What To Do In Kochi, Japan | CoolJapan

In less than two hours from Tokyo, you can find yourself in a little-known paradise called Kochi. Set on the southern side of Shikoku, this prefecture cradles the Pacific Ocean and is full of incredible nature gems like a 300 million-year-old gorge.

An easy hike along the Nakatsu Gorge leads you to the Uryu no Taki waterfall.

Wild and untamed as its landscape, Kochi people are known for their passion for outdoor activities. Here, expect to be overwhelmed with the endless list of nature activities from whale-watching, surfing, hiking, fishing, caving, paragliding to paddle-boarding. The list goes on. It’s not just for active travellers either. Families can relax by the river; couples can enjoy intimate dinners of sumptuous local cuisine and solo travellers can unplug from the world in one of many Kochi’s serene spots.

The boulders in Cape Muroto were formed when the earth pushed the ground up during the earthquakes thousands of years ago. Such beauty in the face of resilience is immediately evident in the tenacious spirit of Kochi folks.

Fall in love with the beauty of “Niyodo Blue”

The Niyodo River, possibly the purest in Japan, is home to some of the world’s most luxuriant camping grounds. Where else can you wake up to technicolour turquoise waters set in the background of lava rock?

Just a short drive from Kochi City is this hidden gem. Canoe down Niyodo River and stop by for a relaxing hot spring dip or even a pint at a beer brewery.

Sail along spectacular Shimanto River

The longest waterway in the Shikoku region, the Shimanto River is sprinkled with scenes of fishermen working, families camping and children playing. As Japan’s last pristine river, it is also where you can witness traditional fishing practices including Shirasu Unagi-ryo (juvenile eel fishing).

Fishing boats on the Shimanto River seeking shirasu unagi (juvenile eels), happening only in January.

The best way to experience this veritable tableau of local life is perhaps by boat. Take it up a notch by hopping into a senba boat, a roofless vessel first used almost a century ago, and go on a 45-minute cruise. You can also cycle beside the rugged mountain ranges or canoe in the unspoilt waters of the river. The possibilities are endless.

Enjoy the clear waters up close in a traditional wooden boat called senba.

Whale you or won’t you?

Kochi’s magnificent coast has another secret to offer — whales. This is one of the best places in Japan for whale watching, and your chances are increased if your trip is between April and September. The stunning views of the sea and the majestic creatures (if you are lucky) will undoubtedly take your breath away.

Gorge yourself in the wonders formed by history

Carved by the Niyodo River, this majestic gorge was formed more than 300 million years ago. A sacred Shinto area, the easy hiking trailer is dotted with seven statues of deities. See if you can spot them without being distracted by the wonder of the massive boulders of luscious colours.

Cave into the splendour of Ryugado

For the historian in you, how about a peek into Shikoku’s ancient history? Once the homes of prehistoric humans from Japan’s Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD), Ryugado Cave is now the abode to more than 100 species of animals. These limestone caves, discovered almost a century ago, are thought to be over 175 million years old. Mysterious and awe-inspiring, they are one of the three largest limestone caves in Japan, measuring 4km in total.

Spectacular sea views and seafood

One of the best parts about Kochi is undoubtedly the seemingly infinite choices of sea view dining. Take your pick from sprawling open-air terraces or a panoramic view right at the edge of the water. Feast on local delicacies like seared bonito sprinkled with sea salt especially sun-dried by salt masters in Kuroshio Town. You can even fulfil the dream of being a Japanese chef by cooking your food over an open straw flame, under the kind eye and guidance of local staff.

A luxury train “Shikoku Tosa Toki no Yoakeno Monogatari” (meaning “Tale of the Dawn of an Era”) will show you all the highlights of Kochi in 2.5 hours on weekends.

Kochi should definitely be on your list for post covid travel in Japan. Being less accessible than other destinations only means that it will be all the more enjoyable once you make that trek. And the dazzling array of activities and cuisine choices doesn’t hurt either. Kochi definitely deserves a place on your post-pandemic bucket list.

(Cover photo from: Kochi Visitors & Convention Association)

With an innate curiosity for the world, Poppy is an intrepid traveller who believes the next big adventure is always just around the corner.
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