It’s time for ‘Japan by Prefecture‘ again! This is the series that aims to provide the highlights of each prefecture of Japan, along with my personal favourites and suggestions from readers. This week, we’re looking at Kochi (高知県).
Kochi Prefecture is located on the island of Shikoku (四国), the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. The capital is Kochi (高知市). Thanks to Artemis, Zooming Japan and Japan Australia for contributing to this week’s post with some great ideas! I’ve not been to Kochi Prefecture, and unfortunately I won’t have the chance when I visit Shikoku soon, but I’m sure I’ll get to go there someday!
Despite its relative size, Kochi doesn’t seem to have all that many tourist attractions. Instead, I think a lot of Kochi is made up of beautiful coastal and rural areas, which must be lovely to drive around and explore. Kochi Prefecture’s most well-known areas are centred around Kochi City. One unmissable sight has to be Kochi Castle (高知城), one of Japan’s twelve original castles. First constructed between 1601 and 1611, most of its buildings actually date from 1748 when they were reconstructed after a fire.
If you’ve been paying attention over the last few weeks you’ll have heard me mention the Shikoku Pilgrimage (四国遍路 / Shikoku Henro) which consists of 88 temples located in Shikoku. A number of these are in Kochi, and one of the most significant is Chikurinji (竹林寺), which is number 31. Chikurinji is located on Godaisan (五台山), a small mountain to the east of downtown Kochi. The mountain was named after a Chinese mountain by visiting Buddhist priests from China, and the temples was established by the same priests. The temple has a reputation as being a scholastic institution and attracts pilgrims as well as students.
For something a little bit different, Katsurahama (桂浜) is a beautiful beach worth visiting in Kochi Prefecture. Unfortunately it’s not possible to swim here because of the strong currents, but it’s still a beautiful place to visit.
If you are visiting Katsurahama look out for the nearby statue of Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本 龍馬), a main player in the overthrowing of the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Bakamatsu period (the end of the Edo period – roughly 1853 – 1867). Sakamoto Ryoma was born in Kochi in 1836, and today the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum stands in his honour on a hill above the beach.
Finally, as recommended by Zooming Japan, when in Kochi Prefecture one really must try a dish called ‘katsuo no tataki’ (鰹のタタキ). Katsuo no tataki is lightly broiled, sliced bonito (skipjack tuna), served with spring onions, ginger and garlic. It is usually seasoned with salt or soy sauce with vinegar and citrus. Traditionally the fish should be broiled over a straw fire until just the outer layer is grilled a little bit – yum!
The Omiyage Section
There aren’t that many souvenirs (or ‘omiyage’ / おみやげ) that are famous in Kochi Prefecture, so a lot of what you will find in souvenir shops will be local produce such as katsuo (skipjack tuna) products and also citrus fruit. According to the Kochi Prefecture homepage, the area is also known for: Tosa-washi paper, deep seawater (used in a number of beauty products and beverages), wooden briefcases made from cedar (random!), Tosa blades used for kitchen knives and coral products such as jewellery.
(Image sources: 1)
I’m taking a little break from Japan by Prefecture now, but will be back with the remaining eight prefectures (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa) early next year. The next post will be Fukuoka, so get your thinking caps on and let me know what’s good to see and do there! I’ve not been to Kyushu at all, so I’m going to need your help with the next part of the series.
Although I’m taking a break from this series, I won’t be taking a break from blogging! I’ve got a few book reviews to catch up on over the next few weeks (sorry to those who have sent me books!) and then from mid-November I will be posting brief updates from Japan as I travel around until just before Christmas. My trip is half work and half holiday, so I’ll be busy, but over Christmas and the New Year period I’ll share more detailed posts about everything I got up to. If it’s anything like my last trip I’ll still be writing in June… 😉
Thanks for reading!