The Port of Wakayama is located on Japan's Kii Peninsula at the mouth of the Kino River that flows into the Inland Sea on the country's Pacific Ocean coast. On Honshu, the country's main island, the Port of Wakayama is about 31 nautical miles south-southwest of the Port of Kobe and about 33 nautical miles southwest of the Port of Osaka. The Port of Wakayama is the largest city and the capital of Wakayama Prefecture. In 2005, over 375 thousand people called the Port of Wakayama home.
Occupying just four percent of Wakayama prefecture's land area, the Port of Wakayama holds 40 percent of the prefecture's population. In the past, the main industries in the Port of Wakayama were furniture manufacturing and production of cotton textiles. Today, the major contributors to the local economy are steel and petrochemical plants. The city is also famous in Japan for its umeboshi (picked ume fruits related to plums but more like apricots) and mikan (a seedless, easy-to-peel citrus fruit).
The modern Port of Wakayama began to grow when a castle was built on Mt. Torafusu at the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The Port of Wakayama became a busy castle town and the economic and political center of the Kishu Domain under the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was also the base for the Kii branch of Japan's ruling Tokugawa family. The Japanese Shoguns who ruled from 1716 to 1867 were members of the Kii branch.
Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Port of Wakayama and surrounding area boasted high culture and educated people who often became leaders in Japan's modern era. Although the Port of Wakayama retains its local ambiance and sense of community, the city continues to thrive.
The 16th Century Wakayama Castle was destroyed by fire during World War II, but it was quickly rebuilt. Its grounds were converted into a public park that Port of Wakayama residents and visitors enjoy.
People continue to move to the Port of Wakayama in search of jobs and a better life. Unfortunately, the local economy has suffered in the 21st Century as one of its major steel plants moved to China. Many of the Port of Wakayama's steel mills have been down-sized or restructured, and some of the industry shut down in 2004.