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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.
Cape Muroto has been designated as a national scenic spot and as the Muroto-Anan Kaigan Quasi-National Park. The coast is clustered with strange rocks and has been known as a spot of difficult passage since ancient times. It features a lush growth of beach plants and a subtropical forest. In September of 2011 it was recognized as a Global Geopark.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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