Crawling along the southern coast of Shikoku sits Kochi, a laid-back beach populated prefecture dotted with scenic mountain ranges and a rich connection to its agricultural roots. With so much to explore, what makes an escape to Kochi so special is its relatively untouched atmosphere.
While the untamed coastline and lush forests encompass a large proportion of the area, the man-made elements of Kochi harmonize perfectly with its natural surroundings. Visit the terraced rice fields of Yusuhara, known as the ‘town above the clouds’ to see this in action. Here in Yusuhara, the magnificent multi-layered fields were crafted by farmers and laborers who carried stones from the neighboring river to build the farmland, one stone at a time.
Bordered by Ehime to the northwest and Tokushima to the northeast, this unique pocket of Shikoku has its own cultural flavor and plenty of places to explore. Katsurahama Beach, located around 30 minutes south from central Kochi City is one such place. Though because of its powerful currents swimming is prohibited, the area has plenty more to offer all year round. Katsurahama has been a popular moon viewing location since the beginning of time, and still today visitors swarm to the area on a clear night to soak up the views back-dropped by the crashing coast.
The area also boasts Chikurin-ji Temple, one of the stop offs on Shikoku’s popular 88 temple Pilgrimage. As you explore the sacred site, be sure to keep an eye out for dedicated pilgrims dressed in white as they pay their respects en-route to their next location. Not lacking in historical artifacts, Kochi also is home to Kochi Castle, one of Japan’s last remaining 12 original castles. Constructed between 1601 and 1611 and mainly reconstructed in 1748 following a fire, this castle was the seat of the Yamauchi lords who ruled the area then known as Tosa, during the Edo Period.
Weaving through Kochi, around Mt. Irazu and flowing into the Pacific Ocean is the 196 km long Shimanto River, the longest in the Shikoku and also regarded as Japan’s last remaining limpid (clear water) stream. Pristine and unaffected by modern life, visiting this corner of the country will transport you into a time before humans even existed. Keep an eye out during fall for locals who still to this day employ ancient techniques like ‘to-ami’ (cast net fishing) and ‘hiburi-ryo’ (flaming torch illuminated night time fishing) to score their dinner.
From Honshu the best way to get to Kochi is via airplane. Major carriers JAL and ANA offer a number of flights between Haneda Airport and Kochi Ryoma Airport every day. From the airport you can access JR Kochi Station by bus. If you’d rather travel on land, you can catch the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (via Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto) to Okayama Station then make a switch to JR Nanpu limited express train for Kochi.
Kochi Prefecture Overview
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR