attractions, natural wonders, hiking/biking routes, activities, local culture, transport, and more.

Introduction to Owase

Owase is situated in Mie prefecture in Kansai, Japan, and is known as the gateway to the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. It is a city surrounded by mountains and sea, which makes it an ideal location for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and swimming. Owase was once a whaling town, and today it has a rich cultural heritage that you can see in its many historical landmarks, museums, and festivals.

List of Places to Visit in Owase

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

The Owase Whale Museum

The Owase Whale Museum is a must-visit place in the city as it houses marine creatures and various whale-related artifacts. The museum traces the history of Owase as a whaling town through its collections of the tools used for whale hunting and the models of the whale species that were hunted in the area. There is also a life-size model of a whale on display and an interactive exhibit on marine conservation.

Ryugu-ji Temple

This Buddhist temple is well-known for housing Konpira-san, the god of the sea, and is said to be the protector of sailors, fishermen, and divers. The temple is located atop a hill, and offers a panoramic view of the city and the ocean. The temple has a distinctly Japanese architecture, and the surrounding nature adds to its serene ambiance.

Iwamoto-ji Temple

Iwamoto-ji Temple is a Shinto temple that is believed to be over 1,000 years old. The temple is famous for its Tamate-bako, a wooden box believed to have been gifted by the god of the sea. The box is said to be blessed and is therefore a popular wedding gift.

The Kiho-cho Salt Museum

The Kiho-cho Salt Museum is a unique museum that showcases the salt-making process that was popular in Owase before industrial salt was introduced. The museum has an interactive exhibit that lets visitors churn salt from sea water and sample it.

Natural Attractions of Owase: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Kumano-Kodo Pilgrimage Trail

The Kumano-Kodo pilgrimage trail is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the famous pilgrimage routes in Japan. The trail is a network of ancient paths that lead to the three grand shrines of Kumano - Kumano Hayatama Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha, and Kumano Hongu Taisha. The trail passes through dense forests, mountains, and waterfalls, and is perfect for hikers and nature lovers.

Otori-toge Pass

The Otori-toge pass is a mountain pass that connects the east and west of Owase City. The road winds through the mountains, and its highest point offers breathtaking views of the city and the sea.

Kashikojima Island

Kashikojima Island is located in Owase Bay and is famous for its scenic views, hot springs, and seafood. The island is connected to the mainland by the 1.7 km-long Kintetsu Pearl Line, which is a suspension bridge that offers a stunning view of the island and the sea.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Owase

Owasechō Hiking Trail

The Owasechō Hiking Trail is a 7km-long trail that offers a scenic view of the Owase Bay and the surrounding mountains. The trail takes around two hours to complete and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. There are several viewpoints along the trail that offer stunning views of the city and the sea.

Tsukigase Cycling Road

The Tsukigase Cycling Road is a 12km-long bike path that runs along the Tsukigase River. The path passes through rice fields, forests, and small villages, and offers a scenic view of the mountains and the river.

Best Things to Do in Owase: Activities and Tours

Whale Watching

Whale watching is one of the popular activities in Owase, and there are several tours that take you to the sea to observe whales and other aquatic creatures. The best time to go whale watching is from July to October when Humpback whales migrate to the seas near Owase.

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is another popular activity in Owase, and there are several tour operators that offer guided sea kayaking tours along the coast of the city. The tours take you to hidden coves and small islands, and offer a unique view of the city and the sea.

Sake Tasting

Mie prefecture is well-known for its Sake, and Owase has several Sake breweries that offer tours and tastings. The tours take you through the brewing process and let you sample different kinds of Sake.

Week-Long Itinerary for Owase

Day 1: Visit the Owase Whale Museum and Iwamoto-ji Temple

Day 2: Hike the Owasechō Hiking Trail

Day 3: Take a guided Sea Kayaking Tour

Day 4: Explore the Kumano-Kodo Pilgrimage Trail

Day 5: Visit Ryugu-ji Temple and The Kiho-cho Salt Museum

Day 6: Take a bike ride on the Tsukigase Cycling Road

Day 7: Relax in the hot springs on Kashikojima Island

Food and Drink Scene of Owase

Must-Try Dishes

Whale Meat

As a whaling town, Owase has several restaurants that serve whale meat. Whale meat is often cooked in a hotpot or grilled, and is said to have a unique texture and taste that differentiates it from other meats.

Kaki Fry

Kaki Fry is deep-fried oysters that are popular in Owase. The oysters are breaded and then deep-fried, and are often served with a dipping sauce.

Tekone Sushi

Tekone Sushi is a local specialty that is made with raw bonito that is marinated in soy sauce and vinegar. The sushi is often served on a bed of rice and is a must-try dish when in Owase.

Local Beverages

Mie prefecture Sake

Mie prefecture is famous for its Sake, and there are several Sake breweries in Owase that offer tastings and tours.


Umeshu is a Japanese liquor made from plums, and is a popular drink in Owase. The drink has a sweet and sour taste, and is often served on ice or mixed with soda.

Where to Stay in Owase: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Hotel Nakanoshima

Hotel Nakanoshima is located on the banks of the Owase River, and offers stunning views of the mountains and the city. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the hotel has an onsen (hot spring) on the 8th floor.

Ryokan Kuramoto

Ryokan Kuramoto is a traditional Japanese inn that offers a unique experience of Japanese culture. The rooms are designed in a traditional Japanese style and have futons for sleeping. The ryokan has a hot spring bath, and serves traditional Japanese meals.

Katsuura Gyoen

Katsuura Gyoen is a modern hotel that offers spacious rooms with a view of the ocean. The hotel has an indoor pool, a hot spring bath, and an outdoor terrace.

What to Buy in Owase: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home


Owase City is known for its salt production, and you can find different kinds of salt in various shops throughout the city. You can buy salt that is flavored with different herbs and spices.

Kumano-Kodo Souvenirs

You can find various souvenirs related to the Kumano-Kodo pilgrimage trail in Owase. These include keychains, t-shirts, and small trinkets.


Owase has a whiskey distillery, and you can buy whiskey that is made locally. The whiskey has a distinct flavor that is influenced by the local climate and water.

Local Culture and Customs of Owase

Tanabata Festival

The Tanabata Festival is held in Owase in August every year, and celebrates the meeting of the two stars, Vega and Altair. The festival is a colorful event where people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and hang them on bamboo trees.

Traditional Festivals

Owase has several other traditional festivals throughout the year, and these include the Thank You Festival in October and the Kannabiranoya Festival in November.

Best Time to Visit Owase

The best time to visit Owase is during the summer months, from June to August. The weather is warm and sunny, and it is the best time to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming. However, if you are interested in whale watching, the best time to visit is from July to October.

Do’s and Don’ts of Owase


  • Respect the local customs and traditions.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine and try new things.
  • Wear comfortable shoes when hiking or biking.


  • Swim in the ocean during the winter months.
  • Remove your shoes when entering a temple or someone’s home.
  • Disrespect the local culture and traditions.

Safety and Health

Safety in Owase

Owase is a safe city, and the crime rate is relatively low. However, it is always advisable to take precautions such as keeping your belongings safe and not walking alone in the dark.

Health in Owase

Owase is a healthy city, and the air quality is good. However, it is advisable to carry a face mask during the pollen season, which is from March to May.

Getting to Owase: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Owase

The nearest airport to Owase is Chubu Centrair International Airport, which is located 150 km away. From the airport, you can take a train to Nagoya Station and then transfer to a train to Owase.

Bus Stations Near Owase

There are several bus stations that connect Owase with other cities. The closest bus station is Owase Bus Terminal, which is located in the city center.

Other Options

You can also take a train to Owase, and the nearest train station is Owase Station. The station is connected to major cities such as Nagoya and Osaka.

How to Get Around in Owase

The best way to get around Owase is by rental car, bicycle or on foot. The city is small, and the roads are well-maintained, making it easy to navigate. There are also several rental bicycle shops in the city center.

Where to Go Next from Owase: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Ise Grand Shrine

Ise Grand Shrine is one of Japan’s most sacred shrines and is located 100 km away from Owase. The shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu, the sun goddess, and is a must-visit place when in Japan.


Toba is a small fishing town located 60 km away from Owase. The town is well-known for its pearls and is a popular day trip destination from Owase.


Matsuzaka is a city located 70 km away from Owase, and is famous for its Matsusaka Beef. The beef is known for its tenderness and unique taste.


Owase is a hidden gem in Japan that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and those interested in Japanese culture. The city offers a unique experience that is different from that of other Japanese cities, and its natural beauty and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination in Japan.