The Route to Adventure: Osaka to Kochi

Tokyo. Kyoto. Osaka. Most visitors to Japan tend to stick to this famous “golden route,” to take in the country’s best known sights. But some travelers want to go deeper, and discover a side of Japan that is still hidden and pristine.

Just a couple hours by train from Osaka and Kyoto is the island of Shikoku, home to one of the country’s best kept secrets: Kochi Prefecture. Stretching along the Pacific Ocean, Kochi boasts a surprising diversity of landscapes, ranging from lush river valleys to karst-studded plateaus, beaches surrounded by coral reefs and timeless little towns dotted with extraordinary architecture. 

If you can, try to time your train or car journey to Kochi City, the main hub, so that you arrive in the early afternoon on Sunday. Drop off your bags and head to the city’s iconic Sunday Market, a beloved institution that has continued for over 300 years and stretches around 1.3km, starting at the foot of stately Kochi Castle.  After exploring the city, head out to see more.

Adventurous souls can go rafting on the Yoshino River (which hosted the 2017 World Rafting Championships), or opt for adventures on the Shimanto and Niyodo, two of Japan’s clearest, purest waterways. 

Besides kayaking and SUP, the Shimanto is also ideal for those who want to bike along the riverside to check out the famous chinkabashi, try “river meditation” at Iwamoto-ji Temple or perhaps create a hand forged knife, quenched in the pure water. 

The Niyodo River is another rafting spot, as well as a canyoning paradise. Spot the Seven Lucky Gods along a short hike through Nakatsu Gorge, marvel at the glowing “Niyodo Blue” color of the water, then make your way to Blue Brew, where you can sample some truly local beers. 

Want a more relaxed beach vacation? Whales swim off the shores of pristine Irino Beach in the Kuroshio area, and the sandy shores and coral-filled coastlines around Kashiwajima Island and Oki Beach are fantastic for snorkeling to see the vibrant sea life.

You don’t even need a car to explore Kochi, as there are plenty of interesting spots to explore just a train ride away from the capital city. You can easily take a day trip to the well-preserved fishing village of Kure, and sample some of the freshy caught katsuo (bonito) at the popular market, or wander through cherry tree-filled Makino Park and the lovely traditional houses in Sakawa. A little further afield, Nakamura Station is the gateway to the Shimanto River. Or venture in the opposite direction to the eastern side of Kochi to check out Aki, a former castle town where you can explore lanes lined with the former homes of samurai (and try some truly unique roasted eggplant ice cream!)
Inspired yet?
Start planning your next adventure: https://visitkochijapan.com/en/osakatokochi
  • The Route to Adventure: Osaka  to Kochi

  • The Route to Adventure: Osaka  to Kochi