Discovering the City of Kochi in Japan

When visiting Japan, the typical places to visit would be Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hokkaido to name a few. This is because these places offer the most exciting and adventurous experiences there is to have when in Japan. Not only that but these, and other cities as well, are highly urbanized. Hence, they have the most updated shopping malls and electronic stores that visitors look for when visiting another country. However, there are also other places or areas in Japan that are worth checking out. These places may not have the most sophisticated buildings in all of Japan, but they do offer a sense of tranquility, freedom, and an overall different kind of experience. One of these places is the city of Kochi.

Reminiscing the History of Kochi City in Kochi Prefecture 

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Known as the capital of Kochi Prefecture, the city of Kochi is situated on the island of Shikoku in the Land of the Sun. The city center is located in the river plain that was initially settled as a castle town. This castle town was around the seat of various lords residing in the Tosa Province situated in Kochi Castle. It was Lord Yamauchi Kazutoyo who chose the castle site in the year 1601. Hence, the name of the city originated from the name of the castle itself. Currently, the town is the largest settlement in the region with it being the center administration for the Tosa Province.

Like the many other provinces and cities in Japan, Kochi also has a history that is worth learning about when visiting the city. The area of Kochi became well-known during the period of Meiji Restoration as the place became a center of pro-imperial ideology. Its fame further grew as it also served in incubating both democratic and human rights movements in the country. 

One unfortunate event that occurred in the Kochi area happened on the 3rd of July in the year 1945. The place became a target for bombing by the XXI Bomber Command of the United States. The reason behind this attack was due to the status of the city being a prefectural capital. Furthermore, the city of Kochi also served as a center for industry as well as commercial trade. At 6:22 PM on Japan Standard Time, the 129 Aircraft took off to attach the city of Kochi. Incendiary bombs amounting to 1060 tons were dropped on the area of Kochi, which destroyed more than 45 percent of its built up areas.

While this was an unfortunate incident, the city nonetheless emerged unwavering. Developments in the city were made over time. The city itself was incorporated on the 1st of April in the year 1889. Five years later, the tram service began to operate in the city on the 2nd of May in the year 1904. It was 47 years later than the city of Kochi was finally connected to the national rail network on the 12th of November in the year 1951.

On the 1st of April in the year 1998, the city of Kochi was recognized as the first ever core city on the island of Shikoku. Seven years later, both the Kagami Village and the Tosayama Village hailing from the Tosa District were merged into Kochi on the 1st of January in the year 2005. Three years after that, the Haruno Town hailing from the Agawa District was also merged into Kochi on the 1st of January in the year 2008.

Facts on the City: Map, Weather, Hospitals, University, Hotels, and Ports

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Being the primary city of Kochi Prefecture, the city of Kochi houses more than 40 percent of the population of the whole prefecture. The city of Kochi has an estimated population of 332, 059 as of the 1st of April in the year 2016. It also has a total area of 309.22 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 119.39 square miles, and an estimated population density of 1,100 persons per square kilometer, which is equivalent to 2,800 persons per square mile. Its most famous dish known as katsuo tatake, which is made by tuna that is lightly seared and seasoned, serves as a symbol of the city.

With the coordinates of 33°34’ North and 133°32’ East, the city of Kochi is governed by Mayor Seiya Okazaki. The city of Kochi also has symbols in nature, namely, the Chinaberry Tree, the Winter-hazel flower, and the Japanese wagtail bird. Should one wish to drop by the city hall, it is located in 5-1-45 Honmachi, Kōchi-shi 780-0571.There are also departments that are overseeing this area.

The area of Kochi is comprised of three geographic sections that are quite distinct from one another. Out of the three sections, the part that is the most settled is the portion of the city that is located at the head of Urado Bay, situated in a alluvial plain that is quite narrow. This alluvial plain is crossed by various rivers such as the Kokubu River and the Kagami River. Furthermore, the plain is also surrounded by mountains to the north as well as a range of hills on the western and southern side. Standing at 1,176 meters high, which is equivalent to 3,858 feet, the highest peak in the area of Kochi is Kuishi-yama.

As for the temperature in the area, Kochi generally has a wet and humid subtropical climate. The area is known to receive as much as twice the amount of rainfall that the other chief cities of Shikoku, namely, Takamatsu and Matsuyama, receive in a year. Furthermore, due to the area being directly open to the Pacific Ocean, which is considered the entrance of storms to the country, the area of Kochi is highly prone to most typhoons. In fact, the area is considered to be the most prone to typhoons in comparison to the other major cities in Japan.

On the other hand, Kochi may still be a good option to live and study in. The city houses two universities, namely, Kochi University and University of Kochi. Kochi University is a national university while the University of Kochi is a prefectural university. There are also four junior colleges within the city of Kochi. The Kochi Commercial High is directly administered by the city while there are also 15 other high schools that can be found within the boundaries of Kochi. Professors and teachers in these educational institutions are also exemplary.

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Fret not for the people visiting the city of Kochi because the city also houses a number of reliable and efficient hospitals should one get sick or need medicine. When feeling under the weather, people may visit hospitals within the area for consultation. Some of these hospitals include Kochi Medical School Hospital, Kochi Red Cross Hospital, and Ja Kochi Hospital.

Because the country is quite well-known for their festivals, it comes as no surprise that the city of Kochi holds a festival of its own. The most famous festival in the city of Kochi is the Yosakoi. Held in August every year, various performances are held during the festival as the locals join the celebrations. Several teams of dancers perform to not just traditional songs but also to modern music. They go around several places in Kochi and amount to thousands. This festival holds great value among the locals and considered a big deal to celebrate it.

There are several tourists attractions within the city of Kochi, the most popular being the Kochi Castle, which survived through the year and is still in its pre-restoration phase. Other tourist attractions include the Harimaya-bashi, the mountain Godaisan, and The Museum of Art. Places of distinct importance can also be found in the city of Kochi such as the Former Yamauchi Residence and Tosa Yamauchi Family Treasury and Archives. More information can be found or researched on the Kochi website.

As for transportation, probably the most visible form is the tram service that is operated by Tosaden Kotsu. There are three lines of historic cars that provide service to the major east-west and north-south axes of Kochi. There is also an extensive bus network within the city of Kochi. Furthermore, Kochi is also situated on the Dosan Line of the JR Shikoku, which connects the city to northern Shikoku. Not only that, there are also interchanges with the Tosa Kuroshio Railway that connects the city of Kochi to both the eastern and western side of Kochi Prefecture. The central station of JR is the Kochi Station. Other infrastructures in Kochi include the Kochi Expressway and the Kochi Ryoma Airport.

There is also a port located in central Kochi known as the Kochi Port. It has served as a hub for marine traffic traveling between the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area and the South Shikoku area for a long time now. It was in the year 1951 that Kochi Port was appointed as a major port and in March of the year 1998 that the Kochi New Port was opened partly in the area of Misato to serve as an international trade terminal located on the Pacific region. The new main berth began its operations on the 23rd of May in the year 2014, which made both local and international cruises call this port.

Notable People Who Originated from Kochi City

There were various notable people who hailed from the city of Kochi. One of them is Okada Izo, one of the four most famous assassins who ever lived during the Bakumatsu period. Another famous person during the Bakumatsu period is Sakamoto Ryoma, who was the man who led the movement in the overthrowing of the Tokugawa shogunate. As for the man who had shaped the first political party in Japan, it was Itagaki Taisuke, a politician who led the Freedom and People’s Right Movement.

In the name of science, Tsutomu Seki was an astronomer who had uncovered various comets and asteroids during his lifetime. A pioneering botanist, Tomitaro Makino was often referred to as the Father of Japanese Botany, having imparted several teachings to the industry of botany. Lastly, Kusunose Kita was a well-known advocate for Women’s rights in the country, specifically in area of Kochi.

Kochi Tourism: A Guide on What Attracts Tourists to the City

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There are several reasons as to why there are still tourists who wish to visit Kochi despite the fact that there are numerous more developed and popular cities in Japan. One reason is to try the most famous dish in all of Kochi known as katsuo no tataki. Also known as skipjack tuna, this dish is highly popular due to its simple but tasty characteristics. Traditionally, this dish is prepared by broiling it over a straw fire. The goal is to let the outer layer be grilled for a little bit.

One of the main attractions of Kochi is Mt. Godaisan. A small mountain located on the east side of Kochi’s downtown, Mount Godaisan got its name from a Chinese mountain by Buddhist priests who visited the land of China. The same priests also founded a temple on the area of Godaisan known as the Chikurinji Temple. Today, this temple has a reputation as a scholastic institution and has been a major stop on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. One of the temple’s main features is its magnificent five-storey pagoda.

Another main attraction of Kochi is the Kochi Castle. Also known as Kochijo in Japanese, Kochi Castle is among the twelve Japanese castles that remained unwavering and survived through various catastrophes that occurred after the feudal period of Japan, such as fires and wars. Previously the seat of the Yamauchi lords, Kochi Castle used to be known as Tosa during the Edo Period. The castle contains local treasures and historical objects with its buildings being recognized as important cultural properties.

One of the unique features of the castle was its main tower. Also known as donjon in Japanese, the main tower served not just for military purposes but also as a residence, which is distinct from other castles in Japan. The wooden interior of the castle that depicts its origins in the Edo period is still being maintained up to this day. There are many more places that one can visit when in Kochi such as the Katsurahama Beach and Kochi Downtown. Indeed, even a small city like Kochi still has a lot to offer to visitors of Japan.