Yusuhara

A town that celebrates innovation and culture

By Japan Travel    - 3 min read

Yusuhara, Kochi Prefecture, is a small mountainous town with truly special natural landscapes. More than 90% of Yusuhara is covered with forests and a part of the town even belongs to the Shikoku Karst Plateau.

The vast height of the plateau (1,455 m; 4,774 ft) allows for spectacular and unique flora and fauna not found elsewhere in Japan. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Seto Inland Sea to the north from the edge of the Karst Plateau.

The Senmaida of Kanzaiko are stacked rice fields and a wonder to behold; when the writer Ryotaro Shiba visited he described it as "inheritance not to fall behind the Great Wall of China".

Senmaida rice fields at Kanzaiko
Senmaida rice fields at Kanzaiko

Despite its limited farmland, Yusuhara enjoys a lovely and exceptionally modern town center with impressive public buildings. And it is perhaps surprisingly at the forefront of Japanese eco-friendly towns. The town hall in Yusuhara, designed by Kengo Kuma (the architect redesigning the 2020 National Olympic Stadium), has a beautiful wooden exterior that fits right in with the surrounding mountainous region; it also has solar panels that produce 40% of the energy needed to run the electricity of the building.

Yusuhara Town Office
Yusuhara Town Office

In fact, Kengo Kuma’s designs extend past Yusuhara’s town hall to:

  • Community market and hotel, Yusuhara Town Station, blending natural light with the thatched roofs of old
    Yusuhara Town Station
    Yusuhara Town Station
  • Kumo-no-Ue-no Gallery, a wooden bridge-shaped art gallery that makes viewers feel “above the clouds”
  • Nearby Kumo-no-Ue Hotel
    Kumo no Ue no Hotel and Restaurant
    Kumo no Ue no Hotel and Restaurant
  • Yusuhara Town Library
    Yusuhara Town Library
    Yusuhara Town Library

It isn’t all innovation in Yusuhara however; this is also a town that deeply respects culture, traditions, and customs. Yusuhara-za, an old wooden theatre near the town hall, was built in 1948--only 3 years after the end of WWII—when the need for timber was at a high. And yet, the theatre was preserved and even reconstructed to allow it to stand in its present location. The town also totes itself as the place where Sakamoto Ryoma and six lower-ranking samurai left the Tosa Domain and began their campaign for freedom.

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Sleiman Azizi 6 days ago
That really is a picturesque looking town. Interest officially piqued!
Elena Lisina 6 days ago
Good use of a wood! Beautiful!
Kim B 6 days ago
Absolutely love the library design!