The Kochi Prefecture, on the southern coast of Shikoku Island, is one of the wildest places in the country. The area is bordered by mountains and sea and brims with scenic spots, clear rivers and deep green forests. It is the birthplace of many pioneers such as Sakamoto Ryoma, a samurai who was instrumental in bringing down the feudal government during the Meiji Restoration.CHECK AVAILABILITY
Kochi is a small, friendly city with a vibrant atmosphere and much to see and do. It is home to a variety of cultural traditions that have been nurtured over time, including “Tosa washi” – handmade Japanese paper. The city is adorned with monuments to the past, such as Kochi Castle, old sake breweries and traditional markets and railways – all of which are well preserved.
Nestled on a hilltop in the middle of the city, Kochi Castle is one of just twelve castles that survived the wars of the post feudal period. Every inch of this fine example of Japanese architecture exudes history and antiquity. Journey through its wooden interior and discover the local treasures and ancient objects housed in each room. For the best views of the city, go up the main tower, which functioned as both a military vantage point and the Yamauchi lords’ residence.
Chikurinji Temple, one of the 88 temples along the Shikoku Pilgrimage, is a reputed scholastic institution that attracts pilgrims and students alike. In addition to a beautiful five-storied pagoda, you can explore the temple grounds, which feature an array of halls and shrines. Nearby, the Makino Botanical Garden is also well worth a visit. The gardens were built in honour of the Kochi botanist Dr Tomitaro Makino, the father of Japanese botany. Go for a stroll in the shade of leafy trees and enjoy the soft grass under your feet. The conservatory has a stunning collection of orchids and rock pools and you can learn more about Dr Makino at the museum.
A fun way to get acquainted with the city is to buy a day pass for the Tosaden Kotsu and hop on and off the old-style streetcars at will. Remember to bring comfortable shoes, so you can navigate the castle steps and garden walks with ease.