Kochi is a prefecture with a capital city that also happens to be called Kochi. Let me introduce Kochi the prefecture to you.
On the smallest of Japan's main four islands, Shikoku, you will find four prefectures: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. Knowing no neighbors except for the incredibly lush, temperate rainforest covered mountains to the north, and the wide open blue of the Pacific Ocean to the south, Kochi is in many ways a land to itself. This crescent shaped land stretches the expanse of the southern side of the island, embracing many natural and cultural treasures alike.
Unlike the major metropolises of Japan, Kochi can not boast huge shopping districts, modern architecture, or the latest trends in a new sub culture pop phenomena.
What we do have to offer in Kochi is simple living, a lot of nature, a warm and welcoming spirit, followed by a host of outdoors activities such as surfing, camping, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, sea kayaking, white water rafting, and more. Oh, I forgot to mention some of the best local cuisine in the world!
Kochi City is the capital, as well as the largest city. It is a coastal city of about 300,000 in the middle of the prefecture. Other notable semi-urban/rural areas include Aki, Ino, Muroto, Nakamura, and Ashizuri.
The main local dish is called katsuo no tataki, and is made by taking a large slab of bonito tuna, lightly searing it over burning rice stalks, then serving thick slices drizzled in citrus juice, topped with sea salt, garlic, wasabi, and sliced onion. This almost primeval dish is heavenly.
Yosakoi is the most well known festival on a national level. For three days and nights, the major streets of the cities are filled by thousands of dancers in colorful costumes who parade behind trucks blasting music from the live performers they carry.
The most notable historical figure in Kochi was a boot wearing, six-shooter carrying, cowboy-samurai by the name of Sakamoto Ryoma. He was assassinated in Kyoto on his 33rd birthday in 1867 due to his leadership role in the notoriously bloodless movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Meiji Restoration. His story was recently popularized in a national television series. This is a character you'll definitely want to look in to before coming.
Kochi was also the starting place for the women's rights movement in Japan, becoming the second place in the world to allow women's suffrage. Tosa women are very prideful of their ability to work hard, endure any hardship, and drink a lot. The men are very scared of them.
For the traveler, Kochi can present some significant language barriers as most people don't speak English, and many places lack English signs. While this may be a challenge for some, others may find it thrilling. Regardless of which kind of person you are, the people of Kochi are always very willing to help—and you'll be surprised by the number of, usually older, people who may suddenly call out to you in very broken English to ask, “Where from?”
My advice to you is this, go do the things in Japan that all the guide books tell you to, but block out a few days at the end of your trip to spend in Kochi.
You can't possibly go wrong in a place that takes so much pride in its history, warmheartedness, local food, and drinking culture.
Is it easy to get here? No. We are very much out of the way from everything else.
Is it worth coming? Definitely. Kochi is a place that has just got to be experienced. Read more about Kochi here at JapanTravel.com and plan the type of experience you'd like to make it.
So come, get lost, and experience the Kochi that cannot possibly be put into words. I can honestly say it is one of the best places in the world.