Roots of Japan


Kochi is one of four prefectures that make up Shikoku island.Famous for its connection with Ryoma Sakamoto, it is a must visit for history lovers.It is also a great place to enjoy beautiful nature, such as around the Shimanto River.The most convenient way to travel to Kochi is by plane.Haneda Airport, Itami Airport and Fukuoka airport all have direct flights to Kochi Ryoma Airport.You can also access the area via JR train and highway bus.Today, let's check out the region’s top tourist attractions and local cuisine.

Kochi has an approximate area of 7,104㎢ and an estimated population of 700,000 people.Almost half of the population resides in Kochi City.Kochi is known for its sunny weather and sudden downpours.Getting over 2,000 hours of sunlight per year, the prefecture takes first place for the longest hours of sunlight in Japan.The plains receive around 2,500mm of annual rainfall and the eastern mountainous region, around 4,000mm.While summer is hot and humid and it can be hard to sleep well at night, daytime is quite pleasant so we easily recommend a visit to Kochi, even in summer.

Nature tourism attracts tourists to Kochi, with many visiting the clear waters of the Shimanto River.Let’s now look at a list of exciting tourist attractions and places where you can immerse yourself in the peace and tranquility of nature.
1/ Kochi Castle
2/ Katsurahama (famous beach with a Sakamoto Ryoma statue)
3/ Shimanto River
4/ Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower
5/ Harimaya Bridge
6/ Mt. Godai
7/ Hirome Market
8/ Yanase Takashi Memorial Hall Anpanman Museum
9/ Otonashi Shrine
10/ Shoryuji Temple

Kochi castle is listed as one of Japan's Top 100 Castles.It is the only castle in Japan which has retained its honmaru, or main tower!It also has its original tenshu, or main keep, and subsequently it attracts many visitors wishing to see one of the few original feudal-era castles remaining in Japan.If you are traveling with kids, Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower is a fun place to visit.Inside the tower there is an observation room above sea level and an underwater observation chamber. There is so much to see above and below the crystal-clear sea!Adults and children alike will enjoy seeing fish in their natural environment.

Kochi is, of course, famous for its connection with Ryoma Sakamoto.Let's now check out some of the many tourist spots related to the samurai leader.Anyone who considers themselves a history buff will not want to miss these spots!
1/ Ryoma's Birthplace Memorial Museum
2/ Ryoma's Bronze statue
3/ Ryoma History Museum
4/ Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum
5/ Ishin-no-Mon Gate

Ryoma Sakamoto is well-known throughout Japan, but only Kochi has so many Ryoma related attractions.He is truly one of Japan's most revered historical figures!Ryoma's Birthplace Memorial Museum can be enjoyed even by those not familiar with Ryoma Sakamoto.The museum recreates the Kamimachi district where Ryoma was born and grew up, and Kamimachi at the end of the Edo period, using miniature models. It’s worth checking out!The most famous Ryoma Sakamoto spot in Kochi is probably Ryoma's Bronze statue in Katsurahama, which we mentioned above.Come and see the statue of Ryoma Sakamoto, gazing into the distance.A variety of seasonal events are also held in the surrounding area.If one of them catches your interest, aim to come during that time and you can also enjoy a visit to Katsurahama and Ryoma's Bronze statue.

Now let’s look at the best spots to see cherry blossoms.Kochi, being rich in nature, has many places to see beautiful blossoms.If you visit Kochi in spring, you might like to add some of these places to your itinerary.It's the perfect opportunity to take some beautiful photos!
1/ Ayunose Park
2/ Sukumo Tenmangu Shrine
3/ Hyotanzakura Park
4/ Kagamino Park
5/ Kochi Park

Kagamino Park is among the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in the country.Here you can enjoy a large variety of cherry trees, not only Somei Yoshino, Japan’s most commonly seen cherry blossom.A highlight of the park for many visitors is the beautiful 200-meter cherry blossom tunnel.During the peak blooming period you can enjoy the blossoms at night, as the trees are lit up with “bonbori” paper lanterns.The blossoms are also spectacular at Kochi park, which surrounds Kochi Castle.Here you can enjoy cherry blossoms against the backdrop of Kochi Castle, one of Japan’s top 100 castles!

Next, let’s take a look at some of Kochi’s best spots to enjoy autumn colors.Kochi, a prefecture uniquely blessed with a rich natural environment, is packed with places to enjoy colorful autumn foliage.Check out our list of the top five locations.
1/ Setogawa Valley
2/ Tengu Plateau
3/ Nakatsu Gorge
4/ Befukyo Canyon
5/ Yanase Nishigawa Gorge

Setogawa Valley, surrounded by 1,000-meter-high mountains, is a popular spot to enjoy beautiful autumn colors.Make sure you check out the nearby Amegaeri Falls, which are surrounded by beautiful red and yellow leaves in autumn.Continue upstream and you can also visit Inamura dam.At Tengu Plateau, go hiking and enjoy “momijigari”, or autumn-leaf viewing.Yet another point in this location's favor is that the trails are covered with Japanese cypress wood chips, which provides a softer surface for hikers to walk on.For more active visitors, this is a wonderful spot to enjoy the beautiful autumn colors.

Lastly, let’s look at some of the local cuisine you can enjoy while you're out exploring.A lot of dishes you won’t normally see outside of Kochi, so definitely give some of them a try.You will also have a good story to tell your friends and family!Here are our top five dishes:
1/ Shihochiku (bamboo dish, available only for about a month)
2/ Shuto (Shiokara) (salted and fermented fish entrails)
3/ Koshimeshi (rice with crushed nori seaweed)
4/ Tsuwa Sushi (layered sushi with silverleaves)
5/ Kashikiri (Kashi tofu) (tofu with acorns)

A bamboo dish called Shihochiku is the local specialty from Nankoku city.In this dish, whole bamboo shoots can be boiled with the skin left on, without losing flavor.The harvest season is for only one month from mid-October.Originally, this dish was only available in Kochi.These days it can be bought throughout Japan, but if you happen to visit Kochi in mid-October you will be able to enjoy the taste of local Shihochiku.Shuto, loved by sake fans, is a snack that originated in Tosa, which is the old name for Kochi.Not only is it the perfect side dish for sake, but it also tastes amazing added to a grilled onigiri, or rice ball.Since you’ve come all this way, how about bringing some back as a souvenir from Kochi?

Kochi, known as the home of Ryoma Sakamoto, is packed with things to see and do, and it is the perfect place to visit if you enjoy the history of the late Edo Period.Even people that are not that interested in history can find plenty of places to have fun or relax.Come to Kochi, enjoy exploring, try out the local cuisine and have a fantastic time!

It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.