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A Unique Topography and Character Surrounded by Mountains and the Sea in Every Direction.
Kochi Prefecture has the largest surface area of the Shikoku prefectures and is quite long from east to west. When you enter into Kochi Prefecture from Tokushima Prefecture the road where you can see the Pacific Ocean seems to continue and then all at once the view expands. Although it’s warm and has a lot of rainfall, the prefecture also has many hours of sunshine and is often sunny, but when it does rain it pours. There is a great diversity in the types of landscape for each area and the scenery is completely different for Cape Ashizuri and Cape Muroto, which stick out into the same Pacific Ocean. And then the flow of time seems to relax when one enters the Shimanto River basin. But more than anything one notices the smiling faces of sociable people. One is calmed by the nature of the Tosa people who greet you with a smile. Enjoy a relaxed ride while having your fill of food from the rivers and mountains and hearty seafood raised in the Pacific Ocean.
This is called Meoto Iwa (Husband and Wife Rocks) because they are bound by a Shimenawa, a sacred rope, and are united like a married couple.
There is currently a risk of falling rocks so access to and approaching the rock are prohibited so please enjoy this from the road at a safe distance.
Muroto Schoolhouse Aquarium
This aquarium is house in a renovated elementary school. In addition to its ordinary exhibits, there are many different exhibits displayed in typical school fashion such as tanks in the vaulting horses and hand washing sinks and skeleton specimens in the science room. There are textbooks and musical instruments and visitors will feel nostalgic. Turtles and sharks swim in the outdoor pool.
Designated as a national scenic spot and as Muroto-Anan Kaigan Quasi-National Park. The coast, which is a jumble of unusually shaped rocks, has long been known as a danger spot of the sea and wild waves can be seen crashing on to the rocks. Its characteristic scenery includes subtropical forests and beach plants. In September 2011, it was recognized as a Global Geopark. There is a lighthouse on the hill just behind and visitors can climb the Muroto Skyline route. It features a steep slope with sharp bends. It is definitely recommended for those who want to go for an exhilarating drive and to see the Muroto scenery.
Eboshi Rock (Cape Muroto)
The rock for Cape Muroto was formed under the ocean as magma in the earth slowly cooled and hardened. The Eboshi Rock rose up without being eroded by the waves and then received its name for looking like the eboshi hat of court nobles. Fossils of the blue corral worm, a relative of the ragworm, are stuck to the rocks in this area and it’s possible to learn the ocean water levels in 100 and 1,000 year units from these fossils.
Muroto Dolphin Center
Visitors can interact with friendly dolphins. In addition, anyone from children to adults can go into the sea and swim with them. Visitors can also experience being a trainer and can feed and play with the dolphins by giving them signs. There is no doubt that these cute, mischievous dolphins will cheer up you.
Monet’s Garden Marmottan in Kitagawa Village
Modelled after the Giverny garden in France that Claude Monet, painter of light, so loved. There are three areas: the flower garden, the water garden and the light garden and visitors can enjoy scenery such as that in Monet’s paintings. The blue water lilies that Monet dreamed of flower beautifully each year.
Once you go through the cave entrance, there is a vast colony of ferns. The air is cool and you can feel the humidity on your skin. The fantastical atmosphere created by nature is impressive.
Tosa Kuroshio Railway
If you go a little ways past Kochi City from the Akano Break Area in Aki City, Kochi Prefecture, you’ll come to a point where the Tosa Kuroshio Railway and the bike path meet. If you have time, it’s fun to rest a bit and wait for the train.
Teiko Moveable Bridge
This is a moveable bascule bridge used so that it does not hamper the movement of ships and is 32m in length. It is located in the port near the "Roadside Station Yasu", a stamp point. There is an observation point where you can see the impressive sight of the bridge as it is raised.
Godaisan Park offers a panoramic view of Kochi’s urban area and Urado Bay. It features a protruding observation point that faces towards the town. Both locals and tourists visit and enjoy the time they spend there in their own way. There are camellias, cherry blossom, azaleas and Japanese maples so you can enjoy beautiful nature throughout the year.
This bridge features in the Yosakoi dance verse of a Koichi Prefecture folk song, ‘I saw a monk buying an ornamental hairpin on Tosa’s Kochi Harimaya Bridge.’ The bridge’s name comes from the fact that Harimaya and Hitsuya, who are merchants, built the bridge to come and go.
Hirome market where Kochi’s food gathers. In the past, this place was the residence of the Tosa clan’s Fukao Hirome Shigeaki and was called Hirome Yashiki to demonstrate his connection with it; this is where the name of the market comes from. It houses more than 60 shops and restaurants and visitors can eat what they buy in the market. Many people from both in and outside the prefecture visit this market so it is always very lively.
Kochi Castle is in the center of Kochi City. It is called the most famous castle on the Nankaido route and is one of the 12 original keeps that still exist in Japan. It has overcome many dangers including fires and natural disasters, the Ordinance for Disposal of Castles and war, and still stands today. The keep, the main building and the Otemon Gate are designated as important cultural properties.
Katsurahama is one of the most representative scenic spots of Kochi Prefecture. As it says in a line of the Yosakoi dance verse of a Koichi Prefecture folk song, ‘Katsurahama is famous for the moon-viewing spot’. Katsurahama Park has a large statue of Ryoma Sakamoto looking out to the Pacific Ocean. How about looking out to the sea with him and letting your thoughts go beyond the far-off horizon?
Usa Shiokaze Park - Susaki City
The Kuroshio Line runs along the Tosa basin towards Susaki and makes for a pleasant ride while enjoying the ocean breeze on curves that go on and on. Midway along is the Usa Shiokaze Park which is ideal for a break spot and where you can see enormous whales, both parents and their children. The area is famous as an embarkment point for whale watching. When you enter Susaki City form here, the scenery will change to a complex series of coves, a very different view from the previous scenery along the ride. Susaki has arranged an approximately 16 km round trip bike road that goes from the Kawauso Village roadside stop to the Taru waterfalls. You’ll definitely want to try the nabe yaki ramen simmered in chicken bone soy sauce stock, a Susaki delicacy.
Shimanto River Basin
The Shimanto River Basin is called “the clearest river in Japan” and is 196 kilometers in length. If you climb from the mouth of the river upstream, you’ll be fascinated by the gradually changing shape of the Shimanto River as it meanders along. Parts of National Routes 381 and 441 have blue lines on them so the cars are considerate of cyclists. Since blue lines are being introduced in Kochi Prefecture, with a focus on the western part of the prefecture, it will only get easier to ride in the future.
Shimanto Towa Roadside Station
The Shimanto River is also appealing for the full suite of roadside stations along its length. Enjoy the local fruits of the forest and river at the Shimanto Towa roadside station. The Towa basket meal, where a variety of foods are placed inside a basket in small portions, is popular with women. The shops have a wide assortment of original souvenirs made with materials from the Shimanto River basin and it’s hard to choose what to buy. You can look out over the beautiful Shimanto River and the surrounding nature from the seats on the terrace.
Low Water Crossing
A low water crossing is a bridge with no guardrails that is designed to be submerged under the river when the water rises. It makes for very Shimanto-esque scenery. We descended to the river bed and crossed the Nagaoi low water crossing. The bridge is 120 meters in length and is only wide enough to fit one normal sized car at a time, but on a bike you can cross easily without worrying about the width of the road. The refreshing feeling of riding while experiencing nature is one of the true pleasures of biking, but it’s also nice to slow down and cross slowly while enjoying the scenery at your feet.
Sprint along the Ashizuri Skyline up to Cape Ashizuri. The gentle hill road continues, but, if you lower your gear, it’s not too difficult even for women riders. Once you see the sign for Cape Ashizuri you’ve arrived. At the entrance to the overlook you’ll see a copper statue of John Manjiro. The scenery seen from the cape, which sticks out into the Pacific Ocean, stretches out in a field of vision more than 270 degrees wide and will make you remember the roundness of the world. The scenery of the waves breaking on the cliffs and falling down in white foam is rough and dynamic. The contrast between the white of the Cape Ashizuri lighthouse and the deep blue of the ocean is like looking at a painting.
If you time your ride in accordance with the sunrise, you’ll see an amazing scene at the overlook. The wind may be cold at dawn at the overlook depending on the season, but the road to the overlook is a light climb so you’ll be warmed up. If the weather is nice, the eastern sky will be colored a light pink, so enjoy a superb view that will leave you speechless as the round, sparkling sun climbs upwards before your eyes.
Cape Ashizuri - Uwa Island
Going north along National Route 321 from Cape Ashizuri towards Uwa Island, Ehime Prefecture, one can enjoy the scenery of the many bays and coves. Right when we wanted to take a break we arrived at the roadside station. It’s nice to taste the delicious local food as you rest. Starting from Sukumo City the sea changes in appearance to a color different from the Pacific Ocean. Expressed in words, it’s something like a transparent soda blue. The breaking waves also become a little calm and you feel that you are approaching the Seto Inland Sea.
John Mung Museum
John Mung came from current day Tosashimizu City. This museum is full of the history of John Mung who led a turbulent life. There are many enjoyable exhibits such as models of ships, clothes that he wore, trompe l’oeil and projections. After having a look around, have a go at the John Mung Test!
Ashizuri Underwater Aquarium
The southwest of Kochi Prefecture is full of beautiful nature both on land and in the sea. One particular place to visit is the aquarium’s undersea observation point. Visitors can see the interwoven nature of the sea including reef-building coral and fish swimming. In addition, the nearby Ashizuri Aquarium will re-open as SATOUMI after renovation in July 2020.
Otsuki Roadside Station Along the Railway
When you drop by the Otsuki roadside station along the railway, you’ll find souvenirs of refreshing flavors that use citrus fruits, such as pomelo juice and pomelo jelly. Enjoy tasting the great variety of citrus fruits that Shikoku has to offer.
Seasonal citrus fruit on sale