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Kochi (Shikoku)

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Kōchi (高知) [1], known in ancient times as Tosa (土佐), is the eponymous capital of Kochi prefecture on the Japanese island of Shikoku.


Get in

By plane

Pint-sized Kōchi Ryōma Airport (IATA: KCZ) [2] has flights to Osaka-Itami, Osaka-Kansai, Tokyo-Haneda, Nagoya-Komaki and Naha (Okinawa). Buses to/from Kochi station (35-45 min, ¥700) leave roughly twice an hour.

By train

The JR Dosan Line (土讃線) runs down from Okayama on Honshu via Takamatsu and the Oboke gorge, passing through Kochi on its way to the terminus Kubokawa.

The fastest way to get to Kochi from Okayama is to take the Nanpu Limited Express train, which departs every hour. It costs ¥5990 (no cost with the Japan Rail Pass) and takes 2 1/2 hours.

Get around

By Car

You can easily visit Kochi by car.

  • Enterprises Car Rental

By Bus

By Tram

Kochi has trams running south from Kochi Station and east-west along Route 32. Within the downtown area, it costs ¥190 per trip.

By Bicycle

The streets are wide and traffic fairly light compared to most Japanese cities. Watch out for cyclists riding the wrong way into traffic.

See

  • Kochi Castle (高知城), 2-1-1 Marunouchi (Tram to Kochi-jo Mae), +81 0888-24-5701, [3]. 9AM-5PM. Kochi Castle is one of the few original white castles in Japan. Access to the castle grounds is free, and the entrance fee to enter the castle is well worthwhile. The views from the castle are spectacular. ¥400.
  • Kochi Prefectural Museum of Art (高知県立美術館), 353-2 Takasu (Tram to Kenritsu Bijutsukandori), +81 0888-66-8000, [4]. 9AM-5PM. Art by Japanese and foreign artists, including Marc Chagall. Noh plays are held in the museum hall. &yen:350 adults, ¥250 children.
  • Tosa Shrine. The shrine's origins are unknown but it was mentioned in both the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, the first written records of Japanese history. Free.
  • Sakamoto Ryoma's Hometown Museum, 088-820-1115, [5]. 8AM-7PM (museum shop closes at 6:30). The 2-floor museum features information and artifacts from Sakamoto Ryoma, his family, and Kochi city during the days when he lived here. ¥300.
  • Harimayabashi Bridge (はりまや橋). A bridge made famous by a story that took place here; a young monk had a secret affair with a woman but one day he was seen by the bridge buying a hairpin which was a telltale sign that he had a lover. Because monks were not allowed to be romantically involved with anyone, he and the woman fled together before he could be punished. The bridge is very small so it's probably only worth visiting if the story interests you. Free.
  • Chikyu 33 Banchi, [6]. This monument was constructed at 133*33'33"East Longituge, 33*33'33" North Latitude, marking the unique spot where 33 appears consecutively in all six markers. There are only 9 other places in the world where such a thing occurs and this is the only one that can be easily reached by public transport. Free.

The My-Yu bus (MY遊バス) service runs from the north side of JR Kochi Station. Day passes are ¥900. The bus stops at 3 locations on Mt. Godaisan and continues on to Katsurahama (both below).

  • Mount Godaisan, 4378 Godaisan. Godaisan Park is located near Chikurinji (竹林寺) [7] (8:30AM-5PM), the 31st temple along the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The park gives beautiful views of the city, and can be paired with a visit to the Makino Botanical Garden (below).
  • Kochi People's and Liberty Museum (自由民権記念館), [8]. A museum with information about liberty and freedoms in the Tosa Kingdom and the world. ¥320.
  • Hamaguchi Osachi House (浜口雄幸生家記念館), 088-823-9457. The house of Japan's 27th Prime Minister, Hamaguchi Osachi, who served from 1929 to 1931.
  • Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden (高知県立牧野植物園), +81 0888-82-2601, [9]. 9AM-5PM. Celebrating the life and career of Dr. Makino Tomitarou, this botanical garden covers six acres with more than 1,500 plants. ¥500 adults, students free.
  • Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, 830 Urado-Shiroyama, [10]. Located in Katsurahama, this museum has exhibits related to Sakamoto Ryoma. Many written documents, including a letter written by him just two days prior to his assassination. There are also special exhibitions. ¥500.

Do

  • Yosakoi Matsuri (よさこい祭り), 088-823-9457. Held annually from Aug. 9-12. Along with the Awa Odori in Tokushima, the Yosakoi Matsuri is Shikoku's other famous festival and was actually formed out of the Awa Odori as a more modern version in 1954. The Yosakoi festival is highly energetic and some of the dance teams have naruko (click-clacks) which is part of the Yosakoi tradition.
  • Sunday Market (Nichi O Ichi). Every sunday rain or shine, Kochi's skilled farmers and fisherman flock to the capital to present their goods. At the market you will find friendly vendors offering everything from antiques to zucchini.

Katsurahama

Katsurahama (桂浜) is Kochi's famous coastal beach. For many, the view alone is reason enough to visit but the area has more to offer. The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (see "See" section above) is here as well as a few other interesting things.

  • Tosa Dog-Fighting Center (土佐闘犬センター), [11]. Tosa dogs are large dogs that are bred in Kochi for the purpose of dog-fighting and ownership of the dogs is actually banned in many countries. The Dog-Fighting Center is where you can come to see the dog fights. ¥1500.
  • Katsurahama Aquarium (桂浜水族館), 088-841-2437, [12]. A small aquarium with a variety of fish, water birds, seals, and dolphins. They also host dolphin and seal shows, along with other animals. ¥1100.

Buy

  • Katsuo Bushi - Bonito flakes. This is a staple of the Japanese diet and is best in Kochi. It is used as a topping for many dishes and will surely be appreciated by a Japanese friend.

Eat

  • Katsuo no tataki - This is Kochi's specialty dish and does not taste as good anywhere else! Katsuo is a type of tuna fish which in English is called Bonito. Tataki is the style in which it is prepared. The tataki style means that the fish is held over a fire and cooked only on the outside layer (about 3mm to 1cm deep), leaving the inside of the fish red and raw. After the firing it is cut into thick juicy slices that look like oversized sashimi, and served with sliced garlic and onions, shiso (a Japanese leaf with a distinct and delicious taste), some other garnish, a special sauce that may vary, and of course some fresh wasabi. Once it is at your table clutch a slice with your chop sticks along with a generous portion of the garlic, onions, wasabi etc. Take it all in in one bite. Katsuo is best during the Summer and early Fall when the fish arrive off the coast of Kochi after fattening up in the tropics during the winter. Katsuo no tataki can be found in many, many restaurants throughout Kochi Prefecture, but for the cream of the crop go to Kuroson in Kochi City.
  • Kuroson is a small sushi restaurant near Ohashi Dori, nestled in a narrow alley just behind the Mos Burger on the East West Densha Dori. On most nights you will need a reservation booked well in advance, but if you are on your own or as a couple, you might get lucky and find a spot on a week day. Ask for Shiyo Tataki, a specialty of Kuroson. It a variation of katsuo no tataki prepared in salt, giving it an even more unforgettable taste. For the bolder among you, ask for chichiko (Katsuo hearts) as an appetizer.

Drink

Denizens of Kochi drink a lot; see the prefecture article for the full scoop.


Gokkun-Umajimura is a famous non-alcoholic drink. It is made of yuzu which is a kind of citrus fruit and is well-known product in Umajimura, Kochi. It tastes sweet-and-sour so that is easy to drink for everyone, from little children to old people. It is sold in every place in Kochi for example Super markets, stations and airport. It's fantastic when mixed with shochu on the rocks.

  • Hirome Market. Halfway down the arcade is Hirome Market, an indoor collection of food stalls selling everything from Indian curry to fresh fish to big pitchers of beer. Patrons sit on long communal wooden tables, so it's a great place to converse with the locals.


Sleep

  • Kochi Youth Hostel, 4-5 Fukui-higashi-machi, 088-823-0858 (fax: 088-823-0859), [13]. An excellent place to stay, run by a former sake brewer who will, for ¥500, provide a sake tasting workshop. It's a 5 minute walk from JR Engyoujiguchi Station. ¥2835, meals ¥1050.
  • Richmond Hotel Kochi, 9-4 Obiya-machi, +81 0888-20-1122, [14]. A modern Western-style hotel, with clean rooms. Internet access is available at the desk or in the rooms (wired LAN). It's a 15 minute walk from JR Kochi Station. ¥10,000.

Get out

  • Nankoku - home of the prefecture's airport and the famous long-tailed roosters
  • Kami - location of the famous Ryugado Cave
  • Aki - Musical town
  • Hidaka - Site of the historic Omura Shrine, Saruda Cave, and ruins of Kashiwai Castle
  • Sakawa - Home to one of Japan's oldest archaeological excavation sites, the Sakawa Basin
  • Shimanto - home to Japan's last undammed river, the Shimanto River
  • Miyoshi - Just north in Tokushima Prefecture, home to Oboke and Koboke and the Iya Valley




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