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    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
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        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
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        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
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        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
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        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
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        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
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        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
      • Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
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        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
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        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
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        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
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        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
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        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

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        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Lifestyle for Longevity...

        Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

        Kumano’s Path Less Traveled

        A forgotten pilgrimage trail, ancient power spots and authentic rural communities are waiting to be explored this hiking season on the Iseji Trail. Stretch your legs and tickle your spirit to welcome the green season on one of the Kumano Kodo’s finest routes, minus the crowds.

        Okinawa Forest Adventure

        Holiday-goers lounging on Onna’s white sand beaches are no doubt unaware of what’s going on high in the jungle as creatures climb above the forest canopy and zip or swing from tower to tower. Curious travelers will discover a new side of Okinawa’s tropical paradise if they take the leap into a Forest Adventure.

        Ryukyu’s Mountain Turtles – Interview wi...

        Okinawa attracts hordes of travelers to its sandy beaches and warm, clear water with divers and snorkelers often posting images of the majestic local sea turtles. The interior forest and rivers, however, are home to another Okinawa turtle also in need of protection—the small, reclusive, but equally beautiful, yamagame.

        Protecting the Sacred Trees of Koya-san

        Within the misty mountains of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Koya-san (Mt. Koya), stands as a sacred realm of tranquility, history, and spiritual significance. This awe-inspiring mountain has been revered for centuries and is home to a unique collection of trees known as the rokuboku, or The Six Trees of Koya-san.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
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Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Kochi

Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Kochi

Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Kochi

Shikoku conjures up images of misty mountains and pilgrims walking the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage. But the far tip of Shikoku Island in Kochi Prefecture is an off-the-beaten-path destination for divers, surfers and whale watchers. There’s also a local community of outdoor enthusiasts running lodges and showcasing the hidden secrets of Kochi’s outdoors. 

Kaiyu on the shores of Oki Beach is an escape for ocean lovers looking to reconnect with nature. Don’t be disappointed by Kaiyu’s exterior: on the outside, Kaiyu is a seven-story bleached-white resort condominium built in the “Bubble Era” during Japan’s heyday. But what gives this place its charm is the family that runs it and their commitment to sustainability. 

Getting Outdoors at Oki Beach

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

After several decades of working overseas in hospitality, the ebullient Mitsuhiro Okada moved back from Bali two decades ago to take over his father’s hotel. Together with his wife Taeko, he transformed the interior into an unpretentious hot spring resort. Kaiyu literally translates to “ocean healing,” and Okada hopes that guests will be able to find solace through nature and the ocean here. 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

“I grew up here at Oki Beach and have been swimming in these waters even before I was in elementary school,” remembers Okada, who is to this day an avid snorkeler and freediver. “I would catch fish and octopus and bring it home to my family. We started Kaiyu to show our kind of lifestyle: taking time to appreciate nature and enjoy natural food.” 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

Oki Beach is a one-and-a-half-kilometer stretch of white sandy beach: a cozy, protected bay with subtropical, turquoise waters. Although there are moderate waves here, it’s far from any major city, so surfers willing to make the trek can enjoy waves to themselves. It’s also a spawning ground for endangered loggerhead turtles. 

“Fifteen years ago, there used to be 100 turtles who would lay their eggs here annually,” says Okada. “But every year that number decreases. There are only twenty now.” 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

Okada guides guests to his favorite snorkeling spots where you can find sea turtles, eagle rays, pufferfish, nudibranch and many tropical fish. Guests can also rent snorkeling gear and surfboards for free. Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park is also a short drive away. It’s a breeding ground for colorful marine life and also attracts whales, dolphins and sea turtles. 

For a unique snorkeling experience, Okada also offers a cycling and snorkeling tour to a “secret river” in the mountains behind Kaiyu. 

“The river water is really clear, but also cold—like 15 degrees Celsius in winter. But hey, it’s great in summer especially after you’re sweaty from cycling,” laughs Okada. 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

Sustainability and Hospitality

As mass development and food production spreads throughout the country, many travelers who stay at Kaiyu are those who have developed recent allergic reactions and are trying to find an all-natural getaway where they can heal their bodies. 

“The family who’s staying here right now are temporarily escaping their nearby field’s fumigation,” explains Okada as a mother and two children run past. “Their bodies are very sensitive to chemicals, so when the farms started getting fumigated, they started getting nosebleeds!” 

Out of the 70 rooms, 22 are run by Kaiyu while the rest belong to other owners. Each room is designed differently, but they all face the ocean and use local wood such as hinoki (Japanese cypress) and sugi (Japanese cedar) and natural building materials not harmful to the body. Okada collaborates with local carpenters and WWOOFers (traveling volunteers through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) to give the hotel look an uplift. Since Okada is mainly working on the renovations by himself and occasionally a small team, renovation is still ongoing. 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

After a day outdoors, relax in the onsen facility which Okada built himself. The water is sourced from one kilometer underground and contains hydrocarbonic acid and salt. The hydrocarbonic acid smoothens and moisturizes skin and the salt warms the body for a long time even after the bath. Firewood from demolished homes nearby are used to boil the hot spring water, which makes the water more effective. It’s said that hot water boiled with firewood does not cool as easily due to the far-infrared effect. Aside from the water, the granite stones in and lining the bathtub are said to emit far infrared rays and warms the body. 

“We had one lady who was battling cancer, who lives nearby in Ashizuri. She bathed in our onsen everyday for two months. Then miraculously, the cancer left her body,” says Okada. “We’d like to believe the hot spring’s healing effects helped.” 

For guests’ first night at Kaiyu, Taeko-san prepares a family-style feast in the main hall. She uses local ingredients like Kochi’s specialty: freshly caught bonito, and as many organic ingredients she can find including tofu, ginger, garlic, onions and salad greens. Just like eating with family or close friends, dinner is set at a specific time on a big table made from upcycled wood. To break the ice, one guest is asked to “start off the meal” with a simple “Cheers” in their own dialect or language. To close the meal, another guest has to perform a song or dance (if that sounds too daunting, sharing what you enjoyed most that day will suffice). 

Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

“Before the pandemic, we used to feed twenty guests at one time,” remembers Okada. “But I think the best number is eight people, because we can all sit around this table comfortably and communicate. It has a more intimate feeling, like you’re eating with family.” To make sure every guest gets the opportunity to enjoy this dinner, guests alternate eating at the hotel. Each room has a kitchenette and there are several izakayas and restaurants a drive away. 

Kaiyu continues to accept a minimum number of guests so that travelers can enjoy Oki Beach’s peace and quiet, and also so that the Okadas can maintain their outdoor lifestyle. 

“If we’re hosting guests but we ourselves are not happy or too busy or distracted to talk with and take care of our guests, I don’t think they would be relaxed either,” explains Okada. 

Kaiyu is accepting reservations through their website. Depending on the room, it costs ¥9,000 to ¥23,000 per night (additional ¥2,500 per person), and discounted during off season and for longer stays. Family dinner is by reservation only. To reserve or learn more, visit their website here.

Getting There

Kochi Ryoma Airport is an hour and a half flight from Tokyo, and Kaiyu is a three-hour drive south of the airport. As the prefecture is big with limited public transportation, the best way to get around is by renting a car near the airport or in Kochi City.

Read about Sustainable Washi Paper Making at Kamikoya in Kochi.

Learn more about traveling Kochi by camper van here.

Visit Kochi’s official tourism website here.

Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Kochi

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Latest posts

Okinawa’s Blue Zone —A Li...

Dan Buettner’s bestseller, “Blue Zones,” which was also adapted into a hit series on Netflix, identifies five regions with a high number of centenarians. One of these zones is Yambaru, in the north of Okinawa Island. A rich cultural and natural heritage remain in this region, holding the secret to the longevity of the communities living there.

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