Written by Chiara Mischke
10 Things To Do In Kochi: Scenic Spots, History, And Cuisine
Kochi Prefecture is located in Japan’s Shikoku Island. It is a less touristy place full of stunning nature, history, and delicious food. In this article, we introduce ten places to explore, things to do, and local dishes to taste in Kochi.
Kochi - Discover Amazing Views, History, and Delicious Local Food
Kochi, located in Japan’s Shikoku Island, is famous for scenic nature and delicious skipjack tuna as well as for its yuzu production. Kochi also boasts a rich history with one of Japan's most famous samurai, Ryoma Sakamoto, being born in here.
Prior to the Meiji Restoration, Kochi was known as the Tosa Province. Nowadays, there still is a city named Tosa in Kochi Prefecture.
We introduce ten activities and things to enjoy in Kochi, a beautiful though lesser-known region of Japan.
1. Kochi Castle - A Designated an Important Cultural Property
Picture from Kochi Castle - An Elegant Castle From The Edo Period
Kochi Castle is located in Kochi City. This monument has been designated an important cultural property.
Kochi Castle was originally built in 1610 and then rebuilt in 1664. After having partially burned down in 1727, the current castle tower was rebuilt in 1749. Even after this reconstruction, it is the only castle in Japan with its main building's base structure still preserved.
Kochi Castle has been chosen as one of the one hundred most beautiful castles in Japan. It is an impressive castle that truly radiates history.
2. Ryoma Sakamoto Museums - Wander in the Footsteps of the Famous Samurai
Ryoma Sakamoto lived between 1836 and 1867. Although he was a great fighter, he is remembered for his rather calm nature and his wish to choose peaceful resolutions over violence.
He eventually created an opportunity to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate without war. His proposal was accepted and, as a result, the imperial court was restored complete political power. Because not everyone agreed with his vision, he ended up being assassinated in Kyoto in 1867.
Ryoma Sakamoto is one of Japan's national heroes and remains in the people's memory for bringing peace to the land. If you wish to learn more about his life and achievements, do visit Sakamoto Ryoma's Hometown Museum or the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, which are both located in Kochi City.
3. Katsurahama - A Picturesque Beach with a Bamboo Grove
Katsurahama Beach is the most popular beach in Kochi. An emerald green pine grove rises along the azure ocean shoreline making it a breathtaking sight.
This beach is a popular spot both at daytime and at night . It's the perfect place for stargazing and moon viewing when the sky is clear.
The area around the beach is known as Katsurahama Park. It is home to the bronze statue of local hero Ryoma Sakamoto, the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, the Tosa Dog Museum and the Katsurahama Aquarium.
4. Niyodo River - Scenic Views of Blue Water and Waterfalls
Niyodo River is said to have the highest quality water of any river in Japan. The beautiful blue hue of the water gave birth to the term "Niyodo Blue", which refers to the distinctive color of its waterflow.
The beautiful blue color can be enjoyed mainly during the autumn and winter months. At other times of the year, the water is more of a greenish color.
While the river flows through Kochi and Ehime, it is said to be the clearest and most beautiful at Yasui Ravine. The area is surrounded by a lush green forest and you can stroll along the river. This scenery is especially beautiful in the fall as the area is home to many Japanese maple trees whose leaves turn bright red in November.
The Yasui Ravine is where you'll find two beautiful waterfalls: Mikaeri Falls and Hiryu Falls. They might be rather small, but are very impressive. You can actually get incredibly close to them.
The Akataki Falls on Niyodo River is one of the rare places in Japan where you can see a frozen waterfall! This phenomenon only occurs if the temperatures are below the freezing point for several days in a row.
Whatever tints the water blue also reacts with some of the rock formations along the river. The resulting hue is reminiscent of blood and we couldn't help but wonder if these stones are connected to stories about vengeful river spirits.
5. Monet's Garden - The Only Garden of its Kind
Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France, was one of the main sources of inspiration for influential artist Claude Monet. The garden, designed after a Japanese garden, was featured in many of his paintings.
Monet’s Garden has been replicated in Kitagawa, Kochi Prefecture. The Kitagawa Village "Monet’s Garden" Marmottan is the only recreation in the world which has been allowed to use the name “Monet’s Garden”.
This unique garden truly reminds one of Monet's paintings. An estimated amount of 70,000 plants grow on the premises. Rare blue water lilies are in bloom from late June to early November.
The entrance fee is 700 yen for adults and 300 yen for elementary and secondary school students.
6. Visit a Yuzu Orchard
Kochi is plays a very important role in Japan's yuzu production. Yuzu is a fruit unique to Asia which is about the size of a lime and an orangey-yellow color when ripe. Certain types can also be harvested when it is still green.
Yuzu has a strong, distinctive aroma, is very tart and can be used as flavoring in a variety of dishes that can be sweet or savory.
It is customary in Japan to add yuzu in the bathwater or in hot spring baths at the winter solstice. It is believed to help in maintaining one's health through its revigorating aroma and benefits.
Yuzu is a fruit usually harvested in the autumn and winter months. When the yuzu are fully ripe, a beautiful fragrance wafts from the yuzu orchards.
Some places allow you to take guided tours in the yuzu orchards. Since yuzu mainly grows in the mountainous areas, you can enjoy a breathtaking view alongside the unique scent of tart yuzu fruit.
7. Kuretaisho Market - Fresh Fish and Vegetables from Kochi
The Kuretaisho Market is a popular fish market in Kochi with more than one hundred years of history. Fresh fish is on offer usually from about 11:00 every day. They also offer local fruit and vegetables.
The market is rather small and most of the stalls are family-owned. The fishermen offer their catch of the day while their families created delicious dishes with it.
It is highly recommended to visit while hungry to pick up some food at the market and enjoy it right away. One of the restaurants at the end of the street lets you pick small dishes from one of the fish shops to be prepared in the restaurant, then served alongside rice and miso soup.
Kaisendon is another popular dish that can be enjoyed at this market. It is a bowl of rice topped with fresh local sashimi.
8. Hirome Market - A Market and an Izakaya in One
Hirome Market is a commercial facility located next to Kochi Castle. It is a market but also an open space izakaya (Japanese local bar).
Benches and seats are scattered around the area. You can pick up take out from a variety of shops to sit down and enjoy local food as well as standard Japanese dishes.
It is very common to enjoy a couple of drinks here from around noon.
We recommend the yuzu draft beer. It is draft beer laced with 100% yuzu juice which gives it a refreshing flavor.
Drinking and eating are not the only things one can do at Hirome Market. It is a great place to pick up souvenirs and local snacks as well.
9. Straw-grilled Skipjack Tuna at Kuroshio Kobo
Skipjack tuna, or katsuo, is the ultimate delicacy in Kochi. The water quality around the coast of Kochi makes the fish meat extremely juicy, flavorful, and slightly sweet.
Kuroshio Kobo prides itself for being the inventor of grilling the tuna in a fire fueled with straw. While slightly grilled skipjack tuna is a Kochi specialty since centuries, the burning straw adds a distinct smoky flavor to the tuna you can not achieve with conventional methods.
At Kuroshio Kobo you can either just enjoy the dish itself or take part in the straw grilling experience. The chef will show you how to separate the tuna, flavor it, and then bake it in the straw fueled flame.
This is a very unique experience you can only enjoy at Kuroshio Kobo, nowhere else in Japan. The skipjack tuna straw grilling experience for up to four people starts from 3,500 yen. Make sure to make a reservation beforehand.
10. Try Locally Brewed Sake and Yuzu Liqueur at Bijofu
Kochi's locally brewed sake is praised for their dry and smooth quality. It goes extremly well with the local cuisine.
Bijofu is one of the most highly regarded sake breweries in Kochi. They have refined the way they purify their water and use local ingredients to make a delicious, high-quality sake.
While they do offer a wide variety of sake, they also make fruit liqueurs including yuzu flavored liqueurs. The yuzu liqueur is surprisingly refreshing and not too heavy or sweet. It exists in a sparkling and a non-sparkling version.
Bijofu sake is rather affordable for the quality they offer. Their sake is priced from 1,000 yen and up. Their sake and liqueurs make a great souvenir from Kochi.
Kochi - Rich History, Nature, and Delicious Food
Kochi is a great place to visit if you want to experience rich nature, interesting historical places as well as delicious fresh tuna. It is not very known to tourists outside of Japan so you can enjoy most of the places introduced above without having to make your way through large crowds.
If you wish to visit a place off the beaten path in Japan, why not choose Kochi for your next trip?
In cooperation with KITKAT Japan, Nestle Japan and Bijofu Brewery