Kochi Travel Guide: Top 40 Things to Do in Kochi, Japan

Welcome to Kochi, a captivating city located on the southwestern coast of Japan’s Shikoku Island. Known for its lush green landscapes, beautiful coastline, and rich cultural heritage, Kochi offers a unique and authentic travel experience.

As you step into Kochi, you’ll be greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The city blends tradition and modernity seamlessly, providing a perfect balance for travelers seeking a glimpse into both old and new Japan.

Kochi boasts a rich history that can be traced back to feudal times. The city’s most iconic landmark is Kochi Castle, an impressive structure that stands as a symbol of the region’s samurai heritage. Explore the castle’s well-preserved interiors, climb its towers for panoramic views, and learn about the city’s history at the attached museum.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by strolling through the bustling streets of Hirome Ichiba Market, a lively food market where you can savor regional delicacies, interact with locals, and discover unique souvenirs. Don’t miss the chance to try Katsuo no Tataki, a local specialty of seared bonito fish, which showcases Kochi’s seafood culture.

Nature enthusiasts will be delighted by Kochi’s abundant natural beauty. The city is home to the Shimanto River, one of Japan’s last remaining clear-running rivers, where you can enjoy canoeing, fishing, and scenic boat rides. Take a hike through the stunning Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden, filled with a variety of plants and flowers, or visit the iconic Chikurin-ji Temple, nestled amidst lush greenery and offering breathtaking views.

For those seeking relaxation, Kochi is also renowned for its hot springs, or “onsen.” Indulge in the therapeutic waters of Kuroshio Onsen or Shimanto Onsen, and let your worries melt away.

Throughout the year, Kochi hosts vibrant festivals that showcase the city’s cultural traditions and provide a lively atmosphere. The Yosakoi Festival, held in August, is a must-see event where teams of dancers in colorful costumes perform energetic routines to traditional and modern music.

With its scenic landscapes, cultural treasures, and warm hospitality, Kochi invites you to embark on an unforgettable journey. Let this travel guide be your companion as you explore the hidden gems and immerse yourself in the unique charm of this captivating city.

Kochi Travel Guide (Japan): Things to do in Kochi, Japan

Kochi City Guide: A Brief History Of Kochi, Japan

Kochi, located on the southwestern coast of Shikoku Island in Japan, has a rich and vibrant history that stretches back centuries. Here is a brief overview of Kochi’s history for travelers:

  • Feudal Era: Kochi was once the center of power for the Yamauchi clan, a samurai family that ruled the region during the feudal era. The Yamauchi clan played a significant role in shaping Kochi’s history and culture. Kochi Castle, built in the early 17th century, became the seat of the Yamauchi clan and stands as a symbol of their power and influence.
  • Sakamoto Ryoma: Kochi is closely associated with the famous samurai and statesman, Sakamoto Ryoma. Born in Kochi in 1836, Ryoma played a pivotal role in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate and establish a modern, unified Japan. Today, visitors can explore the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum and learn about his life and legacy.
  • Trade and Commerce: Kochi has a long history of trade and commerce due to its strategic location along the coast. During the Edo period, the city developed as a center for the trading of goods such as rice, timber, and bonito fish. The Hirome Ichiba Market, which dates back to the Edo period, continues to be a vibrant hub of local commerce and a popular destination for visitors.
  • Cultural Heritage: Kochi is renowned for preserving traditional aspects of Japanese culture. The city is home to many traditional performing arts, including the Tosa Koten Nagashi, a traditional form of music, and the Tosa Washi, a handmade paper craft that has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Kochi’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage is evident in its festivals, arts, and crafts.
  • Natural Beauty: Kochi’s natural beauty has played a significant role in its history and development. The Shimanto River, known as Japan’s last pristine river, has shaped the region’s agriculture and transportation. The surrounding mountains and lush landscapes have provided a source of inspiration for artists and poets throughout the ages.

Kochi’s history is intertwined with the stories of samurai, trade, cultural preservation, and natural wonders. Exploring the city allows travelers to delve into its fascinating past and gain a deeper understanding of its rich heritage.

Kochi Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan

Best known for being home to one of the twelve surviving original castles of Japan, Kochi has more to offer than this famed sight.

From a temple that’s a subject of pilgrimages to the story of a samurai who ultimately gave his life to pull Japan into the modern era, it is a place worth visiting on Shikoku.

Come check out our Kochi practical travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Kochi, Japan.

Start your time in Kochi by checking out Kochi Castle. This fortification is one of the twelve in Japan fortunate enough to have survived centuries of wars, fires, and political turmoil straight through to the present day.

Once home to the lords of Yamaguchi, who ruled much of Western Japan during the Edo Period, it today houses artifacts that were once staples of everyday life during that time. Note, however, that the captions here are all in Japanese – prepare by ensuring you have a Japanese to English translation app installed in your phone, or bring a local friend along who can translate.

Below leaving, don’t forget to head to the top floor. From here, sweeping panoramic views of the city of Kochi can be enjoyed – don’t forget your camera.

The second most popular attraction in Kochi is dedicated to a samurai who actively worked to undermine the lords who occupied Kochi Castle in the 19th century. Within the halls of Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, you’ll learn about the life of a man of the same name, who was one of a number of figures who worked to overturn shogunates in a bid to return power to the Emperor.

He and his compatriots were successful – a wave of unrest led to the deposing of shogunates across Japan, ushering in the Meiji Restoration. His ‘treachery’ wasn’t forgotten, though – at the age of 31, he was assassinated as he slept in his room in Kyoto.

Within the halls of this museum, you’ll get to see scrolls and the changing screen that was in his room when he was killed – blood stains and all. There are also displays which cover life during the late Edo Period, as well as art themed on the life and times of Sakamoto Ryoma.

Fans of religious architecture will want to include Chikurinji Temple on their itinerary while visiting Kochi. Situated on the slopes of Mount Godaisan to the east of the city, this scenic Buddhist hall of worship is a stop on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, numbered 31 out of the 88 on the list.

There’s more here than a nice view of the city and ocean below – the temple boasts a five-tiered pagoda, a traditional garden, and a treasure hall that hosts a collection of Buddha statues and scrolls containing his teachings.

Katsurahama Ryuogu Shrine is one of the most prominent Shinto shrines in the Kochi area. While it is situated on a bluff overlooking a spectacular beach and the Pacific Ocean, it is a rather typical Shinto holy place, except for the presence of a bronze statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, who we discussed earlier in this guide.

Its ordinary nature isn’t a drawback in this case, though, as it ensures a peaceful atmosphere, especially during the middle of the week. Combined with the surf, sand, and pine trees that surround you, it is a great place to visit to recharge your spirit if you are feeling rundown by your travels.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Kochi, Japan

Green thumbs will want to make room in their schedule for the Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden. Created to honour the lifetime achievements of Dr Tomitaro Makino, a botanist who was born and raised in Kochi, this attraction is broken up into several parts.

The garden itself boasts plants endemic to the island of Shikoku, as well as a greenhouse which shows off a number of tropical species. The museum goes into detail about Dr Tomitaro’s life and career, showing off his specimens and literature.

If you are an early riser and are visiting Kochi on the weekend, be sure to stop by the Kochi Sunday Market. Stretching from Kochi Castle down the street for more than a kilometre, you’ll have a bevy of local fruits, vegetables, food products, and crafts to choose from.

Looking for a moment of zen while in Kochi? Spend some time on Katsurahama Beach. While the surrounding scenery is gorgeous and its sands are a wonderful place to while away a sunny day, it is not a safe place to cool off. Thanks to strong currents, swimming is prohibited, so don’t go there hoping to splash your cares away on a humid summer day.

On days when the heavens open up, the shopping arcade of Obiyamachi Ichibangai is where you’ll want to be. With a shield above protecting shoppers from the rain, you’ll be free to bargain for souvenirs or enjoy authentic Japanese meals without fear of getting wet.

source: Wiki Peaks on YouTube

Top 40 Things To Do in Kochi, Japan For Visitors

Here is a list of the top 40 things to do in Kochi, Japan:

  1. Visit Kochi Castle: Explore the impressive Kochi Castle, one of Japan’s few remaining original castles. Admire the traditional architecture, climb the castle tower for panoramic views, and learn about the history of the samurai era.
  2. Stroll through Harimaya Bridge: Take a leisurely walk across the iconic Harimaya Bridge, known for its beautiful red color and historic significance. Enjoy scenic views of the Kagami River and capture memorable photos.
  3. Explore Hirome Market: Indulge in the vibrant atmosphere of Hirome Market, a lively food hall with a variety of stalls serving local delicacies. Sample fresh seafood, street food, and regional dishes while mingling with locals and fellow travelers.
  4. Discover Chikurin-ji Temple: Visit Chikurin-ji Temple, one of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage route. Explore the serene temple grounds, admire the beautiful pagoda, and take in the peaceful surroundings.
  5. Enjoy Kochi’s Beaches: Relax and soak up the sun at one of Kochi’s beautiful beaches. Katsurahama Beach, with its picturesque landscape and statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, is a popular choice.
  6. Take a Ryoma Walking Tour: Follow in the footsteps of Sakamoto Ryoma, a prominent figure in Japanese history, by joining a guided Ryoma Walking Tour. Visit significant sites associated with his life and learn about his contributions to Japan’s modernization.
  7. Visit the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum: Dive deeper into the life and legacy of Sakamoto Ryoma at the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum. Discover artifacts, documents, and exhibits that showcase his historical significance.
  8. Explore the Sunday Market: Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of the Sunday Market, held every Sunday morning in Kochi’s central streets. Browse through stalls selling fresh produce, local crafts, clothing, and more.
  9. Relax at Katsurahama Park: Spend time at Katsurahama Park, a scenic coastal park with lush greenery and a sandy beach. Take a leisurely walk, enjoy a picnic, or visit the nearby Katsurahama Aquarium.
  10. Discover Makino Botanical Garden: Explore the enchanting Makino Botanical Garden, known for its diverse plant species, beautiful landscapes, and peaceful ambiance. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and admire the seasonal blooms.
  11. Visit the Museum of Art, Kochi: Appreciate contemporary and traditional artwork at the Museum of Art, Kochi. The museum exhibits a wide range of Japanese and international art, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics.
  12. Explore the Tosa Dog Museum: Learn about the Tosa breed, a local Japanese dog, at the Tosa Dog Museum. Discover the history, characteristics, and importance of this beloved breed through interactive displays and exhibits.
  13. Take a River Cruise: Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Yoshino River, the second-longest river in Shikoku. Admire the picturesque landscapes, spot wildlife, and relax as you glide along the tranquil waters.
  14. Visit Godaisan Park: Ascend Godaisan (Mount Godai) and explore Godaisan Park, a serene hilltop park with stunning views of Kochi City. Visit the Kōchi City Museum of History and enjoy a peaceful nature walk.
  15. Try Katsuo no Tataki: Sample the local specialty, Katsuo no Tataki, a dish made from seared bonito fish. The fish is briefly cooked over an open flame, resulting in a smoky and flavorful delicacy.
  16. Explore the Kochi Prefectural Museum of Folklore: Gain insights into the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Kochi region at the Kochi Prefectural Museum of Folklore. Discover exhibits showcasing traditional crafts, clothing, agricultural tools, and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the rich heritage of the local communities.
  1. Take a Cycling Tour: Explore Kochi’s scenic landscapes and rural areas on a cycling tour. Pedal along coastal roads, through quaint villages, and enjoy the fresh air while discovering the region’s natural beauty.
  2. Attend the Yosakoi Festival: If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss the vibrant Yosakoi Festival. Experience the lively atmosphere as teams of dancers in colorful costumes perform energetic routines to traditional and modern music, showcasing the unique spirit of Kochi.
  3. Visit Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park: Embark on a day trip to Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, located in the southern part of Kochi. Discover dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and breathtaking coastal scenery. Visit the iconic Ashizuri Cape Lighthouse for panoramic views.
  4. Experience the Kuroshio Market: Indulge in a culinary adventure at the Kuroshio Market, a seafood market offering an array of fresh catches from the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy sushi, sashimi, and other seafood dishes while immersing yourself in the lively market atmosphere.
  5. Take a Traditional Paper Making Workshop: Learn the art of traditional paper making, known as Tosa Washi, at one of the local workshops in Kochi. Experience the process of creating handmade paper and even make your own unique creations.
  6. Explore Shimanto River: Venture to the Shimanto River, often referred to as the “last clear stream” in Japan. Enjoy activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or cruising along the serene river, surrounded by untouched natural landscapes.
  7. Visit the Sakamoto Ryoma Hometown Memorial Museum: Dive deeper into the life and times of Sakamoto Ryoma at the Sakamoto Ryoma Hometown Memorial Museum in his birthplace, the town of Kōchi. Discover personal belongings, historical documents, and interactive exhibits that shed light on his revolutionary ideas.
  8. Discover Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum: Visit the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum, an architectural marvel known for its innovative design and traditional construction techniques. Explore the exhibits that showcase the history and craftsmanship of wooden bridges in Japan.
  9. Take a Hot Spring Bath: Unwind and rejuvenate in one of Kochi’s hot spring resorts. Pamper yourself with a relaxing soak in the therapeutic mineral-rich waters, known for their healing properties and calming effects.
  10. Visit Otsuki Jinja Shrine: Explore the serene Otsuki Jinja Shrine, a Shinto shrine known for its beautiful architecture and tranquil atmosphere. Take a peaceful stroll through the shrine’s grounds and enjoy the serene surroundings.
  11. Try Kochi’s Local Sake: Savor the flavors of Kochi’s local sake, known for its distinct taste and high-quality. Visit a local brewery to learn about the brewing process and enjoy a sake tasting experience.
  12. Attend a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony: Immerse yourself in the elegance of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Experience the art of tea preparation, the serene ambiance, and the meticulous rituals involved in this centuries-old tradition.
  13. Visit the Makino Botanical Garden Conservatory: Step inside the Makino Botanical Garden Conservatory, a tropical paradise showcasing a wide variety of exotic plants and flowers. Wander through lush greenery, enjoy the fragrant aromas, and admire the vibrant colors.
  14. Explore Yusuhara Town: Take a trip to Yusuhara, a small picturesque town nestled in the mountains of Kochi. Wander through its charming streets lined with traditional wooden houses and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. Visit the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum, which showcases the town’s architectural heritage, and take in the panoramic views from the nearby observatory.
  15. Hike in the Shimanto River Valley: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the scenic trails of the Shimanto River Valley. Immerse yourself in nature as you trek through lush forests, cross wooden bridges, and discover hidden waterfalls along the way. Keep an eye out for wildlife and enjoy the peaceful serenity of this unspoiled natural landscape.
  16. Attend a Kochi Baseball Game: Experience the passion of Japanese baseball by attending a game at the Kochi Baseball Stadium. Join the enthusiastic crowd, cheer for the home team, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this beloved national sport.
  17. Discover the Sunday Market at Kochi City: Join locals and fellow travelers at the Sunday Market in Kochi City. Browse through a wide array of stalls selling fresh produce, local crafts, clothing, and household items. Sample street food delicacies and experience the vibrant energy of this bustling marketplace.
  18. Take a Cooking Class: Learn to prepare traditional Kochi dishes by taking a cooking class. Under the guidance of a local chef, you’ll learn about the region’s culinary traditions and techniques, and have the opportunity to create and savor delicious dishes using fresh local ingredients.
  19. Explore the Tosa Terrace: Visit the Tosa Terrace, a beautifully designed shopping and entertainment complex. Discover a variety of shops, boutiques, and restaurants offering a blend of local and international products. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the complex and soak up its modern ambiance.
  20. Visit the Ino Paper Museum: Learn about the art of Washi papermaking at the Ino Paper Museum. Discover the intricate process of handmade paper production, explore the museum’s exhibits, and even try your hand at creating your own Washi paper.
  21. Participate in a Traditional Bon Dance: If you visit Kochi during the Bon Festival season, join in the celebrations and participate in a traditional Bon dance. Experience the lively atmosphere, learn the dance steps, and enjoy the festive music and colorful traditional attire.
  22. Explore the Kuroshio Ichiba Market: Visit the Kuroshio Ichiba Market, a bustling seafood market offering an abundance of fresh local seafood and produce. Take a stroll through the vibrant stalls, sample regional delicacies, and experience the lively atmosphere of this local culinary hub.
  23. Take a Bike Ride along the Shimanto River: Rent a bicycle and pedal along the picturesque Shimanto River. Enjoy the scenic views, feel the refreshing breeze, and explore the charming riverside towns and villages at your own pace.
  24. Discover the Art in Kochi: Kochi is known for its vibrant art scene. Explore the numerous art galleries and exhibition spaces that showcase the works of local and international artists. Attend art events, exhibitions, and installations to immerse yourself in Kochi’s creative atmosphere.

As you embark on your journey in Kochi, Japan, use this detailed list as a guide to experiencing the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and culinary delights that this captivating region has to offer. Enjoy the warmth of the locals, immerse yourself in the unique traditions, and create unforgettable memories in the beautiful city of Kochi.

Kochi Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Kochi, Japan, offers a captivating travel experience with its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. From exploring historic sites and immersing yourself in traditional arts to indulging in culinary delights and enjoying the region’s natural beauty, Kochi has something to offer every traveler.

The city’s historical attractions, such as Kochi Castle and Harimaya Bridge, provide glimpses into the samurai era and the local history. The vibrant Hirome Market offers a culinary adventure with its diverse food stalls, allowing you to sample local delicacies and interact with locals.

Nature enthusiasts will be delighted by Kochi’s beautiful beaches, scenic rivers, and national parks. Whether it’s taking a relaxing river cruise along the Yoshino River, exploring the Shimanto River Valley on a hike, or visiting the Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park for breathtaking coastal scenery, the region’s natural beauty will leave you in awe.

Kochi also offers unique cultural experiences, such as attending a traditional tea ceremony, participating in a Bon dance, or exploring the art scene through galleries and museums. The city’s connections to historical figures like Sakamoto Ryoma add a deeper layer of historical significance to your visit.

Throughout your journey in Kochi, you will encounter the warm and welcoming nature of the locals, who take pride in sharing their traditions and culture with visitors. The region’s delicious cuisine, including local specialties like Katsuo no Tataki and sake, will tantalize your taste buds.

As you plan your trip to Kochi, Japan, use this travel guide as a valuable resource to navigate the city’s attractions, plan your itineraries, and make the most of your time in this enchanting destination. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry, embrace the natural beauty, and create lasting memories in the captivating city of Kochi.

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