Kōchi City is the capital of Kōchi Prefecture, and also the centre of the old feudal domain of Tosa. The city is located roughly in the centre of the prefecture on the Pacific coast, at the confluence of several rivers. Consequently, the city is dominated by waterways. With its historic tram system, the oldest in Japan, Kōchi has a nostalgic, old-time feel. As the prefecture with the largest consumption of alcohol, Kōchi is a lively city for food and drink.
In the middle of the city is Kōchi Castle. Located on a commanding hill, the castle and its complex arrangement of defensive walls is strikingly beautiful. It’s one of the most complete castles in Japan. The defences include some unique features – the base of the keep has iron spikes to deter ninja. The castle is lit up at night, and it’s a good place for a stroll in the evening.
A couple of blocks from Kōchi Castle is Hirome Ichiba, perhaps Kōchi’s best-known places to eat. It’s a large hall filled with stalls selling food and drink, with communal seating areas. You purchase what you want from the stalls and take it to your table to eat. Here you can find all of Kōchi’s favourites like katsuo tataki, nori tempura, whale, chicken, takoyaki, and all sorts of vegetables, not to mention the citrus fruit of Shikoku. You can watch katsuo tataki being prepared, with the large fish being seared over burning straw. There are many other excellent places to eat all over Kōchi city.
The main road to the castle, Otesuji, has been the site of a Sunday market since 1690, featuring fresh local produce, cooked foods, local crafts, antiques, and souvenirs. If you start at the eastern side of the market, you’ll end up in front of Kōchi Castle, 1.3 kilometers from your starting point. The market is a nice place to experience local Kochi life, and if you’re self-catering, an ideal place to buy some authentic ingredients. There are also markets in other parts of the city on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Kōchi is one of the few places left in Japan with a thriving geisha culture. These elegant and entertaining ladies are based at the Hamacho establishment, a building in central Kōchi city with banqueting rooms and a stage where the geisha perform their traditional dances and entertain customers. The food is excellent, and the simple and sociable entertainments are unforgettable.
In the outskirts of the city is Katsurahama Beach, a crescent-shaped sweep of gravelly sand with a picturesque rocky promontory at one end, topped with a shrine and gnarled pine trees. Overlooking the beach stands a large statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, gazing out over the broad Pacific and dreaming about freedom.
On the other side of Kōchi port is Mt. Godai. It’s home to Chikurin-ji temple, the Makino Botanical Gardens, and the Panorama restaurant and observation deck that offers a stunning view over the city and its complex inlets. Chikurin-ji is one of the most beautiful temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
In August, Kōchi goes crazy with the Yosakoi Festival, an Asian-flavoured contemporary dance extravaganza.
Name in Japanese: 高知市
Address: 1-2 Chome Sakaedacho, Kōchi, Kōchi Prefecture 780-0061