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    • Spring
      • spring outdoor japan shinano discovery

        2022 Spring Tours and Travel

        Check out these green season tours and experiences across Japan!
        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.

        2022 Art Events in Japan

        Two of Japan's biggest art events return this year: the Setouchi Triennale on the Seto Inland Sea Islands and Niigata's Echigo Tsumari Art Field.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        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
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
        Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
        video

        Hachimantai’s Powder History

        Discover powder and ski culture deep in Tohoku at Hachimantai.
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
      • 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.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        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.
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • 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.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • River and Lake
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kan...

        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 Salamand...

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Shower Climbing High Abov...

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawanobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Spring Skiing in Japan 2022

        It may be spring in Japan but you can still ski in select ski resorts open all the way to Golden Week.
        Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
        video

        Hachimantai’s Powder History

        Discover powder and ski culture deep in Tohoku at Hachimantai.
    • Travel
      • sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Shower Climbing High Above Wakasa Bay

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawanobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        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.

        Market Watch: Oiso’s Shishimai Marche

        Check out this farmers' market in the beachside town of Oiso.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
    • Food and Drinks
      • sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Shower Climbing High Above Wakasa Bay

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawanobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        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.

        Market Watch: Oiso’s Shishimai Marche

        Check out this farmers' market in the beachside town of Oiso.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
    • Races and Events
      • spring outdoor japan shinano discovery

        2022 Spring Tours and Travel

        Check out these green season tours and experiences across Japan!

        2022 Art Events in Japan

        Two of Japan's biggest art events return this year: the Setouchi Triennale on the Seto Inland Sea Islands and Niigata's Echigo Tsumari Art Field.

        2022 Spring Races & Festivals

        The start of the green season is a great time to start trail running, cycling and hiking. Check out these races, outdoor events and traditional festivals held this spring.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!

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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