An almost perfect trip to Kochi!
In the middle of October, I took advantage of the current “Go To Travel Campaign” and made a short trip with my daughter to Kochi Prefecture for three days and two nights, mainly to explore the Niyodo River, which is called the “Miracle of Clear Water.
A 35% discount on lodging costs is only good if the lodging costs are high. The same is true for a regional coupon worth 15% of the accommodation cost. However, we tried the exact opposite pattern to see how cheaply we could travel.
（※The photo shows the Niyodo River as we first saw it.）
Blessed with fine weather, we were refreshed by the scenery of the Niyodo River, tantalized by the local cuisine, thrilled by the encounter with rare ingredients, and on top of that, we got to visit two gorges!
One of the best encounters I had was at the crystal pools in Yasui Gorge, where the blue color seemed to draw me in.
This is the “ultimate” Niyodo Blue.
Thanks to the campaign, we were able to reduce our overhead costs, and it was a fulfilling trip for which I can give almost a perfect score.
It all started with a special offer to dine at Tokugetsuro, a long-established restaurant, and “Tsugani” from Niyodo River.
One day in the middle of September, my daughter suddenly said, “Let’s go to Kochi.
She recalled that when she got a credit card, she was offered a special offer for a dinner of 10,000 yen or more at the Tokugetsurou in Kochi, which would cover the cost of two people for one person, and that the offer expired at the end of September.
Tokugetsurou is a famous traditional Japanese restaurant that appeared in the novel “Sunshine” by Tomiko Miyao and the movie “Sunshine”.
I would like to see the famous garden that has been there since the end of the Edo period and calligraphy and paintings by literati and artists. I also want to try sawachi cuisine. I’m intrigued.
*sawachi cuisine is a large dish heaped with local delicacies such as sashimi, katsuo no tataki, sushi, fried food, and pickled vegetables as in the following picture.
with Sawachi cuisine
|Tokugetsurou, a long-established restaurant founded in 1898, which was the setting for the film “Sunshine Tower”.||The Nanhakutei Residence, a tatami room that has been in existence since before World War II, was built without the use of a single nail.|
My daughter said, “Why don’t we go and eat some Tsugani (a kind of Japanese mitten crab) from Niyodo River? She said, “I hear it’s better than Shanghai crab,” which rather seemed to be her goal.
I’ve had several chances to taste the mitten crab in China, the home of Shanghai crab… I’m not too keen on this one. I need a car to get to the mid stream of the Niyodo River. and more importantly, the weather has to be good….
Tsugani, the mitten crab,
Tsugani, the mitten crab, Tsugani,
the mitten crab
At the end of the day, the two of us worked out our schedules, and decided to leave on the 30th.
However, as the end of the month approached, the weather became more and more suspicious. Mercilessly, the chances of rain were 100%. Rain is out of the question when going to Niyodo River. I had to give up the privilege of dinner.
Then we’ll go to Nakatsu Gorge in the upper reaches of the Niyodo River.
In October, when the corona overload had calmed down a bit, my daughter suggested it again.
“Let’s use the Go to Campaign to stay at a hotel in Kochi City with a reasonable price and eat delicious Katsuo no tataki! “And of course, try the Niyodo River crabs! “Let’s go to the Nakatsu Gorge upstream of the Niyodo River! And so on.
Intrigued by the key word “gorge”, I accepted my daughter’s offer.
（※The photo is near the entrance to Nakatsu Gorge.）
Now, let’s make a plan！
Narrow down the dates to Wednesday the 14th through Friday the 16th. First of all, there is the lack of transportation. It’s hard to drive a car.
The highway bus was the cheapest option, but it could be crowded, while the JR had the advantage of enjoying the scenic beauty of the Oboke and Koboke gorgess along the way. I adopted the JR plan for my daughter.
On the Internet, I found that it was cheaper and faster to go out to Kotohira and then to Kochi than to go via Takamatsu Station.
We scoured various lodging sites for a good deal on a hotel in the city center. But the weather was the most important thing. The weather forecast said it would be fine, but would it be…?
Separate departures, separate lodgings
While I was cautious, my daughter quickly made an appointment. she wanted to stay in a guesthouse, so he chose the Katsuo Guesthouse, which is far from the city center.
As usual, my daughter is always quick to take action when she thinks of something. And she’s leaving on Monday!
Why don’t you stay at a hotel
“Why don’t you join me for the next two days?” she said, “I’ll be working on my PC.”
We ended up leaving and staying in different places. She didn’t seem to be worried at all about her mother, who is a late-stage senior citizen.
Frustrated, I checked the weather forecast again and again. After being convinced that the weather would be fine, I booked a hotel on Monday from the booking site Jalan.
We chose the Hotel Avest for its low price and proximity to the Harimaya Bridge.
Saved ¥7,560 in transportation costs with a coupon ticket and the Kochi Recovery Campaign
Wednesday, October 14 (clear)
Late for business. At 2:45 p.m., I left for Kochi!
“Alone.” I took the Kotoden train to Kotohira, JR Kotohira Station is about a five minute walk from Kotoden Kotohira Station.
When I asked for a ticket to Kochi, he told me that the coupon ticket was a good deal.Two round-trip tickets, there’s such a thing!
The price was 2,560 yen less than planned. What’s more, if you use the Kochi Recovery Campaign, they will give you ￥5,000 cash back from your transportation costs.
It would have cost me 9,670 yen including the Kotoden, but it actually cost me only 2,110 yen. Thank goodness!
Express train collides with deer!
The 17:07 Nanpu 17 express train from Kotohira entered Tokushima Prefecture. By the time we crossed the Yoshino River, one of the three most violent rivers in Japan, nicknamed Shikoku Saburo, the sun was already setting.
Kochi and Kagawa prefectures are not adjacent to each other. They have Tokushima Prefecture in between. The JR Dosan Line runs through Tokushima Prefecture, overlooking the scenic Oboke and Koboke gorges of the Yoshino River. My daughter said she had fully enjoyed the spectacular view. By the time I passed through this area, it was so dark that I had to strain my eyes to see the river.
Crossing the Yoshino River in the evening
I have visited Kochi many times, but this is the second time in my long life that I have used the JR train. The first visit was during my school trip in elementary school.
Of course, in the days of the Japanese National Railways, locomotives pulled the trains, and after passing through several tunnels in the Asan and Shikoku mountain ranges, my face would turn black with soot. Yes, I also remembered the switchback at Tsubojiri Station and the climb up Inohana Pass.
And then the unexpected happened!
The train suddenly stopped!
The announcement on the train said, “We are stopping temporarily because we hit a deer. We will leave when we have confirmed that it is safe to do so. I was worried about what would happen in such a mountainous area, but the train eventually arrived at Kochi Station at 18:54, six minutes late. Oh dear!
（※The photo shows JR Kochi Station and the statues of the Three Tosa Warriors in the square in front of the station… From left to right: Hanpeita Takeichi, Ryoma Sakamoto, and Shintaro Nakaoka.）
Stay at Hotel Avest for two nights for ￥4,570 and got a regional coupon of ￥1,000
At the exit of the station, there was no sign of my daughter, who had promised to come and pick me up.
When I called her, she was still at the rental car agency in front of the station and told me to come there. My daughter rented a mini car for 3,850 yen for 24 hours. She drove me to the Hotel Avest at the end of the Harimaya Bridge.
She had asked the hotel to let her leave her car there while she went out for dinner. That was very clever.
|Harimaya Bridge||Regional coupons (front)||Regional coupons (back)|
The hotel sign was not clearly visible, and the hotel was so small that we accidentally passed it by. However, the front desk was polite and pleasant.
I originally chose the most reasonable plan, but after applying the 35% discount from the campaign and the discount coupon I got on the website, total price became 4,570 yen for two nights.
Don’t expect perfection from an inexpensive hotel. If you can sleep comfortably in a clean and spacious bed, that’s all that matters.
（I’m alone anyway…）
In addition, I received a 1,000 yen coupon, which I would use to pay for dinner. My daughter had already made a reservation at a highly rated izakaya called Suigeitei, as in Drunken Whale Arbor near the hotel. My daughter had a 2,000 yen worth regional coupon with her.
Suigeitei…Zero food costs with regional coupons and points from the Go To Eat campaign.
Suigeitei (Drunken Whale Arbor) is a fancy name.
We were ushered into a private room with a sunken kotatsu (Japanese style kotatsu) . First, we were served an appetizer of chicken, deep-fried tofu, and ? When I asked about it, I was told that it is a four-way bamboo that is harvested in autumn. Yes, this is delicious, a delicacy!
Among the drool-worthy dishes on the menu, we ordered some of Kochi’s unique delicacies, such as deep-fried utsubo (moray eel), deep-fried tofu with surimi of tsugani (Japanese mitten crabs), grilled whale, and Tosa rolls with bonito tataki as the core. My taste buds danced. Toasting with non-alcoholic beer for tomorrow’s exploration of Niyodo River!
The price was 4,620 yen, but I used a coupon and paid the difference of 1,620 yen.
It was cheap enough, but according to my daughter, there is also a “Go to eat campaign” that would give back 2,000 yen in points, so the difference in cost would be zero. That’s great!
I later realized that, ironically, the Tokugetsurou was right next to Suigitei (Drunken Whale Arbor) But the food at Suigritei was enough to give me a taste of Kochi.
Now to the Niyodo River! I dared to cross the Nagoya submerged bridge.
October 15 (Thu.) fine weather!
We were scheduled to leave at nine in the morning. I was all set and waiting for my daughter to pick me up in front of the hotel when I got a call saying it would take a little longer. Oh dear! We end up leaving an hour late.
My daughter, who has no sense of direction, is the driver. Even with a navigation system, I had to be careful. And I’m in charge of photography. We headed toward Matsuyama on Route 33. We entered the town of Ino and came to the Niyodo River.
Pretty far from the mouth of the river, but still wide open! And blue! It can’t be compared to the rivers in Kagawa Prefecture.
As we drove along the river, we saw the Nagoya submerged bridge and tried to get off the national road. A submerged bridge is a bridge without a parapet, designed to be underwater during a flood.
It was only wide enough for one car to pass through, but I crossed it as a memory of my trip and to test my courage. Perhaps because it was a compact car, it was not so scary.
Then, we headed further west in search of my daughter’s long-cherished dream, the Tsugani (Japanese mitten crab).
What’s a Ryukyu?
My daughter planned to have an early lunch at the restaurant “Aogi” where she could eat Tsugani while looking at the Niyodo River. However, the restaurant had been closed since few days ago. We had no choice but to go to another small diner that was said to be serving Tsugani.
A friend of mine sent me an e-mail saying, “I’ve heard that in Kochi they use ‘ryukyu’ for country sushi, but I’m wondering what it is. Please let me know if you find it.
（What’s a Ryukyu?)
The answer came quickly. I happened to take a restroom break and found the mysterious “Ryuukyu” at a JA roadside farmar’s market! I quickly sent my friend the photos and completed the mission.
At first glance, it looked like the stem of a taro, but it is a vegetable called lotus root or green taro, which was introduced from the Ryukyu Islands and is called ryukyu. While we eat the roots of taro, we eat the stems of ryukyu.
Ryukyu is a specialty of Kochi Prefecture, and since it is grown in greenhouses, we can eat them all year round now. The crunchy texture is appealing, and I hear there are many recipes for it.
I’d love to try the rumored “country sushi”！
The farmar’s market had a lot of tourist information about the Niyodo River area. When I mentioned that I was going to Nakatsu Gorge, Mr. Inoue, who also works as a guide, recommended that I should definitely go to Yasui Gorge since I could stop by there in time.
In that case, I’ll change some of my plans.
At last, we were able to meet a crab, but…
A little further west, we found a restaurant called “Yamaya Kurenai”.
The only dishes that serve Tsugani are Tsugani Udon and Tsugani Ramen. Both are 750 yen.
I couldn’t find the crab I was looking forward to in the bowl that was brought to me! The ones floating around in a minced state are said to be Tsugani.
In order to keep them fresh, it is ground alive with the whole shell and crushed… Expectations that had been so high were flattened. When I tasted it carefully, I found that it was fluffy and tasty, but I wanted to taste the Tsugani in its “original form” !
Encounter the ultimate Niyodo blue at Yasui Gorge
We pulled ourselves together and headed further west.
As we passed through the tunnel, we saw a sign for Yasui Gorge. As we left the national highway, the road became narrow and meandering, making it difficult to pass oncoming traffic.
We finally made it to Yasui Gorge!
First, we went to Mr. Inoue’s best recommendation, “Crystal Pool”.
After descending a long flight of stairs, the pool appeared at the end. As I approached, I was afraid to cross over the countless boulders that were strewn about. Then I saw the water flowing smoothly, catching the sunlight and shining a clear blue color.
I found the ultimate Niyodo Blue!
Pure and bewitching blue, as if inviting you to a fairyland or a mysterious world!
I was drawn to the transparent blue color and found it hard to leave, so I lingered there.We were concerned about the time we would have to spend later, so we had to pass on the “Hiryu no Taki” waterfall and other attractions.
A rainbow at 2 o’clock in Nakatsu Gorge “Uryu no Taki”
We headed for our original destination, Nakatsu Gorge. The distance to there was unexpectedly close and the roads were surprisingly easy to drive compared to Yasui Gorge. Nakatsu Gorge is large in scale. There is even a hot spring inn called “Yu no Mori” at the entrance of the steep Gorge.
A promenade has been set up along the Gorge, which is full of huge rocks. However, it is not a smooth road. There are ups and downs, rocky terrain, narrow spaces between huge rocks and through hollowed out rocks, which tickles my adventurous spirit even in my old age.
The Gorge, with its giant rocks and abundant water, is “one step, one view”, showing a different expression as you walk.
At the JA farmer’s market, there were specimens of colorful stones from all around the area. Rocks of various colors can also be seen in Nakatsu Gorge, adding to the richness of the gorge’s expression. The gorge is said to be 170 million years old.
The highlight of the tour, “Uryu no Taki” (Waterfall of the Dragon), is located at the back of this gorge. It is said that in the past, people could not easily approach this waterfall.
As we turned in the direction of the “Uryu-no-taki” sign, we heard a roaring sound and saw the waterfall over a small bridge.
We’re finally there!
The boardwalk ended there.
Surrounded on three sides by looming rocks, the waterfall falls with a roaring 20-meter drop. A large amount of water spewed out in multiple directions, hitting the rock surface and spreading out further, flowing under the bridge. The way the light shines into this closed, dark space from above is mysterious, even divine!
Mr. Inoue had told us that rainbows appear around 2 o’clock this time of year, but it was almost 3 o’clock when we arrived at Uryu-no-taki (waterfall). I was so busy with my duties as a photographer that I lost track of time. (;’∀’)
When the rainbow appeared in front of the splashing water, the space must have been flooded with light, and the divinity must have increased even more, as if the gods were descending.
(If we had left on schedule, wouldn’t we have made it in plenty of time?)
It was a pity that we missed the rainbow, but there were no other people except us, so we could monopolize “Uryu no Taki” by ourselves!
Watching the waterfalls roar down to a 20-meter drop while being splashed by the water is truly a powerful experience. We left the gorge with a video of a sight that I could not see in Kagawa Prefecture, where the mountains are shallow.
Countryside sushi was found on the menu at the izakaya “Don”！
At 6:30 p.m., we returned the car to the rental company with a full tank of gas (1,327 yen) and took a rest at Kochi Station. My daughter made a reservation at the izakaya “Don” through the reservation site “Hot Pepper” and we headed downtown.
It was the reopening day of Don, and the place was packed with customers. When I looked at the menu, I was surprised to see the “rumored” Ryukyu Sushi on it!
I was so glad that I finally found it here!
I ordered a few items right away and asked the waiter to bring the sushi last.
However, it took quite a long time for each dish to arrive, and we ended up having to give up three of the dishes we had ordered, as well as the eagerly awaited sushi.
Although, the only things we could eat were tempura of square bamboo, fried river shrimp, stewed beef with white miso, and lightly-fried tofu, and local vegetable salad, all of them were delicious and went well with beer.
As an apology, the manager gave us a discount of ￥800 for the appetizer, so we ended up with ￥3,430.
Since Go To Eat points worth 2,000 yen are given for meals eaten here, the calculated amount would be 1,430 yen. Feeling tipsy, I walked through the arcade and returned to the hotel. My daughter wouldn’t be tipsy just by one glass of beer though. She walked back to the guesthouse from there to get some exercise.
That’s a lot of work!
Tasting “Tataki” (Seared Bonito) at Hirome Market
Friday, October 16, the last day. Sunny then cloudy.
A little after ten in the morning, my daughter came to the hotel I was staying. First, I have to go to the Hirome Market and try the Ryujinmaru’s Tataki, seared bonito !
There are many different kinds of restaurants in the Hirome Market. The most common type of restaurants are those where you can easily eat at a table set up in front of the restaurant.
There is also a plaza with many tables. Each person buys his or her favorite dish and eats it at the table. The clean-up crew would take away your dishes so it is hassle-free.
The Ryujinmaru, famous for its straw-roasted bonito right in front of your eyes, is located in one of the plazas. We had a little time before the restaurant opened. We were the first in line to order bonito tataki with salt and soy sauce, and tempura of “aosa nori” (seaweed) from Shimanto River.
At the information center, I asked if there was a restaurant where I could eat square bamboo and dishes with Ryukyu, and they told me there might be one at the delicatessen nextdoor. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Ryukyu or country sushi that day, but they did have a pack of stewed square bamboo and Itadori, which I bought along with some rice! They’re both crispy and crunchy to the max!
We’ll have to wait until next time to try the country style sushi.
And finally, fresh “Dorome”. Raw whiting. Hmmm, satisfied, satisfied. Total: 2,770 yen.
Visiting the birthplace of persons of great influence in Tosa (Kochi prefecture)
Since I had already visited Kochi Castle, we skipped it and visited the remains of the birthplace of Itagaki Taisuke and Sakamoto Ryoma. But there were only stone monuments to prove it. The explanation reminds me of them in the past.
When I went to Katsurahama Beach on a school excursion in elementary school, I was overwhelmed by the Pacific Ocean in front of me, as I had only known the Seto Inland Sea. The ocean stretched out as far as I could see, and I was able to recognize the actual horizon. And that the earth is round.
Ryoma was on this beach, looking out at the far-off United States. This sea must have nurtured Ryoma’s progressive thinking and boldness of action.
I found myself walking quite a distance. Maybe it was the adrenaline, but I forgot about the pain in my legs. After taking a rest on a bench in front of the Ryoma Birthplace, we took the streetcar back to Harimayabashi, picked up our luggage from the hotel, and headed for Kochi Station.
On the way back, we took the “Yellow Anpanman Train”.
The express train “Nanpu No. 18” departed at 14:13, and to my surprise, the body of the train was wrapped with pictures of Anpanman characters. The creator of the comic strip Anpanman is the well-known Kochi native Takashi Yanase.
It has been a long time since the “Anpanman Train” was introduced, but I found out that the “Red Anpanman Train” and the “Yellow Anpanman Train” are operating between Okayama and Kochi. And frequently!
We took the “Yellow Anpanman Train”. The first car with the “Anpanman Seat” was filled with smiling children. The inside of the other cars were also wrapped with characters, which naturally brought a smile to our faces. One more happy memory was added.
This time, I took advantage of the campaign and was very satisfied with the trip despite the low budget. My daughter, who is a bit selfish, took care of me in many ways.
Thank you. Thank you!
We agreed that we’d like to see the Niyodo blue color of Nikobuchi next time.
I’m sure we’ll visit Kochi again next year to see the “Niyodo Blue.