Kochi Things to Do

  • Sakamoto Ryoma Bench
    Sakamoto Ryoma Bench
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    Katsurahama Beach
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    Yamauchi Residence
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Most Recent Things to Do in Kochi

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    Harimayabashi - the red bridge

    by IreneMcKay Updated May 9, 2014

    Harimayabashi is a small red bridge on the west side of Kochi's main street. It is famous because it is connected with a Kochi legend.

    A priest from Godaisan fell in love with a girl from Kochi. However, because he was a priest, he was forbidden from marriage or sexual relationships. The couple were forced to meet in secret. One day a local busybody saw the priest buying a hair comb in one of the stalls at Harimayabashi. Suspicious, they questioned why he would need such an item and the hidden romance was discovered. The couple were forced to flee the city or face a dreadful punishment.

    This legend was made into a famous Japanese song sung by Peggy Hayama in the 1960s. A statue at the bridge commemorates the unfortunate lovers. The bridge is set in a small park.

    Harimayabashi - the red bridge
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    Sunday Market.

    by IreneMcKay Updated May 9, 2014

    If you are fortunate enough to be in Kochi on a Sunday, have a stroll around its large Sunday Market.

    This market has taken place on Sunday mornings in Kochi since 1690. The market centres around Outesuji, a main street in the centre of Kochi. The market stretches for around 1.3 kilometers. The market sells lots of local produce and is a colourful and interesting place to visit.

    The Sunday Market.
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    Kochi Castle

    by IreneMcKay Updated May 9, 2014

    Kochi Castle is one of only a dozen Japanese castles that have survived intact to the present day. It was built between 1601 and 1611. However, many of its main buildings date from 1748 when they were rebuilt following a fire. Kochi Castle was once home to the Yamauchi lords who ruled over the surrounding region. From the castle tower there are apparently good views over Kochi.

    When we arrived at the castle, it had already closed, but we enjoyed wandering around its grounds. Darkness descended as we were leaving and lanterns were being lit along the river at the edge of the castle grounds. It was very atmospheric and pretty.

    Kochi Castle. At the edge of the castle grounds.
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    Former Yamauchi Samurai Residence

    by Rabbityama Written Mar 6, 2014

    The Yamauchi family were the rulers of Tosa Province during the Edo Period. The Former Yamauchi Residence is a well-preserved building dating back to the 19th century. It has been designated an Important Cultural Property. There are two floors. The first floor has displays iin each room viewable from the outside. The second floor is like a small museum with displays of objects from the family and the era.

    This is a really great place to visit in conjunction with Kochi Castle for those who want to experience Kochi as a castle town. I was surprised that it's also completely free.

    Former Yamauchi Residence Yamauchi Residence Former Yamauchi Residence Inside Yamauchi Residence Former Yamauchi Residence
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    Chikurinji Temple

    by Rabbityama Written Feb 5, 2014

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    Chikurinji Temple is arguably the most famous temple in the city. It was built about 1300 years ago to be Japan's version of the Chinese Chikurinji which was said to be where a Buddhist saint who spoke great wisdom resided. The temple was built here because the mountain resembled Godaisan, where the Chinese temple was located. The mountains name was even renamed Godaisan.

    The Priest Kukai also visited here, so it was designated the 31st temple of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. It's a very peaceful place and has many buildings that make it a nice visit, including a pagoda. The grounds are free, but it costs 400 yen to see the garden and temple treasures. The garden is nice and said to resemble Urado Bay. The treasure house contains statues from the Fujiwara and Kamakura Periods.

    Chikurinji Temple Chikurinji Temple Gate Chikurinji Temple Garden Chikurinji Temple Chikurinji Temple
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    Makino Botanical Garden

    by Rabbityama Written Jan 22, 2014

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    The Makino Botanical Garden is a large botanical garden on Mount Godaisan. It was built in honor of Tomitaro Makino, a very important botanist. He actually collected samples of over 400,000 species of plants for his study in his original book. He discovered and named over 1500 new plant species, as well. His books remain invaluable resources for botanists today.

    The garden's grounds are very large with many different sections each featuring different plants. The summer and early autumn are the best seasons to visit but it's worthwhile year-round. In addition to the expansive outdoor gardens, there is also a conservatory containing many tropical plants and lillies. There is also a museum about Makino himself and his achievements. Be prepared to spend about 2 hours here if you want to see everything. It was a lot larger than I thought when I entered.

    Entrance is 700 yen.

    Makino Botanical Garden Makino Botanical Garden Conservatory Makino Botanical Garden Makino Botanical Garden Makino Botanical Garden
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    Yamauchi Shrine

    by Rabbityama Written Nov 15, 2013

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    Yamauchi Shrine was originally built in 1871 in honor of the former rulers of Tosa Province. The Yamauchi family ruled from Kochi Castle for 16 generations. The original shrine was destroyed by bombings in WWII. The shrine was not rebuilt until 1970. This is the shrine you see today. Most of the shrine itself is ordinary. Within the shrine grounds is a turtle stone.

    The highlight of the shrine is its treasure house. Unfortunately, the treasure house was closed the day I visited. It houses thousands of treasures owned by the Yamauchi family. If I return to Kochi, I definitely want to visit the museum.

    The shrine is free. The Treasure House is 300 yen.

    Yamauchi Shrine Yamauchi Shrine's Turtle Stone
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    Chikyu 33 Banchi

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 24, 2013

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    Kochi city sits in a unique geographic location. Within the city is the point 133*33'33"East Longituge, 33*33'33" North Latitude. The number 33 appears in all six coordinates (and the number 3 appears 12 times), which is very rare. Only 9 other places on the planet share this distinction. Those are in Nigeria, Indonesia, Guinea, Botswana, Libya, and 3 in Russia. It is said that this one is the most easily accessible.

    The Chikyu 33 Banchi is a monument that pinpoints the exact spot (which is on the Enokuchi River), so you can stand at 133*33'33"East Longituge, 33*33'33" North Latitude.

    Looking up from Chikyu 33 Banchi Chikyu 33 Banchi Monument Chikyu 33 Banchi Chikyu 33 Banchi
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    Tosa Dog Fighting Center

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 9, 2013

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    Most people probably don't associate Japan with dog fighting, but it was once a relatively popular spectator sport. There were trainers from around the country entering their dogs to compete in contests. Now however, most parts of the country outlaw dog fights, but here in Kochi the tradition has survived. The Tosa dog breed is a mix that was created and bred specifically for the purpose of dog fights. The breed is actually banned in many countries.

    Visitors can see the dog fights at the Tosa Dog Fighting Center in Katsurahama. After you buy your ticket and go upstairs you can take a look at the small dog fighting museum with memorabilia, news articles, and other items related to the fights.

    I was admittedly a bit nervous as I waited in the stands before the fight, but I was curious to witness this unique part of Kochi culture, so I waited. The fight I witnessed was not as gruesome as I imagined. Prior to the fight people were able to pet Tosa pups and the trainer showed everyone how the rumpled skin of the dog made its skin naturally stretchy so many of the body bites were not painful for the dogs. That could not be said for the ears, which the dogs were quick to target. The fight didn't last long, but it was definitely interesting. The dogs fight with a lot of fervor and some fights must certainly be harder to watch than others. The fights are certainly not for everyone, but if you have any interest, this is the only place in Japan to see it.

    There are a few fights per day, so be sure to check the times before coming if you plan to see a fight. Fights cost 1500 yen. If you just want to see the museum (and perhaps pet some pups), you can do that for 500 yen.

    Tosa Dog Fighting Yokozuna Tosa Dog Pups Tosa Dog Fighting
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    Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum

    by Rabbityama Written Sep 18, 2013

    The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum is one of the sites in Katsurahama. It's a two-story museum dedicated to Sakamoto Ryoma. Most of the museum features information about Ryoma with replicas of famous things associated with him, such as his Smith and Wesson gun. As a "memorial museum" its purpose is mainly to educate visitors about Ryoma however, the museum does have a few authentic letters written by Ryoma.

    One highlight of the museum is the great view on the second floor terrace. You can see the coast and a lighthouse not visible from Katsurahama Beach.

    Outside of the museum is a statue of Ryoma with his had out. It's a popular photo op to shake hands with it. It's supposed to be life-size.

    Entrance if 400 yen.

    Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum View from Memorial Museum
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    Ryomaden

    by Rabbityama Written Jun 13, 2013

    Ryomaden is the name of a popular TV drama about Sakamoto Ryoma, the Kochi-born samurai reformer. The Ryomaden in Kochi contains the sets and props used as Ryoma's house in the drama, including clothing and the famous pistol. Those who are familiar with the series will probably find it fun and interesting to walk through. Those who have not seen the drama may still be interested for the sake of the 'time slip' feeling of walking through buildings reminiscent of old Japan. It may also be of interest to those who find themselves with time to spare around the station, because the Ryomaden is located just outside Kochi Station on the right on the opposite side of the Tourist Information Center building.

    Entrance is 500 yen.

    Ryomaden Drama Set Ryomaden Drama Set
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    Sakamoto Ryoma Walk

    by Rabbityama Written May 28, 2013

    In the area between Kamimachi-Itchome Tram Stop and the Kagami River (Kagamigawa) are many sites related to native samurai, Sakamoto Ryoma.

    The first site, located right on the main road is a monument marking the site of Ryoma's actual birthplace. In front of the monument is a bench featuring Ryoma and guns like those used by him and others in his day.

    The Ryoma Birthplace Memorial Museum is another highlight of the area. It features exhibits that educate visitors about life in Ryoma's days as well as Ryoma himself. There are English audio guides, so it's a great stop for those who want to learn but don't know Japanese.

    By the river, the scenic Hineno Path was frequented by Ryoma for his kendo training when he was a teenager.

    Sakamoto Ryoma is said to have played around the small Akiba Shrine when he was a child.

    In the lobby of Hotel Nansui there is a reproduction of one of Ryoma's garbs made in his exact size. Anyone may enter to look at it.

    Nishimura is a film development store but in addition they also sell "Ikemen Ryoma" goods ("Ikemen" are cool and attractive men). They are anime depictions of Sakamoto Ryoma and other men related to him. They've become very famous recently and you can buy them here or at select souvenir shops in the city.

    The Sakamoto Ryoma Post Office is the final unique Ryoma site in this area. There is a statue of Ryoma outside. Inside, there are special stamps that you can put on postcards (or anything else) that signify you are sending from this special post office. It's especially nice to buy the Gotochi Postcard at the counter featuring Ryoma's face and then stamp the back with one of the post office's special stamps.

    All of these sites are located in the same relative area between the tram stop and the river, so it's nice for people who enjoy historic walks and especially those interested in Sakamoto Ryoma.

    Sakamoto Ryoma Bench Sakamoto Ryoma's Birthplace Hineno Path Akiba Shrine Sakamoto Ryoma Post Office
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    Katsurahama

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 28, 2011

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    Katsurahama is a coastal beach area, but swimming is not the reason people visit. Actually, swimming is prohibited, because the currents are too strong. Instead, people come for the scenic view of the water and coast. It's well-known for its beauty and even though Japan has plenty of coastlines, many people don't actually go to appreciate them, so it's something different from the usual attractions.

    Along with the beach, there is a monument of Ryoma Sakamoto, a Kochi native who helped bring and end to feudalism in Japan and usher in the Meiji Period. There is also a museum dedicated to him here. A small marine aquarium can also be found here. They do some water shows.

    Another popular and famous thing in Katsurahama are the dog fights. They are held daily at certain times. When I went the dog fights were scheduled too late for me to stay, so I did not get to see them. They are definitely not for everyone though.

    There is no entrance fee to Katsurahama however, the museum, aquarium, and dog fights each have their own fees.

    Katsurahama Beach Rain at Katsurahama Sakamoto Ryoma Statue at Katsurahama
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    Kochi Castle

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 27, 2011

    Kochi Castle as you see it today dates back to 1748, making it one of the few original castles in Japan. It is particularly great because all of the structures are original and intact, which is not the case for most of the other original castles. Kochi Castle belonged to the feudal lords of the Tosa Kingdom, the former name Kochi Prefecture, and the lord actually lived in this castle which is quite unusual.

    Although the main keep (donjon) may look small, don't be deceived. Upon entry, you will find that the castle is actually 5 stories high! Inside there are exhibits and replicas of the castle and surrounding area as it was in the feudal times. As you look at the inside of the castle and ascend the stairs, do take the time to look out the windows, because the view of the city amidst the surrounding mountains is beautiful!

    Outside the castle, the castle walls and main gate are all intact and well-preserved. You can roam around the castle grounds for free. Entrance to Kochi Castle is only 400 yen.

    Kochi Castle Kochi Castle Donjon View from Kochi Castle Kochi Castle Gate Misty Mountains from Kochi Castle
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    Harimayabashi Bridge

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 27, 2011

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    Harimayabashi Bridge is esentially just a small red bridge but the story associated with it is what makes it a nice attraction. It is said that long ago a monk from Godaisan fell in love with a woman, which was strictly forbidden for holy men. They kept their relationship a secret until one day someone saw the monk buying a hairpin by Harimayabashi Bridge. Because a monk would have no reason to purchase such a thing, everyone then knew he had relations with a woman. In order to avoid punishment the two lovers fled the city together.

    The Yosakoi Bushi (song of Kochi's famous Yosakoi festival) begins with a reference to this story, mentioned seeing a monk buying a hairpin.

    The bridge is free to see and the park around the bridge is actually quite pretty.

    Harimayabashi Bridge Park Around Harimayabashi Bridge Park Around Harimayabashi Bridge
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