Kōchi – 高知
Kōchi is the major city in Kōchi Prefecture, home to about 340,000 people and also many sightseeing spots. The Kuroshio ocean current influence makes Kōchi a warm 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, this is the homeland of Sakamoto Ryōma, who held an important role during Meiji Restoration. At that time Kōchi Prefecture was known as Tosa feud, a name that you can still see in some place or stations names.
Click here to see how to reach this lovely city!
Kōchi 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.
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).
Harimaya Bridge (Harimaya-bashi)
Proceeding southwards along the main avenue from Kōchi Station, it is possible to behold a 20 meter-long vermillion-colored 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.
A unique food market is located close to Kōchi castle: its name, Hirome, seems to come from Hirome Shigeaki, the Tosa clan‘s chief retainer who used to live here. This market was established in 1998 and includes more than 60 restaurants and shops. The site is covered by roofs, chairs and tables are gathered along its ways. It is a perfect spot to take a rest while visiting the city.
Hirome Ichiba is very popular among tourists but also among Kōchi’s citizens: its alleys are always crowded, it’s a place where you can mingle with the local people.
Among Hirome Market’s special dishes we recommend Katsuo no tataki, a kind of lightly broiled bonito (a tuna variety): the surface is chilled and roasted, it is eaten with sauce and condiments. This dish is also known as “Tosa Zukuri“: by being roasted, the aroma gets similar to smoked fish, while the decrease of moisture makes the Katsuo tastier. In fact, the flavor comes to be very deep. For something like 750 yen you can taste a thick piece of Katsuo no tataki!
Access: 1 minute walk from Oohashi-dōri tramway stop.
On mount Godai, in the eastern part of Kōchi, the Chikurin Buddhist temple is located: it is one of the 88 temples of Shikoku. It includes a worthy five-stored pagoda. Close to the temple you can find the Makino Botanical Garden. It is possible to see Makino Tomitarō’s laboratory. The garden includes almost 3000 species of plants, a very interesting site.
Access: reachable by「My yuu bus」fromKōchi Station and Harimaya-bashi.
Katsura Beach is a wonderful sand beach in southern Kōchi. The water is gorgeous but unfortunately the sea current is too strong, therefore entering the water is forbidden. On the other hand, the surrounding area is full of beautiful spots.
Close to the beach it is possible to see a statue of Sakamoto Ryōma: he had a major role during Meiji Restoration by mediating between Satsuma and Chōshū domains.
There is also a small shrine close to the beach: this is located on the top of a hill, so you can enjoy a wide view on the ocean.
Access: reachable by「My Yuu bus」from Kōchi Station and Harimaya-bashi.
We visited Kōchi in May, reaching it on a cool morning by night-bus from Ōsaka.
Kōchi Station’s railways are located on the second floor, the Tourist Office is located on the first floor, next to the ticket gate. The station is a modern design building, with a shape resembling a whale skeleton.
We first got a map and some tourist advices at the information office and then went to the tram stop, in front of the station. We got on a tram heading to Harimaya-bashi and visited Kōchi castle. From the tram’s window we saw the wide road with the palm trees on the sides.
We reached Kōchi castle in the early morning so there were just a few tourists, so we could monopolize the major tower!
After enjoying the castle we visited Hirome Market: it wasn’t midday yet so we could find a stool to seat: of course we had Katsuo no Tataki for lunch: this is one of the best things we’ve tried in Japan so far!
Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit Katsura Beach and Mount Godai. Anyway, we think you can visit the spots we introduced in this article in a day but, if you have time, we recommend you to spend a couple days in Kōchi.