Muroto UNESCO Global Geopark - Get a sense of the earth's dynamics
Muroto sits at the most south-easterly point of Kochi Prefecture, where the interwoven land and sea create a breathtaking view. You can marvel at large-scale rock formations, and experience the area's unique food culture and history. There's also a relaxation facility that uses deep sea water from Muroto, and a popular spot where you can interact with marine life.
Feel the dynamic forces of the earth here at the Muroto UNESCO Global Geopark.
About Muroto UNESCO Global Geopark
A geopark is a single unified area where important geographical features, geological heritage, and the local ecosystems and human population that live with them are carefully protected, and the area is used for education and regional development.
From about 50 million years ago to about 16 million years ago, land formed from sediment in the deep ocean of the Pacific, and through tectonic movement of the oceanic and continental plates, the land was thrust up to the surface. Muroto is a place where you can observe these deformations of the earth’s crust up close.
As this resource was being well-maintained and utilized, it was recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
At the Muroto UNESCO Global Geopark you can see formations that tell of the earth’s movement, valuable sediment and fossils, and flora and fauna that have been dedicated national natural monuments. Here you'll find workings and lifestyles that have been shaped by, and make use of, the area's unique environment and climate. Muroto is also dotted with places that are connected to the Buddhist monk Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi), who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
Explore all the natural, historical and cultural attractions or join in some of the various activities on offer, and discover the connection between humans and the earth.
Must-see no.1 - Muroto Global Geopark Center
The Muroto Global Geopark Center offers easy to understand explanations about the Muroto UNESCO Global Geopark, as well as tips on how best to enjoy the area. Learn about the environment, history and culture that’s characteristic of the area from display panels, dioramas, images and video displays. Find out what’s worth seeing and even ask for advice on the best way to get around within the Geopark.
Coming to the center to collect information before heading out into the park is the best way to get the most out of your time in Muroto. You can head back to the center afterwards to get answers to any questions that you may come up with during your “field work”.
Cape Muroto, at the tip of the Muroto Peninsula, juts out into the Pacific Ocean in a triangular shape. Walking the Ransho Boardwalk that runs along the coastline for 2.6km, you can see rocks formed from hardened magma and land that was once at the bottom of the deep ocean about 16 million years ago, plus a shoreline that was forced up by large earthquakes. The cape also features subtropical plants like sea figs.
Be sure to check out the places on Cape Muroto that have a connection with the Buddhist monk Kukai, like the cave where he is said to have found enlightenment. There is signage in multiple languages set up at each spot. You can also walk around on guided tours. Guides will be able to explain rock formations, local plants and the history and culture of Muroto, offering a deeper experience.
A cave that was carved out by the force of the waves. It’s also the place where the Buddhist monk Kukai was said to have found enlightenment.
The view of the sky and ocean from here is said to be the inspiration behind *Kukai’s name.
*In Japanese, the symbol 空(ku) means “sky” and 海(kai) means "sea”.
A rock formation that looks like the side profile of a person.
These rock formations have a long thin striped pattern. They formed on the bottom of the sea from mixtures of sand and mud that built up and twisted.
●Cape Muroto Observatory
You can see both the east and west coast of Cape Muroto from this observatory. Absolutely superb views.
A white lighthouse that sits 151m above sea level overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the tip of Cape Muroto. It has been protecting ships navigating the waters around Cape Muroto since its construction in 1899. The lighthouse is the second oldest iron constructed lighthouse in Japan and the lens is one of the most historically valuable. With a diameter of 2.6m, the beam from the lighthouse can reach up to 49km.
There is also an observatory near the lighthouse where you can get a view of the lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean together.
Blessings from Mother Nature
Deep sea water that has circulated for a very long time in the deepest parts of the ocean rises up off the coast of Muroto. The water is drawn up from depths that sunlight is unable to penetrate and is very pure. This deep sea water with its well-balanced mineral content can be used in a variety of applications.
●Muroto Deep Sea Water Aqua Farm
A facility that gathers and supplies deep sea water. There are information displays and videos set up so you can find out all about deep sea water. The facility also sells skincare and cosmetics, beverages, seasoning and sweets, etc., that contain deep sea water.
Address: 3507-1 Murotomisaki-cho, Muroto City
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Searest Muroto is a thalassotherapy health and well being center that uses Muroto’s deep sea water. There’s a warm pool (set at a comfortable 34 degrees Celsius), an outdoor jacuzzi, and a Finnish sauna. Make use of the water current and pressure to enjoy aquatic exercises like water walking/stretching or even aqua massage. If you don’t have a bathing suit with you, you can rent one from the facility.
Address: 3795-1 Murotomiisaki-cho, Muroto City
Closed on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.
Admission: Pool/sauna/bath 1300 yen
Places to stop at in the Muroto area
There’s an aquarium where you can meet the sea creatures of Muroto, and a facility where you can interact with dolphins. For lunch, why not try a delicious rice bowl topped with kinmedai (golden eye perch or alfonsino).
●Muroto Schoolhouse Aquarium
This aquarium was created by renovating a building that was once an elementary school. Displays of local marine life are set up in water tanks inside what were once classrooms and in the pool that was once used by elementary school students for swimming lessons. There’s even a sea turtle and shark exhibit!
With its schoolhouse feel still in tact, Muroto Schoolhouse Aquarium is a unique attraction worth checking out!
●Muroto Dolphins Center
A facility where you can interact with dolphins. See dolphins up close and join in activities where you can touch, feed and even swim with dolphins.
Savor dishes featuring deep-sea fish kinmedai. The Muroto area ranks number one in western Japan in terms of quantity of kinmedai catch. Compared to other areas, the docks are very close by, so you can enjoy some of the freshest kinmedai right here in Muroto - something gaining the attention of foodies.