Kochi Prefecture located in the south of Shikoku Island is a mostly rural area known for being a natural paradise with beautiful mountains, crystal clean rivers and long Pacific beaches. It’s definitely more of an off-the-beaten track destination in Japan and if you are someone who loves the outdoors, then you should absolutely make plans to visit.
We spent 2 weeks travelling around Kochi in our camper van and fell in love with everything it had to offer. Kochi really exceeded our expectations and we will definitely be back in the future to explore more.
In this blog post we will share our favourite spots where we visited while in Kochi prefecture.
Top 9 Things To Do In Kochi Prefecture.
1 .Cape Muroto
The area of Muroto in eastern Kochi has been named by UNESCO as a global geopark and this means its natural beauty is protected while at the same time encouraging eco-friendly tourism. There are a variety of different rock formations due to the activity of two nearby tectonic plates. These two tectonic plates meet in the nearby Nankai Trough which is well known for its earthquake activity.
Some highlights from the area include the lighthouse, the mikurodo-kutsu & shinmei-kutsu caves where Kobo Daishi, the famous monk was enlightened and catching a beautiful sunset if you happen to visit on a clear day.
We filmed a video at Cape Muroto, check it out below!
2. The Niyodo River
The Niyodo river is known for its crystal clear water and boasts the finest water quality of any river in Japan. It has been given the nickname “Niyodo Blue” due to the turquoise colour of its water.
It’s possible to spend a whole day exploring the river and stopping off at different points along the way. If you can visit on a sunny day, the water will look even more idyllic! Some of the places we enjoyed on the Niyodo River were:
- Nakatsu Gorge – a wonderful 2m hiking trail along a rocky gorge which leads to a spectacular waterfall enclosed within tall rocks.
- Yasui Valley – a narrow road leading up a valley with some viewpoints and walking trails. It is a nice place to sit beside the river and enjoy lunch or go for a swim.
- Nikko Deep – a beautiful waterfall which has a stunning blue pool. It’s believed that a God lives within Nikko Deep so it is forbidden to swim at this spot.
- Fishing – while driving along the river, you will notice many fisherman who are attempting to catch Japanese sweetfish. We had a wonderful experience with Nishiwaki San, a local fisherman, who taught us how to fish. We then we had a BBQ afterwards with our catch of the day.
Check out the videos below which we made at the Niyodo River.
3. Shikoku Karst
Shikoku Karst is a plateau located on the border of Kochi and Ehime 1000m-1500m above sea level and is known for its lush green fields dotted with limestone mounds, towering windmills and fantastic stargazing.
It’s a landscape rarely seen in Japan and we heard it’s a great place to enjoy all year round. Due to its moderate temperature, an abundance of cows can be seen while driving the 25km road which winds along the length of the Karst. There are some viewpoints and places to stop while heading along the Karst so you will definitely have plenty of opportunities to take some wonderful photos.
There is also a huge campground located at Shikoku Karst in addition to some rental cottages which have panoramic views over Shikoku, so if you want to escape the summer heat, Shikoku Karst is the perfect place to go!
Check out the video below which we made while visiting Shikoku Karst.
4. The Shimanto River
Spanning 194km, the Shimanto River is Shikoku’s longest river and is surrounded by beautiful mountains in every direction. There are an abundance of water activities on offer such as boating, rafting, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. The Shimanto river is also home to some very unique bridges which were built without sides to reduce the amount of repairs required after heavy rain or typhoons.
We heard that is was possible to craft your own knife so we spent a day beside the river working with a Hiyashi san, a local blacksmith, to make our very own Japanese knife.
There are numerous campsites along the Shimanto river so if you are in the mood to de-stress and surround yourself with nature, then the Shimanto river might be the perfect place for you to visit.
You can check out our video of the Shimanto River and Japanese knife making experience below.
5. Hirome Market
Hirome market, located in the center of Kochi city, is a huge open air food court, and would be best described as a large open-plan izakaya. There are over 60 vendors selling their food and drinks which are delivered to big shared tables in the middle of the hall.
It’s also a great place to meet friendly locals and share a drink. There is an abundance of fresh local food on offer so you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing what to eat.
In the video below, we visited Hirome Market and Kochi’s Sunday Market.
6. Eat Katsuo no Tataki
Katsuo no Tataki is the most famous dish from Kochi prefecture. It is seared bonito fish served with onions, ginger, garlic, spring onions and seasoned with salt or citrus soya sauce.
It’s inexpensive and absolutely delicious so it’s a must-try when visiting Kochi. We visited a restaurant called “Tosa Tataki Dojo” where you can sear your own bonito fish over a fire made from straw.
Check out the video we made about Katsuo no Tataki.
7. Kochi Sunday Market
Held every Sunday, Kochi’s Sunday market started in the year 1690 and is Japan’s oldest outdoor market. It showcases the best produce from Kochi prefecture and a huge variety of vendors can be found selling everything from fruits, knives, antiques, charcoal, cakes, herbs and flowers. The market spans 1.2km and is the best place to find souvenirs and local goodies.
8. Katsurahama Beach
Katsurahama Beach is located on the edge of Kochi city and has been a famous spot to view the moon since ancient times. Pine trees hug the shore and there is a big statue of Sakamoto Ryoma who you can find out more about by visiting the nearby Sakamoto Ryoma museum.
9. Cape Ashizuri
Cape Ashizuri, on the west side of Kochi prefecture is also the most southern tip of Shikoku. At Cape Ashizuri you can see sweeping views of the Pacfic Ocean and rugged coastline as well as enjoying a short hiking trail and foot onsen.