Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Kochi
Population
813,980

Kochi

Into the wild

Wild and rebellious, Kochi is one of Japan’s most rewarding off-the-beaten-track destinations.

In the past, Kochi’s inaccessible landscape meant it was cut off from the rest of Japan, leaving the prefecture to form its own distinct personality as strong and untamed as its natural surroundings. Kochi people are resilient, self-reliant and just a little rebellious; known for their drinking stamina, championed by assertive hachikin women, disdain for materialism and most of all, a love of the great outdoors. Whale-watching, surfing, hiking, fishing, caving, paragliding and paddle-boarding are just some of the outdoor activities on offer, while Kochi also makes up the most challenging part of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Kochi is an outdoor sports mecca.

Surf, hike, cave, fish and kayak in Kochi.

Crescent-shaped Kochi is the largest of Shikoku’s four prefectures, covering much of the island’s southern half in rugged mountains sloping down to the Pacific ocean. Most of the population are clustered together in the narrow pockets of habitable land around the Shimanto river and towards the coast. Kochi city in the center of the prefecture is the best place to start exploring the region. Visit the emblematic Kochi Castle, browse the stalls of the 300 year-old Sunday street market and stroll along Katsurahama beach, watched over by a statue of favorite samurai rebel, Sakamoto Ryoma.

Visit one of Japan's last surviving original castles.

Visit one of Japan’s last surviving original castles.

To the east lies the dramatic Cape Muroto. On your way you can stop by Ryuga Cave, a limestone cave formed over 175 million years. Explore the main chambers on foot or by crawling your way through the inner sections on the adventure course. Head to the tip of the peninsula for whale-watching and surfing, using picturesque Kiragawa with its traditional streets and yuzu-filled hot spring baths as a base.

The Shimanto river runs through the western part of Kochi; Shimanto is the place to organise your outdoor activities as well as witness traditional torchlight fishing in the summer, and hit up the ski slopes in the winter. Along the coast are more dolphin and whale-watching cruises, plus surfing and hot springs. Remote and desolate Cape Ashizuri offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, especially from temple no. 38 on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Venture into the great Kochi outdoors.

Venture into the great Kochi outdoors.

Set aside enough time to get to know Kochi’s incredible food. The seared bonito (katsuo no tataki) is a highlight, as is the pork and wild mountain vegetables. Yuzu is the champion fruit and you can’t leave without challenging a local to Kochi’s infamous sake drinking game, bekuhai.

Places to visit

Kochi Castle

What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Kochi Castle!

Usa Shiokaze Park

Whale watching along Kochi's magnificent coast.


Ryugadou Cave

Explore the underground depths of Kochi's prehistoric past.

Kochi Yosakoi

Ekin Museum

A truly magical find that offers a once-in-a-trip opportunity.

Makino Botanical Gardens

Flora, fauna and fascination at these lovely botanical gardens.


Hirome Market

Get to know the real Kochi at this fantastically friendly indoor market and izakaya.

Katsurahama

Kochi's beautiful bayside experience.

Other Destinations in Shikoku

Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime prefecture

Ehime

Pilgrim paths and ancient baths; Ehime is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

Kompira-san shrine in Kagawa Prefecture

Kagawa

For pilgrims on the Shikoku 88 this is the end of the road. But that doesn’t mean you should stop exploring - Kagawa's array of attractions won’t let you anyway.

Iya valley and Kazurabashi vine bridge, Tokushima Prefecture

Tokushima

Bordered by rugged mountain cliffs on one side and ocean whirlpools on the other, travelling through Tokushima feels like an Indiana Jones adventure.