The fastest way to get to Kochi from Okayama is to take the Nanpu Limited Express train, which departs every hour. It costs ¥5990 (no cost with the Japan Rail Pass) and takes 2 1/2 hours.
You can easily visit Kochi by car.
- Enterprises Car Rental
The My-Yu Bus (MY遊バス) service runs from the north side of JR Kochi Station. Day passes are ¥1000. The bus stops at 3 locations on Mt. Godaisan (Chikurinji, Makino Botanical Garden, and the Godaisan Lookout Point) and continues on to Katsurahama.
Kochi has trams running south from Kochi Station and east-west along Route 32. Within the downtown area, it costs ¥190 per trip.
The streets are wide and traffic fairly light compared to most Japanese cities. Watch out for cyclists riding the wrong way into traffic.
- Kochi Castle (高知城), 2-1-1 Marunouchi (Tram to Kochi-jo Mae), ☎ +81 888-24-5701. 9AM-5PM. Kochi Castle is one of the few original white castles in Japan. Access to the castle grounds is free, and the entrance fee to enter the castle is well worthwhile. The views from the castle are spectacular. ¥400.
- Kochi Prefectural Museum of Art (高知県立美術館), 353-2 Takasu (Tram to Kenritsu Bijutsukandori), ☎ +81 888-66-8000. 9AM-5PM. Art by Japanese and foreign artists, including Marc Chagall. Noh plays are held in the museum hall. ¥:350 adults, ¥250 children.
- Tosa Shrine (土佐神社). The shrine's origins are unknown but it was mentioned in both the Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, the first written records of Japanese history. Free.
- Sakamoto Ryoma's Hometown Museum, ☎ +81 88-820-1115. 8AM-7PM (museum shop closes at 6:30). The 2-floor museum features information and artifacts from Sakamoto Ryoma, his family, and Kochi city during the days when he lived here. ¥300.
- Harimayabashi Bridge (はりまや橋). A bridge made famous by a story that took place here; a young monk had a secret affair with a woman but one day he was seen by the bridge buying a hairpin which was a telltale sign that he had a lover. Because monks were not allowed to be romantically involved with anyone, he and the woman fled together before he could be punished. The bridge is very small so it's probably only worth visiting if the story interests you. Free.
- Chikyū 33 Banchi (地球33番地). This monument was constructed at 133*33'33"East Longituge, 33*33'33" North Latitude, marking the unique spot where 33 appears consecutively in all six markers. Its name roughly means "Earth house number 33". There are only 9 other places in the world where such a thing occurs and this is the only one that can be easily reached by public transport. Free.
- Kochi People's and Liberty Museum (自由民権記念館). A museum with information about liberty and freedoms in the Tosa Kingdom and the world. ¥320.
- Hamaguchi Osachi House (浜口雄幸生家記念館), ☎ +81 88-823-9457. The house of Japan's 27th Prime Minister, Hamaguchi Osachi, who served from 1929 to 1931.
- Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (高知県立坂本龍馬記念館), 830 Urado-Shiroyama. Located in Katsurahama, this museum has exhibits related to Sakamoto Ryoma. Many written documents, including a letter written by him just two days prior to his assassination. There are also special exhibitions. ¥500.
Godaisan is a mountain in Kochi city between the downtown area and Katsurahama. It is the holy mountain where Chikurin-ji Temple was built and is also now home to one of Japan's best botanical gardens. The look-out area at the top provides scenic views over the surrounding area.
- Chikurin-ji (竹林寺), 3577 Godaisan, ☎ +81 88-882-3085. 8:30AM-5PM. The 31st temple along the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The temple features a quiet garden, treasure house, and iconic pagoda. ¥400.
- Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden (高知県立牧野植物園), ☎ +81 888-82-2601. 9AM-5PM. Celebrating the life and career of Dr. Makino Tomitarou, this botanical garden covers six acres with more than 1,500 plants. ¥500 adults, students free.
- Yosakoi Matsuri (よさこい祭り), ☎ +81 88-823-9457. Held annually from Aug. 9-12. Along with the Awa Odori in Tokushima, the Yosakoi Matsuri is Shikoku's other famous festival and was actually formed out of the Awa Odori as a more modern version in 1954. The Yosakoi festival is highly energetic and some of the dance teams have naruko (click-clacks) which is part of the Yosakoi tradition.
- Sunday Market (Nichi O Ichi). Every sunday rain or shine, Kochi's skilled farmers and fisherman flock to the capital to present their goods. At the market you will find friendly vendors offering everything from antiques to zucchini.
Katsurahama (桂浜) is Kochi's famous coastal beach. For many, the view alone is reason enough to visit but the area has more to offer. The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum (see "See" section above) is here as well as a few other interesting things.
- Tosa Dog-Fighting Center (土佐闘犬センター). Tosa dogs are large dogs that are bred in Kochi for the purpose of dog-fighting and ownership of the dogs is actually banned in many countries. The Dog-Fighting Center is where you can come to see the dog fights. ¥1500.
- Katsurahama Aquarium (桂浜水族館, katsurahama suizokukan), ☎ +81 88-841-2437. A small aquarium with a variety of fish, water birds, seals, and dolphins. They also host dolphin and seal shows, along with other animals. ¥1100.
- Katsuo Bushi - Bonito flakes. This is a staple of the Japanese diet and is best in Kochi. It is used as a topping for many dishes and will surely be appreciated by a Japanese friend.
- Katsuo no tataki - This is Kochi's specialty dish and does not taste as good anywhere else! Katsuo is a type of tuna fish which in English is called Bonito. Tataki is the style in which it is prepared. The tataki style means that the fish is held over a fire and cooked only on the outside layer (about 3mm to 1cm deep), leaving the inside of the fish red and raw. After the firing it is cut into thick juicy slices that look like oversized sashimi, and served with sliced garlic and onions, shiso (a Japanese leaf with a distinct and delicious taste), some other garnish, a special sauce that may vary, and of course some fresh wasabi. Once it is at your table clutch a slice with your chop sticks along with a generous portion of the garlic, onions, wasabi etc. Take it all in one bite. Katsuo is best during the Summer and early Fall when the fish arrive off the coast of Kochi after fattening up in the tropics during the winter. Katsuo no tataki can be found in many, many restaurants throughout Kochi Prefecture, but for the cream of the crop go to Kuroson in Kochi City.
- Kuroson is a small sushi restaurant near Ohashi Dori, nestled in a narrow alley just behind the Mos Burger on the East West Densha Dori. On most nights you will need a reservation booked well in advance, but if you are on your own or as a couple, you might get lucky and find a spot on a week day. Ask for Shiyo Tataki, a specialty of Kuroson. It a variation of katsuo no tataki prepared in salt, giving it an even more unforgettable taste. For the bolder among you, ask for chichiko (Katsuo hearts) as an appetizer.
- Suigei-tei (酔鯨亭). 11:30AM-2PM, 5PM-10PM, Closed Sun. This restaurant specializes in all Kochi dishes. They serve the famous katsuo no tataki and other katsuo dishes, as well as foods from other regions of the prefecture, but what this restaurant is really known for, are its whale (kujira) dishes. They offer whale steaks (¥1575), whale bacon (¥1050), and kujira no tataki (¥1365) to name a few.
- Ipponzuri (一本釣り). A more affordable way to sample some of Kochi's local dishes. Various katsuo and whale dishes for just ¥1000.
- Issyun (一旬), ☎ +81 88-824-2030. 11:30AM-1PM (12AM on weekends). A classy restaurant with excellent katsuo no tataki.
- La Vita (ラ・ヴィータレストラン). An Italian restaurant with a variety of pastas and pizzas. Main dishes ¥1000-¥1500.
Denizens of Kochi drink a lot; see the prefecture article for the full scoop.
Gokkun-Umajimura is a famous non-alcoholic drink. It is made of yuzu which is a kind of citrus fruit and is well-known product in Umajimura, Kochi. It tastes sweet-and-sour so that is easy to drink for everyone, from little children to old people. It is sold in every place in Kochi for example Super markets, stations and airport. It's fantastic when mixed with shochu on the rocks.
- Hirome Market. Halfway down the arcade is Hirome Market, an indoor collection of food stalls selling everything from Indian curry to fresh fish to big pitchers of beer. Patrons sit on long communal wooden tables, so it's a great place to converse with the locals.
- Kochi Horumon. 6PM-3AM. Serves all the typical beers, chuhai, etc. The ramen dishes are also quite popular.
- K's Bar, Kuzume Biru 2F, ☎ +81 88-872-8070. 8:07PM-12AM. Serving a nice variety of whiskey, cocktails, brandy, wine, and beers.
- Comfort Inn Hotel Kochiekimae (コンフォートホテル高知駅前). Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Singles from ¥6600.
- Green Hotel Harimayabashi (高知グリーンホテル はりまや橋), ☎ +81 88-822-1800. Singles from ¥4400.
- Hotel Nansui (ホテル南水), ☎ +81 88-873-2181. Located near many of the Sakamoto Ryoma sites, the hotel itself contains a life-size replica of one of Sakamoto Ryoma's robes in the lobby. Rooms from ¥6500.
- Hotel Sun Atlas (ホテル・サン・アトラス). Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Singles from ¥3900.
- Kochi Youth Hostel, 4-5 Fukui-higashi-machi, ☎ +81 88-823-0858, fax: +81 88-823-0859. An excellent place to stay, run by a former sake brewer who will, for ¥500, provide a sake tasting workshop. It's a 5 minute walk from JR Engyoujiguchi Station. ¥2835, meals ¥1050.
- Richmond Hotel Kochi, 9-4 Obiya-machi, ☎ +81 888-20-1122. A modern Western-style hotel, with clean rooms. Internet access is available at the desk or in the rooms (wired LAN). It's a 15 minute walk from JR Kochi Station. ¥10,000.
- Sansuien (三翠園), ☎ +81 88-822-0131. A nice hotel complete with its own onsen. The onsen costs ¥900 to use. Those who are not staying at the hotel may still come to enjoy the onsen. Just outside the hotel is the historic Yamauchi Residence, which is free. Rooms from ¥6000.
- Welcome Hotel Kochi (ウェルカムホテル高知), ☎ +81 88-823-3555. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Singles from ¥4980.
- Nankoku - home of the prefecture's airport and the famous long-tailed roosters
- Kami - location of the famous Ryugado Cave
- Aki - Birthplace of Mitsubishi founder Iwasaki Yattarō
- Hidaka - Site of the historic Omura Shrine, Saruda Cave, and ruins of Kashiwai Castle
- Sakawa - Home to one of Japan's oldest archaeological excavation sites, the Sakawa Basin
- Shimanto - home to Japan's last undammed river, the Shimanto River
- Miyoshi - Just north in Tokushima Prefecture, home to Oboke and Koboke and the Iya Valley