Kochi Prefecture, on Shikoku Island, is home to mountains, rivers and a stunning coastline, making a must-go destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The Yoshino River in northern Kochi features world-class whitewater rafting while the Shimanto River, in the west, is Japan’s last free-flowing crystal clear river.
Off the coast at Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and whale watching – or catch waves in the Hata area. Of course, Kochi is also famous for the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage and attracts soul-seeking pilgrims from all over the world. Discover more exciting activities and adventures that await in Kochi.
The Surfing Life – Hata Style
Intrepid surfers are known for traveling to the far reaches of the globe to find quality waves. While Kochi Prefecture, in southern Shikoku Island, may not qualify as remote, it is far away from the frenetic pace of Osaka, Tokyo and other large cities in Japan. Bruce Dillon, an avid Australian surfer, laid roots in Kuroshio, a town located in the Hata District of Kochi, and has built a “surf dojo” where aspiring surfers can get their feet wet and get a taste for the surfing lifestyle. The Hata area has numerous surf breaks, delicious local cuisine and a laid-back culture that is ideal for extended holidays or remote work away from the crowds.
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. The region stays warmer than mainlandd Japan, even in peak winter, and river fun awaits from early spring to late autumn.
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.
Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van
The southernmost prefecture of Shikoku Island has long been a favorite travel destination for locals, dating back to the Edo Period when pilgrims making the 88 Temple Pilgrimage would detour to enjoy the beaches and aquamarine waters of Tatsukushi. Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
Following the Paper Trail in Kochi
Washi—traditional Japanese paper—has a history of nearly 1,500 years in Japan. Washi was used widely in everyday life until the arrival of mass-produced, machine-made Western paper in the 20th century. Today, washi is more art than commodity with a select few artists working to help keep this traditional paper relevant and evolving along with modern society. on such artist carrying on the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi is Rogier Uitenboogaart.
Unchanged Uguru: Snorkeling and Diving in Kochi
Uguru is remote by anyone’s definition and going onshore is a step back in time. The village consists of perhaps twenty wooden homes, built practically on top of each other, continuing straight up the mountainside. Its waters are some of the clearest around and perfect for snorkeling and diving and if you are lucky you might finish off a day exploring with a “Daruma Sunset.”
River and Sea – The Shimanto and Uwa Inlets
The Shimanto-gawa (Shimanto River) is one of the last remaining clear rivers in Japan, known for its un-dammed, pristine water and beautiful landscape. After cruising down the mostly empty road along this sparkling river, continue southbound for Cape Ashizuri where the route turns back north along the tranquil inlets of the Uwa Sea.
Japan Eco Track: Cycling Mountains to Rivers in Shikoku
The mountains of Shikoku Island are a place of spirituality and vast wilderness. The Ishizuchi Mountains extend about 60 kilometers from east to west in western Shikoku, bordering Ehime and Kochi prefectures. The 1,982-meter Mt. Ishizuchi is the tallest mountain in western Japan and its four shrines are sacred points for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a spiritual experience.
The steep terrain makes for a challenging but rewarding ride for fit cyclists. Public transportation is limited here, so the best way to fully immerse yourself into Shikoku culture is by cycling the Japan Eco Track. Access from Tokyo or Osaka is easiest by flying to Matsuyama Airport in Ehime (1.5 hours from Tokyo and 50 minutes from Osaka). Take a bus to Matsuyama Station (25 minutes) then take an hour-long train to Iyo-Saijo Station or drive 45 minutes from Matsuyama IC to the Ishizuchi region.