Lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean
Cape Ashizuri (足摺岬 Ashizuri-misaki) is the southernmost point of the island of Shikoku, Japan.
The cape is a part of the Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park (足摺宇和海国立公園 Ashizuri-Uwakai -kokuritsukōen), and the cliffs here featuring a sparkling white lighthouse are a popular sightseeing point. The small town of Ashizuri lies just north of the cape, at the intersection of two highways. The cape is only a few kilometers away and easily reached on foot along a seaside walking path.
From the east, there are occasional direct buses from Kochi (4h40m; ¥4000) and the nearest train station Nakamura (1h30m). If heading north towards Sukumo, Uwajima and Matsuyama, you will have to take a bus to Tosa-Shimizu and transfer there. Hitchhiking is also a viable option.
With a good road bike, it is possible to bike from Nakamura Station to Cape Ashizuri in about three hours. Note that there are three roads out onto the tip of the Cape itself. The two coastal roads are relatively flat (and very scenic), but the central road (the aptly named "Skyline") involves a difficult 10 km climb before descending to the Cape.
All the attractions in the area are concentrated at the tip of the cape and can easily be covered on foot.
A poor fisherman shipwrecked and rescued by a passing American whaling ship in 1841, Manjiro became the first Japanese to visit America — this during Japan's period of enforced seclusion, when leaving (or, rather, coming back) was punishable by death. Adopting the name John Mung, he learned English and eventually came back not to face execution, but to become a government interpreter when Commodore Perry's Black Ships forced open Japan.
The cape itself has been turned into a pleasant park of sorts, with wooded paths winding from point to point. Entry is free.
- Tengu-no-Hana (天狗の鼻, lit. "Tengu's Nose", Tengu are long-nosed half-human half-bird gods) is the main observation point, from where you can contemplate the thousands and thousands of miles of ocean stretching out from here to California.
- The paths are marked with occasional signs for the rather underwhelming Seven Mysteries (七不思議), including supposedly bottomless wells (drop a coin and see!) and such.
- A statue of Nakahama "John" Manjirō stands in front of the park; see the box to the right for the story behind it, just waiting to be turned into a Hollywood film. A small museum dedicated to John Manjiro can be found in the village nearby, around 20 min by foot from the statue.
- Kongōfuku-ji Temple (金剛福寺), on the left side of the road right before the park, is one of the largest temples on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage and worth a visit. Reputedly founded by Kobo Daishi himself back in 822, most buildings are in fact rather new.
Buy, Eat & Drink
You can find the usual assemblage of souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes right outside the entrance to the park.
The town of Ashizuri has a number of hotels, ryokan and minshuku. Kongofukuji also offers lodging for pilgrims, but beds are limited and bona fide pilgrims have priority over scruffy backpackers.
- Ashizuri Youth Hostel (あしずりＹＨ), 1351-3 Ashizuri-misaki, Tosa-shimizu-shi, ☎ +81 0880-88-0324, . offers basic accommodation in tatami rooms starting at ¥3360; breakfast is ¥630, dinner ¥1050. Quite small (capacity 13 people) so book ahead. Buses run from Nakamura Station toward Ashizuri-misaki — disembark at Hokuo-jinja. edit
- Ashizuri Resort (あしずりリゾート), 997-30 Matsuo, Tosa-shimizu-shi, ☎ +81 0880-88-1185. is located on top of the Ashizuri Peninsula and has great views across the ocean. It's about 15 minutes by car to Ashizuri Cape. It is quite isolated so you really need your own transport to get there and it is best to do any shopping in Tosashimizu town before driving up. Accommodation is all self catering and the cottages and apartments are fairly well equipped. Prices depend on the number of people staying but are around ¥3000-4000. There's an outdoor swimming pool which is open in the summer season. "Resort" is bit of a misnomer, but for the price it's good value, especially if you're traveling in a family or group. edit