If you visit Kochi, you’re sure to notice many statues and images of a handsome man in traditional garb (and famously, western-style boots). You can even order latte art of his portrait in a cafe at Kochi Station! Although we like to remember his achievements throughout the year, today is particularly special because...it's his BIRTHDAY! Exactly 187 years ago today on November 15th 1835, Ryoma Sakamoto was born into a samurai family in Tosa Domain (present-day Kochi), later becoming one of the most influential figures of his time
As a skilled swordsman and most importantly, charismatic leader, Ryoma played a pivotal role in negotiating the end of military rule by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867. Consequently, this ushered in the Meiji Restoration and the era of modernization in Japan. Sadly, he died young when he was assassinated by enemies at the age of just 33, but the respect and admiration for him lives on in Kochi
Commemorating his birth month, November is a time we particularly celebrate Ryoma’s bravery and contribution to the peace we now get to enjoy in this country. Located just 40 minutes from Kochi Station by bus, Katsurahama Beach is one of the best places to discover Ryoma’s world. Not only did he play here as a child, there is a 13.5 meter-high Ryoma statue that overlooks the Pacific Ocean with a bold and determined expression. Come take a moment to enjoy the magnificent view, just as Ryoma himself did (and does)
Adjacent to the statue is the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, where you can learn more about his life and times through a variety of media. Multi-language support is available, so you don’t need to know Japanese to enjoy your visit
While you’re in the area, definitely check out the photogenic Watatsumi Shrine, where fisherfolk come to pray for safety at sea. The shrine is also a popular place for those seeking romance! Ryoma was said to have had a very loving relationship with his wife, Oryo, so perhaps there is something in the water at Katsurahama Beach?