Travel to just about every region of the country and whether you intend it or not, you will come across old feudal castles dating back to the Edo Era or even further back in history. Most of these intricate structures are not all original, but if you are planning a trip to Kochi, the capital of the old Tosa region, rest assured that its castle is one of the 12 originals remaining in the country. In fact, in several ways, it is one of the most original ones and here we’re going to walk you through it.
To reach Kochi Castle you need to head the heart of the city. This historic beauty was built back in 1611 and sits today atop Otakasa Hill and in between the Enokuchi and Kagami rivers. If you want to enjoy unsurpassed city views as well as a walk back into history, then this should be at the top of your sightseeing list while in Kochi City.
To enter the castle there are a few paths but to do so with grandiosity, enter through the Otemon Gate, the first “important cultural property” on the grounds. You won’t be attacked during your visit, but the gate was built in such a way that enemies could be attacked from three different points at the gate.
One of our favorite areas of the castle park is the Kurotetsu Gate. To us, the gate’s rustic black wood is proof of the castle’s long history and is hard not to imagine the samurai of the Edo Era making their way through the gate as they came to negotiate with the Daimyo in charge. But just before crossing the gate make sure to pay attention to the geometric shapes along the wall; the triangles and circles were used to attack intruders.
Once inside the main tower and as you make your way through the suggested course, you’ll wander pass beautiful tatami rooms which are a clear example of the Shoin-zukuri style of architecture. At this point, you might run into one the volunteer guides at the castle; although their English ability is minimal to none, they are very friendly and eager to talk to visitors (foreigners included). If you can understand the guide, we recommend you tag along if only for a few minutes. They can pinpoint curious facts about the castle like the decorated door which was actually used as a secret door from which many surprise attacks were carried out.
Other curious details to keep an eye out for while exploring the main tower at Kochi Castle are stone throwing shoots on the floor which were one of the various methods to keep unwanted visitors from entering the castle. Another feature we love is the display presenting a miniature sample of what life in and around the castle used to like when Tosa was thriving.
Once at the top of the tower and with the city views in front of your eyes, get your camera ready to capture what we think is the best view of Kochi Castle. The Hallway Gate, which is also included in the long list of the castle’s “important cultural property” is the perfect way to end tour of this original masterpiece. As an added bonus and depending on when you visit Kochi City, head to the gardens behind the main tower and enjoy the plum and sakura trees.