Kouchi Prefecture is located along the southwest coast of the island of Shikoku. Its capital is Kouchi City, which is famous for one of Japan’s best preserved feudal castle, Kouchi Castle, and Sunday Market which has been the city’s weekly tradition for over 300 years. The prefecture is largely rural area offering beautiful mountains, valleys, and beaches. Here we present 10 best places to visit in Kouchi.
1. Katsurahama Beach
Located in Kouchi City, Katsurahama Beach is a scenic beach where swimming is prohibited because of strong currents. The beach is a home to a famous statue of the local samurai hero Sakamoto Ryoma. Ssakamoto was one of the key persons who helped to bring an end to Japan’s feudal age in 1868. On the hill above the beach, there is the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum. You can also find a small aquarium, a small shrine, the Tosa fighting dog museum, and souvenir shops on and near the beach.
From JR Kouchi Station, take Kochiken Kotsu bus to Katsurahama (about 35 minutes).
2. Kouchi Castle
Located in the center of Kouchi City, Kouchi Castle stands on a hill, overlooking surrounding area. It was first built between 1601 and 1611, however, much of the original fortress burned down in 1727 and reconstructed between 1729 and 1753 in the original style. This castle is one of the twelve castles in Japan which retain original constructions, and the only castle in Japan to retain both its original castle keep and its palace, the residence of the feudal lord. The lookout point from the castle tower’s top floor offers nice view of downtown.
From Kouchi Station, take a tram to Kochijo-mae tram stop (about 15 minutes).
3. Sunday Market
One of the oldest outdoor market, which has been a weekly tradition for over 300 years in Kouchi City, stretches along the road towards Kouchi Castle for about 1.3 kilometers. Every Sunday, over 400 stalls line the street selling Kouchi’s local food and products such as fresh vegetables and fruits, breads and sweets, plants, Japanese knives, arts, crafts, and more. The market opens from morning until late afternoon.
About 15 minute walk from Kouchi Station.
4. Shimanto River
This is the longest river in the island of Shikoku, 196 kilometers in length. The river is remote from major cities and dams, and it is sometimes referred to as the last clear stream of Japan. The river slowly makes its way through the natural landscape, and eventually connects with the Pacific Ocean in Shimanto City. Over the river, there are about 47 footbridges which are traditionally built without railings. Because these bridges do not inhibit the flow of the river when the river is flooded, the river is less likely to burst its banks and the bridges are also less likely to be washed away.
You can enjoy rafting and canoeing on the river, camping alongside the river or hiking along the river bank.
From Kouchi Station, take the Tosa Kuroshio Line to Nakamura Station (about 30 minutes).
5. Cape Ashizuri
Located at the southernmost tip of Shikoku, Cape Ashizuri offers great views of the landscape, waters, and horizon from the century-old lighthouse or the Tengu-Nose Observatory.
At the top of a cliff overlooking the sea at Cape Ashizuri, Kongofukuji Temple can be found. This is one of the grandest temples on the 88-temple pilgrimage that runs for 1,200 kilometers around the island of Shikoku.
Near the cape, you can take a break at Ashizuri Hot Spring which is an open-air bath with views of the ocean below.
From Nakamura Station on the Tosa Kuroshio Railway, take a local bus and get off at Ashizuri Misaki bus stop (about 1.5 hours).
6. Cape Muroto
Cape Muroto is located in the south east of Kouchi. It has been shaped by volcanic activity and juts out sharply into the Pacific Ocean, offering dynamic seascapes and landscapes. Going there to see the sunrise or sunset is recommended, you can see the magnificent view.
It is recognized as Global Geopark, and there is the Goepark Visitor Center on the east coast of the cape where you can learn about the geology and features of the area.
From Kouchi Station, take the JR Dosan Line to Gomen Station, change to Gomen-Nahari Line and get off at Nahari Station (about 1.5 hours). Take a local bus bound for Muroto Misaki, get off at Muroto Misaki bus stop.
7. Kashiwa Island
This is a small island situated in the westernmost tip of Kouchi, in Otsuki Town. The island is connected with the mainland by a bridge. The sea around Kashiwa Island is famous for its crystal clear water, and some people even say the water is clearer than in Okinawa. It is a great place for diving and snorkeling since there are more than 1,000 types of sea creatures inhabit here.
From Sukumo Station on Tosa Kuroshio Railway, take Kouchi Seinan Kotsu Bus bound for Michino-eki-Otsuki, get off at Michino-eki-Otsuki bus stop. Take another local bus bound for Kashimashima, get off at Kashimashima bus stop (about 60 minutes).
8. Irino Coast
Less than two hours away from Kouchi City, in the little town of Kuroshio, you can find this beautiful coast which stretches about 4 kilometers. Its clean white sand is carefully preserved as a prefectural natural park. Twice a day when the tides change, the surface of the water becomes like a mirror, reflecting the colors of the sky.
There are several events held at the coast. One of them is the t-shirt art exhibition, which is held in every May, showcasing works of artist from around the world, printed on cotton t-shirts hung in long lines across the beach.
About 10 minute walk from Tosa-Irino Station on the Tosa Kuroshio Railway.
9. Yasui Valley
Yasui Valley spreads out over 10 kilometers amidst the mountain forests of Mount Ishizuchi. The water is known as Niyodo Blue due to its beautiful, clear blue colors of Niyodo River. For the last three consecutive years, its water was ranked as the best in Japan for its quality and transparency. The valley is the major sport for viewing autumn foliage in Kouchi and the area is dotted with waterfalls. You can hike alongside the beautiful river on a trail.
From Ino Station, take the Tosaden Kotsu Bus bound for Nagasawa, and get off at Hodono Iriguchi bus stop. Walk about 20 minutes.
10. Monet’s Garden Marmottan in Kitagawa Village
This garden recreates the world of Claude Monet who is the French impressionist painter in the 19th century. Kitagawa Village is a faithful replica of Monet’s famous garden in Giverny, France and only garden outside his home country.
The Monet’s garden consists of three gardens; Flower Garden, Water Garden and Garden of Bordighera. The Flower Garden presents attractive and colorful flowers which changes its ambience throughout the year. The Water Garden is influenced by Monet’s fascination for Japanese gardens and Japanese woodblock prints called “ukiyo-e”. This garden features a Japanese taiko bridge arched over a pond, Japanese wisterias, willow trees, bamboos and water lilies. The Garden of Bordighera is based on Monet’s expedition to the Mediterranean Sea, with palm and olive trees and other exotic flowers and plants. From this garden, you can enjoy beautiful sceneries of mountains, forests and ocean.
The Monet’s Garden also features a café, bakery, gallery and shop, playground, and nature forest trail.
From Kouchi Station, take JR Dosan Line to Gomen Station. Then, take Gomen-Nahari Line to Nahari Station. Take a local bus bound for Kitagawa-mura and get off at Mone-no-niwa bus stop.
Where to stay
Shimanto Riverside Hideaway – Classic Japanese accommodation yet very stylish and comfortable, the host is friendly and you can enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain and river.
Oyamanoyado Michitsuji – The 100 years old building was renovated into the guest house, two meals are included on your stay with the host’s family, you can get local experience surrounded by nature.
Shimanto River House Yuube-Tei – Limited to 2 pairs only per day, you can enjoy a quiet stay with the view over Shimanto River and the friendly owner will welcome you. You can enjoy BBQ, watching full of stars, SUP lessons (additional fee) with the host.
How did you think about Kouchi Prefecture? In Kouch, you can enjoy traditional culture and history along with abundance of beautiful nature.
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