By C. Rio
When I visit the beach, I am usually going to enjoy some time out in the waves. Those looking to take a dip in the Pacific will be disappointed to find out that swimming at Katsurahama Beach is prohibited due to dangerous waves, currents, and rocks. Luckily, Katsurahama has so much more to offer, you will quickly forget about your squashed plans for swimming or surfing (plus, the water’s freezing!).
Katsurahama Beach would be better called a park, and it is located about 30 km south of Kochi City. Situated on the picturesque Tosa Bay, the beach boasts a small aquarium (with a dolphin show!), the Tosa Dog Fighting Center, and the Ryoma Sakamoto Memorial Museum and huge bronze statue. Omiyage shops sell local souvenirs, and restaurants serve Kochi’s famous bonito dish (katsuo no tataki). There is truly something for everyone! Soaring pine trees, a crescent-shaped swath of dark gravelly sand, sparkling water, and a high rocky point with a small shrine make Katsurahama a perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring. There is even a hotel on a cliff high above the water if you want to spend the night and participate in the famed moon viewing on the beach.
As you drive over the ridiculously high bridge to Katsurahama, look down to see huge ships entering and exiting the bay. When you arrive at the beach, climb up a few sets of stairs from the parking area to see the sprawling park stretching out in a half moon between Kamiryuzuzaki and Shimoryuzuzaki capes. Huge rocks jutting out of the water are quite striking, and waves crash in forcefully. The aquarium’s speakers blast out “peaceful” music that may or may not heighten the serenity, but it definitely adds a distinctly Japanese touch. Learn about Kochi’s history by reading interesting plaques around the park, most conveniently translated into English! You are sure to learn a lot about Ryoma Sakamoto, Kochi’s favorite native son and a key figure in the Meiji Restoration, even if you don’t head up to the eponymous museum.
Though the museums and aquarium have fees, it is totally worth coming to just soak in the beach’s natural beauty for free. Local picnickers and tourists mingle on the paths cutting across the park, and the atmosphere is relaxed. However, don’t venture too close to the water or a guard might stop you!
Beautiful in all seasons, perfect for families, and affordable for the budget traveler, Katsurahama is truly a symbol of Kochi and is not to be missed!
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