Treat your body and your taste buds in Kochi Make the most of your visit to Kochi by sampling its natural and fresh ingredients

Kochi is blessed with a climate and geography that makes the area perfectly suited to growing high quality fruit and vegetables. Read on to discover the various ways you can sample Kochi’s natural bounty.

A yuzu citrus aroma craft workshop

The hot spring resort of Umaji is also famed for its production of the ‘yuzu’ variety of citrus. The yuzu has a distinctive aroma - something between a grapefruit and an orange - and it is often used as flavoring in Japanese cuisine and condiments. Its fragrance and oils are also added to a variety of cosmetics and bath accessories. It is not unusual to find yuzu floating in Japanese baths.

At Umaji, you can join a yuzu aroma craft workshop, where you can make your very own yuzu aroma products. They offer workshops to make everything from yuzu bath salts to yuzu soap. On this trip, we opted for the yuzu lotion workshop. A warm and refreshing aroma of yuzu greets you as you walk through the doors to the workshop. All the ingredients and equipments are neatly prepared and the instructor carefully explains every stage of the process. The instructions are in Japanese, but it should be easy enough to follow even if you do not speak the language. One of the reassuring benefits of making the product yourself, is you know exactly what has gone into it. They even provide packaging to wrap your creation, making it the perfect present to yourself and a great souvenir from your trip to Kochi.

Kochi’s charming organic market

Kochi’s organic market is a mere 20-minute drive from Kochi City. Its delightful tents and stalls offer a wide assortment of organic products, from fresh vegetables to delicious organic teas. There is even a massage tent to tend to any aching muscles.

Established in 2008, the market has been growing in popularity ever since. For many residents of Kochi, this market has become an essential part of their weekly grocery shop. The various store owners are friendly and approachable. Most of the products are handmade - even including a special soap made from wild boar oils. Some of the organic teas made entirely of herbs and natural ingredients were out of this world. As with any organic market, the best part of the experience is interacting directly with the producer.

Strawberry picking at Nishijima Flower Garden

Strawberry picking would not register high on the to-do list of most visitors to Japan, especially in winter. However, the Nishijima Flower Garden offers just that and as it turns out, strawberry picking in Kochi is a surprisingly fun (and tasty) experience. The strawberries are grown in enormous high-tech greenhouses. Special electronic monitors regulate the temperature inside the greenhouses, making the slightly humid, tropical temperature inside a welcome contrast to the chilly winter weather outside. As for the fruit picking itself, they provide special trays and condensed milk to dip the strawberries into for some variety. Not that you need it - the strawberries are superb. Once you start it is very difficult to stop feasting.

The main atrium houses a cafe and restaurant and a bouncy castle for the children - all under a brilliant canopy of bright bougainvillea. Needless to say the desserts served in the cafe are covered in succulent fruit grown at the farm. Even after gorging on fresh strawberries, the freshly squeezed strawberry juice tasted exquisite. It just shows, you can never have enough strawberries!

Tea and cake in central Kochi

There are few better ways to enjoy a dessert unique to Kochi than in one of the most famous hotels in the city. The Tea Lounge Seseragi is inside the famous Jyoseikan Hotel where former guests include prime ministers and even the Emperor of Japan. Their speciality desserts are the cream-filled mochi rice ‘daifuku’, roll cake, and an ice cream all made using a special black bean native to Kochi. Although the grey appearance of the desserts might not look appetizing, the taste more than makes up for it. The recipes for the desserts where developed by the resident chef and have grown in popularity. So much so, the mochi daifuku is now served with first class meals on domestic JAL flights.

If you are looking for a memorable local tea to go with the desserts, you have to try Goishi Tea. Produced in one small village in the mountains of Kochi, this special fermented tea is only found in this area and contains plenty of detoxifying properties, including healthy bacteria that help with digestion and improve your immune system. The individual segments of tea look like the polished stone counters used in the Japanese game of ‘Go’ giving it its name Goishi Tea. The Tosa Cha Cafe in the main shopping arcade in Kochi offer a workshop for anyone wishing to brew their own pot of Goishi Tea. They recommend you brew the tea for 3 minutes to bring out the flavor. Leave it for longer if you prefer a stronger, darker tea.

(Visited in January 2017)