Kochi's beautiful bayside experience.
Katsurahama is an area of ocean-kissed beauty in Kochi Prefecture. It may not be a beach you can swim at but this coast hosts more than enough natural wonder and is popular with day trippers and longer-stay visitors alike. Visitors can check out the sunrise on New Year’s Day, moon watch, catch the aquarium shows, climb Ryuo point, see the famous Ryoma statue and more.
The beach is immortalised in song and dance (the Yosakoi-bushi) as a perfect place to watch the moon over Tosa Bay. Before that, there’s a half day to wander the beach and park with the area’s famous “aisukurin gelato” in hand should you be there in sunnier days. For something warmer, try the ika-yaki (grilled squid) or katsuo-no-tataki (seared bonito). Once fortified, head up to the Wadatsumi and Haitaka shrines located on Ryuo Point – the ideal spot to look out over the oceans and fill your lungs with fresh sea air.
You’re now ready for a thought-provoking encounter with the Edo period’s Sakamoto Ryoma. The man was a giant in the transition of the country between Shogunate and Emperor and it’s fitting that his statue is larger than life, standing at an imposing 13.5 metres and is just one of several memorials in Kochi dedicated to him. The Ryoma festival takes place around Nov. 15, there’s an observation deck next to the Statue of Ryoma to view the Pacific Ocean. The deck remains for about two months.
Back down on the beach, visit the Katsurahama Aquarium where you can spend a friendly hour or two with akame (Japanese barramundi), tosakin (curly fantail goldfish) or wolf fish. Here, get your photos taken as you march alongside a penguin. Try your luck at the fishing pond. Feed the otters, turtles or tortoises. Daily sea lion shows are also performed with gusto at the show pool as you can probably hear with all the barking in the background. These take place for no extra cost at 11am, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
If the aquarium is not for you, head back to Kochi city center, you can drop by one of the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage temples (this one being 33 Sekkeiji) for some quiet contemplation. Japan’s most famous pilgrimage spans some 750 KM and can take between 30 and 60 days to complete.