Kochi – 高知 (1/2)
The Kuroshio ocean current influence makes Kōchi a war city, compared to other towns located at the same latitude.
In fact, Summer comes earlier in Kōchi than anywhere else. The city, with palm trees all around, feels exotic.
Mentioning Kōchi, we cannot forget that is the homeland of Sakamoto Ryōma, who held an important role during Meiji Restoration. At that time Kōchi Prefecture was known as Tōsa feud, a name that you can still see in some place or stations names.
Getting to Kōchi by plane is handy, especially if you come from Tokyo, and further places.
Landing at Kōchi Ryōma Airport is the best way to reach the city. The flights take about 90 minutes from Tōkyō Haneda and 45 minutes from Ōsaka’s Kansai and Itami airports. The tickets can be purchased for 30.000 or 20.000 yen, but if you book in advance you can also have them for more or less than 10.000 yen.
You can take a Tōsaden Bus from the airport to Kōchi station, the ride takes about 40 minutes.
Here are the timetables (on the top-right you can click on the “ENGLISH” button to change the language): http://tinyurl.com/lpnkqqf
Let’s first go to Okayama Station by Shinkansen bullet train!. It takes 3 hours and 20 minutes with the fastest service, the Nozomi*. At Okayama it is possible to get on the “Nanpu” Limited Express and reach Kōchi Station in 2 and a half hours.
You can get to Kōchi also by night-train at the same price: the Sunrise Seto train leaves from Tōkyō Station at about 10:00 pm and arrives to Kagawa Prefecture’s Sakaide Station at about 7:00 am. Here you can take the “Shimanto” Limited Express and reach Kōchi at 9:30 am.
The Sunrise Setō is one of the few night-trains in Japan, it can be a great travelling experience!
To get to Kōchi Station from Ōsaka you need to reach again Okayama Station by Shinkansen first. There, get on the “Nanpu” Limited Express, which will arrive at Kōchi Station in 2 and a half hours. The time required to reach Kōchi Station from Ōsaka is about 3 hours.
* If you are traveling with the Japan Rail Pass, you can freely take any train, including the Shinkansen and the Limited Express trains. However, be careful that you may not ride the Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen with the Japan Rail, so you will need to chose the slightly slower Hikari and Sakura services.
At the same way, if you wish to ride the Sunrise Seto overnight train, you need to pay a supplement for the use of the coach.
・By night bus
You can reach Kōchi also by travelling with a night-bus leaving from Tōkyō. The average fare is 10.000 yen for a ride, but you can find tickets at 7.000 yen by booking in advance.
(bus search database: http://tinyurl.com/lkkxekt )
Compared to Tokyo, the distance from Osaka and Kochi is quite shorter, so you can also choose a morning or afternoon bus. It takes about 6 hours, and you can enjoy the sights from the giant Akashi and Naruto bridges, linking Shikoku and Honshu through Awaji island. The cost stands around 5000 yen one way (discounts sometimes available).
Bus search (Japanese): http://tinyurl.com/nc5uyd8
・Getting around in Kochi
You can get around by travelling on the handy Tōsa Densha tramway network. The streetcar lines form a cross: it is possible to transfer from the north/south line, which goes from the railway station to the port, to the east/west line at the stop called Harimaya-bashi. The fare for one ride is 200 yen.
Kochi tourist spots
Kōchi Castle is the symbol stronghold of Kōchi: the outer and inner spaces haven’t changed during its history, therefore the building has been designated as an important cultural site (重要文化財, jūyō bunkazai). It was built according to Yamauchi Kazutoyo’s will in 1601 and used also as a residence, besides its military purposes.
The major tower is located on the top of a hill, the view from the top floor is gorgeous: it is possible to see the mountains full of green surrounding Kōchi.
Access: 5 minutes walk form Kōchi-jō Mae Tramway stop, 20 minutes walk from Kōchi Station (JR Shikoku).
Arimaya Bridge (Harimaya-bashi)
Proceeding southwards along the main avenue from Kōchi Station, it is possible to behold a 20 meter-long vermillion-colored small bridge.
This is Harimaya bridge, use from Kōchi’s inhabitants from the Edo Period. It was originally built to connect two wholesale stores, belonging to Harimaya and Hitsuya, two rich merchants.
Access: 15 minutes walk from Kōchi Station, right after Harimaya-bashi Tramway stop.