Travelers to Cape Ashizuri in southern Kochi Prefecture should pay a visit to Tatsukushi Kaigan, a beautiful coastline with unique stone formations. Designated Japan's first National Marine Park in 1970, the area is popular for snorkeling and scuba diving due to an impressive coral reef teeming with fish and other sea creatures.
For those who prefer to stay on land, this walking trail around a small peninsula can be enjoyed in only about 30 minutes. Erosion by strong wind and waves has created interesting rock formations in the approximately 5000-year-old sandstone. For in-depth information about the area's geological history, the Tatsukushi Sightseeing Volunteer Association offers mini-tours along the trail by very knowledgeable guides (0880-85-0405). However, at this time the tours are only in Japanese.
Tatsukushi means dragon skewers and was so named since the rocks appear to be a line of bamboo skewers extending from the dragon-shaped hills along the coast. Many of the other formations have been described in everyday terms like 'senjojiki' (1000 tatami mats) and 'kabuto-iwa' (helmet rock). As visitors look for these formations along the trail, they can also enjoy beautiful ocean views.
A small tourist information center and public restrooms sit beside the large, free parking lot at the trail entrance/exit. There is also the 'Umi-no-Gallery', a mini-museum dedicated to seashells. It is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm (5:00pm in July & August), is closed on Thursdays, and has an entrance fee of ¥300 for adults, ¥100 for children. The museum sometimes holds craft workshops for children.
Also connected to the trail is a dock for glass-bottom boats that takes tourists on a scenic ride over the coral reefs and to Minokoshi, another section of the coast famous for its unique rock formations.
To learn more about what is under the water's surface in Tatsukushi, visit the nearby Ashizuri Aquarium and the Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower. Summer visitors can swim at Sakurahama Beach while staying overnight at the Sakurahama Beach Resort, a quaint local ryokan, or at the Tsumajiro Campsite.
The best way to reach Tatsukushi is by car. However, it is also possible to reach the coast by mass transportation. Take the Tosa Kuroshio Railway to Nakamura Station. Then, take a bus to the Tatsukushi Kaigan bus stop.