By Japan Travel
While downtown Kochi is full of shopping bargains and food delights, to really dig into Kochi’s history you need to hit the outskirts of the city, and these follow three compass points. If you are looking for some relaxation and to see how the Japanese take time off, you should head east then south, for the coastline. Along the way, you’ll find an organic market (open Saturdays), a museum dedicated to a local hero, and the classic Katsurahama Beach.
- Local city tour, ideal for cruise ship passengers
- Safe, clean public transport
- Sun, space, beach food stalls
- Scenic beach, great for sunrises and moon watching (not a swimming beach)
- Photogenic shrine on a rocky outcrop
- Museum dedicated to local hero (Ryoma Sakamoto)
- Self-arranged, self-guided – Free, but actual costs additional and payable upon use
- Arranged by Japan Travel - ¥10,800~ booking fee (final fee depends on group size)
- Guided tour by Japan Travel – ¥30,800~ (final fee depends on group size)
- '6 Destinations
- 'avg. 8 hours
- '¥0 - ¥30,800 + transport costs
- 'Families, Solo, Couples
The best way to travel to the southern parts of Kochi city is by My-Yu bus. Leave from Kochi Station on the bus headed for Katsurahama. The My-Yu Bus pass allows you to get on and off as many times as you like. The buses on the weekdays have departures on the hour or every 40 minutes, and on the weekends they are more frequent – please see the bus timetable in the transport options below.
Kochi Prefecture “i“ Information Center Tosa Terrace
Right next to the station is the Kochi Prefecture “i“ Information Center Tosa Terrace, which has a great selection of multilingual brochures and maps to help you get around. Not only do they have Wi-Fi you can access on the premises, but if you don’t mind filling out a form and showing your passport, you can even pick up (borrow) a Wi-Fi Router free of charge – something special Kochi Prefecture offers foreign visitors. Remember that your bus leaves on time from the dedicated JR Kochi Station bus stop located behind the “i” Information Tosa Terrace (near Bakumatsu Heroes Pavillion).
Kochi Organic Market – Saturdays only
Although only open on Saturdays between 08:00 and 14:00, this organic produce market was the first weekly organic market in Japan. There are typically 20-40 stalls focusing on environment-friendly produce and crafts. Here you can buy everything from pesticide-free melons and other seasonal fruit and vegetables to fish and homemade jams and pickles. Alight from the My-Yu bus at the “Sumiyoshi Ike” (Sumiyoshi Lake) stop.
Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum
If you’re interested in Japanese history, you probably know that one of the most pivotal players in the modernization of Japan was one of Kochi’s favorite sons, Sakamoto Ryoma. Although assassinated at the young age of 33, Ryoma nonetheless managed to unite a number of fiefs in support of the Meiji emperor and the dissolution of the traditional shogunate (War Lord) system. He is remembered in a thousand different ways in Tosa (the old name of Kochi), but this museum is surely one of the most intensive efforts.
Just down from the Ryoma Museum, you will arrive at Katsurahama, a scenic and traditionally shaped Japanese beach, that is intended for viewing rather than swimming. In case you are wondering, local currents and rocky outcrops make swimming unpredictable, so if it’s hot a public pool would probably be a better choice.
During the day, visitors take in the sights and then walk down to the beach vendors to buy local icecream (called “Icecrin”), or they walk up to the parking area to find grilled seafood or katsuo-no-tataki skewers. After a snack, most people go lie down on the beach to take in the rays or watch passersby. There is also an aquarium nearby.
At night, the area is popular for moon-watching, but to do this romantic activity you’ll need to arrange some alternative transport to the bus.
Urado Bridge & Environs – Are you a GeoCaching Fan?
If you are into geocaching, there is a treat in store for you at the north end of the Katsurahama peninsular, which is the Urado Bridge. This pre-stressed concrete arch wouldn’t normally be a tourist attraction, especially given its narrow footpath. However, somewhere at the apex (we won’t say exactly where) you will find a rare cache to add to your haul.
Kochi is built on the Urado Bay and used to be bounded by the Kagami and Kokubu rivers. To the south, protecting the city from storms is a low mountain range, upon which are built a number of attractive viewing points, such as the Mount Godai look-out. Traveling to the Katsurahama area is as simple as hopping on the My-Yu bus and traveling to the last stop on the route.
- Walking – the destinations on this tour are probably too far for reasonable access by walking from downtown Kochi.
- Cycling – Access by rental bike to the outskirts of Kochi will be strenuous for anyone not used to cycling, therefore for this tour we recommend bus or other access. However, if you want to make the effort, then bicycles can be rented at the “i” Information Center Tosa Terrace, in front of Kochi Station. They speak English and are friendly. You’ll be asked to write down your Name, Address (your hotel), and Telephone number. Bikes need to be returned each evening so please be back before closing time.
- Taxis – Taxis are widely available, but note that few drivers can speak English. Many drivers have, however, taken courtesy courses and are ready and willing to serve non-Japanese customers.
- Public Transport - The easiest way to get to Katsurahama is to buy a “My-Yu Bus” tourist pass that covers both the tram and bus networks and take the bus. The pass is effectively half the price of a regular ticket, so it’s a good deal, and you can buy it at the “i “ Information Center Tosa Terrace. Bonus Hints: 1) The My-Yu Bus pass will also get you discounts at Kochi castle and other tourist spots. 2) Be aware that the schedules change between weekdays and weekends/holidays, and that the buses service a large number of stops, so you need to allow sufficient travel time if you are heading to Katsurahama Beach.
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