Experience the Charm Of Kochi

Japan of course is renowned for the uniqueness of its cuisine, culture, traditions and art, and Kochi is no exception. We would like to introduce some local events where you can experience and enjoy the delights of Kochi!

Fabulous Food!

Firstly, we have Tosa no Okyaku, which usually takes place in March. Tosa is the ancient name for Kochi and okyaku means a banquet in the local dialect. For this annual event, tables and tatami mats are set up in popular shopping areas, and people enjoy consuming food and drink together. Here you can enjoy seeing Kochi’s famous sawachi ryori which is a mixture of tasty dishes; including sashimi and sushi, served on a large plate. During this time, the whole city, in a sense becomes like the dish itself, welcoming everyone with a delicious assortment of food. This reflects how Kochi people like to mingle with others, no matter what their age, gender, social status, or nationality is. This is a great way to meet the local people, called tosa jin, and experience a fabulous feast!

Secondly in autumn (September-November), there are local food events collectively called Tosa no Houjousai (fertility festivals). These are held in various locations in and around Kochi City and are unique to each area in the sense that you can try that particular place’s seasonal specialty. This is again combined with live music and other entertainment while you eat and drink, an excellent way to experience what Kochi people themselves enjoy.

Last but by no means least, we have the Dorome Festival. This is held at the beach in Konan City east of Kochi Prefecture and is essentially a drinking contest. This is a demonstration of Kochi people’s well-known love and prowess for consuming alcohol! It is a celebration of local fishing culture and customs, and involves contestants attempting to drink large amounts of local sake on the stage in front of a cheering crowd! Do you have the nerve to take part? If not, no problem, there are many food stands and other entertainment on offer, so being part of the audience is just as exciting!

Fantastic Festivals!

In February, the captivating Akiba Festival is held in Niyodogawa Town. This is one of the top three festivals in Kochi and is over 200 years old. A procession consisting of participants of all ages wearing a variety of costumes and masks, walks slowly uphill for about 3km, carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine). The lively sounds of traditional musical instruments such as conch shells, bamboo flutes and Japanese drums can be heard as the 200 or so participants continue on their way past the tea fields. This music evokes an ancient time when instruments seemed at one with nature.A unique and mysterious dance using long cypress poles topped with black feathers is perhaps the highlight of the festivities. The poles are thrown between two people and the way they bend as they are caught is a real heart in mouth moment!

In July a truly special festival is held in Akaoka Town, just ten minutes from Kochi Ryoma Airport by car. A local artist Ekin, who had a studio here in the Edo Period, painted masterpieces of dramatic Japanese art, some of which depict a variety of bloody scenes. These paintings were seen by the people of Akaoka as a kind of talisman, the blood-stained red pigment acting as protection from evil sea spirits. Most of the twenty-three surviving paintings are displayed just two days a year in the streets of the town, eerily lit up by flickering candlelight. Many comical and witty messages of sarcasm and humor are hidden in the artworks. Come closer to decipher them! The Ekin Festival is a chance to see these amazing paintings close up in all their gory glory!

The Yosakoi Festival held throughout Kochi City Center in August is undoubtably Kochi’s best-known event, where teams of dancers in colorful costumes dance in the streets to music blasting out from motorized floats. It is a fascinating combination of the traditional and the modern with a myriad of costumes and dancing styles on display. The music, costumes and dancing styles are completely free and unique to each team, although the music must be based on the original yosakoi song. The naruko (wooden clappers) that all the dancers are required to use are an essential part of the performance and so it appears are the smiles of the participants! Both reflect the friendly and outgoing nature of the people of Kochi and this will surely rub off on you when you experience this amazing festival. An opportunity to take part is available with ‘open’ teams you can join on the day if the mood takes you. Alternatively, you can just hang out on the street and watch, take in the atmosphere and rub shoulders with the participants over some food and drink at Hirome market.

Amazing Art!

In May at Irino Beach, a popular surfing spot for locals, the beach becomes a gallery and T-shirts become the exhibits! Along the beach, opposite the ocean, about 1000 individually designed T-shirts hang, as if out to dry, blowing merrily in the sea breeze. The sight of these colorful and unique T-shirts fluttering above the sand against the backdrop of the glittering Pacific is like a big picture popping out of the frame. You will surely feel like stretching your arms out to embrace the moment! There is even a barefoot running event along the sand at the same time, which makes for an experience like no other! Why not combine art and exercise in a fantastic coastal setting?

※The dates and times of each event are subject to change, so please check in advance to avoid disappointment.