Kochi Prefecture in the southern part of the island is the largest of the 4 prefectures which make up Shikoku. There is a strong image of the prefecture of being a land by the sea but it is actually a lush natural area of which 84% is forest. Muroto Global Geopark which encompasses the entire 248km2 area of Muroto City including Cape Muroto was established in 2011 as the first world Geopark on Shikoku. Kochi-born samurai Ryoma Sakamoto is still celebrated as a patriot for his activities at the end of the Tokugawa Era, and so there are still many sites which are associated with him.
Kochi Castle which has still retained its castle tower is a valuable structure in which many of its buildings have survived since their construction in the Edo Era. Sites such as beautiful Katsurahama with its statue of Ryoma Sakamoto and the Ryoma Sakamoto Memorial Museum are popular with history buffs. In Muroto Global Geopark, there are 22 places known as Geosites including a 2.6km walking course and the famous Mikurodo Caves where the Buddhist monk Kukai achieved his enlightenment. Along the Shimanto River which is Shikoku’s longest river with a total length of 196km, there are 40 chinkabashi (sinking bridges) which are low water crossings without any railings; the bridges were designed to go underwater during times of high water and are part of the landscape which is characteristic of the Shimanto.
Minced bonito is a Kochi specialty. The regional cuisine known as Sawachi ryori is banquet fare which involves sashimi, sushi, fried foods, etc. placed on a huge plate for people to enjoy the fresh ingredients and superb appearance. Kochi also has many kinds of sake and shochu so you will want to try that minced bonito and some sake at the local izakaya. Also, there is plenty of other local cuisine including nabeyaki ramen, kinme don and chirimen don.
It’s common to take a plane from Tokyo to Kochi, and from Haneda Airport it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Kochi Ryoma Airport. There are buses and taxis from the airport but to tour around the tourist areas, a rental car is convenient.
Kochi City has the greatest number of hotels as a center for tourism in the prefecture, but there are also accommodations in the onsen areas of Shimanto and Ashizuri.