ARRIVAL IN KÔCHI
Monday, November 30, I leave Oboke and the Valley of Iya around 10am. After a good hour of train I arrived at Kochi in the south of Shikoku Island. The weather is wonderful. Being too early to have access to my room, I leave my bag at the hotel’s luggage room and leave to visit the city.
At first sight Kochi is very similar to Tokushima (from an architectural point of view), but there is a feeling of “more of the South”. Located on the Kagami river delta (which means “Mirror”, the water of the river being particularly pure), Kôchi saw the birth of a number of samurai and daimyo who returned to the history and whose statues can be seen everywhere. The city is also the birthplace of Anpanman, a character created by Takashi Yanase in 1969 and whose animated TV series is still extremely successful.
Anpanman’s head is a small bread , called anpan ( lang = “ja” title = “Japanese”> ア ン パ ン) stuffed with the anko , a paste of red beans sweet base for traditional Japanese confectionery . The original character sacrificed himself to feed hungry people. All his companions also have an edible head associated with their name.
Apparently the city must also have the roster for emblem, since I see small statues and drawings of roosters and hens everywhere. There is even a sanctuary that seems to me to be dedicated to them with lots of free rosters.
I head for Kochi Castle: Kochi-Jo. It is one of the few castles still possess its original tenshu-kaku (dungeon) and measuring 18.5 meters high. It was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Yamanouchi Katsutoyo during the reign of Tokugawa. It was never attacked.
The castle is absolutely beautiful. Many buildings surround the castle overlooking Kochi on a small hill. The visit of the interior delighted me because unlike Hiwasa Castle, the interior is still intact: traditional tatami rooms, wooden floors, sliding doors … Objects of the time are stored in small rooms You can see the kimonos worn by the samurai of the time (including Yamanouchi Katsutoyo), beautiful wood carvings, pottery and an old norimono (Japanese palanquin).
The ascent of the dungeon (using steep stairs) allows us to observe different models and staging of life at the time. On the top floor the view of the city bathed in sunshine is offered to me. I stay up a long time enjoying the sun and the peaceful atmosphere.
Sounds of Kôchi – In the castle courtyard:
DISCOVERY OF THE AREAS
For the second day in Kochi, the sun is still there. Having decided to go see the surroundings, I go to the station buy a bus ticket valid all day. Two young men are dressed in samurai costumes, invite people to return to visit film sets located next door, where many dramas (television series) are produced. Looking at the posters of dramas, I realize that the two young men are actually the actors of the series! One of the two, very friendly asks me what I’m going to see and brings me a small guide in English with explanations.
First stop on the route: Godaisan Park a few kilometers east of the center of Kôchi, located at the top of a hill and which allows me to have a nice point of view of Kochi below.
I continue on foot to join the Chikurin-ji temple located within walking distance. The place is calm, it is perfectly relaxing. The birds make their twittering on all sides and the trees show their pretty autumn colors. The surroundings of the temple are filled with tombs. I wander for a moment between them, letting me invade by a feeling of absolute peace.
Sounds of Kôchi – Godaisan park:
Chikurin-ji Temple is the 31st pilgrimage temple of the 88 temples of Shikoku. It was built in 1644. The temple consists of a five-storey pagoda, a Monjudo (main hall) dedicated to Bodhisattva Monju Bosatsu, Daishi-do Hall dedicated to Kobo Daishi (to the origin of the pilgrimage), an old guesthouse, landscaped gardens (in Japanese style) and a Treasury Pavilion in which there are twenty or so Buddhist sculptures from the Heian and Kamakura periods.
The pagoda is very beautiful but it is the Monjudo that particularly holds my attention. The structure is really beautiful and strips of colorful fabrics are hung from the ceiling. The visit of the guesthouse is interesting since a family is preparing a traditional Japanese wedding. I see the bride wearing an all-white kimono with a large headdress on her head.
I then visit the Makino Botanical Garden. This is home to a tropical greenhouse that contains an impressive number of Orchids all more beautiful than the others. </ P>
During my walk in the rest of the botanical park, I come upon a little weasel who lets herself be photographed before taking refuge in her burrow. It had been a long time since I had seen one! The park is also extremely quiet and despite the lack of flowers it remains beautiful. I do not know if it’s the sun that does that, but I find Kochi and its surroundings particularly beautiful and pleasant!
Meal in the park then head to Katsurahama Beach 13km south of Kochi center. Thirty minutes of bus ride later and here I am in front of the Sakamoto Ryôma memorial museum located on the hill overlooking the beach. Local hero, Sakamoto Ryôma is a samurai politician who played a key role in the Meiji Restoration as he managed to reconcile the Satsuma and Chôshû clans resulting in the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
I go down quietly among the pines to reach the beach. A small aquarium diffuse a little sad music known to attract visitors. I go to see the small Ryou shrine located on a rock that sinks into the sea. It is the end of the afternoon, the light is very beautiful.
I walk along the beach, to sit on a small dike made of rocks for several minutes to enjoy the sea and the tranquility of the evening that comes. The return bus to Kochi takes an hour during which I surrender to the arms of Morpheus. I walk a little more in downtown Kochi where I come across a clock that comes alive every hour. That’s good, it’s 6pm sharp. Carillon, music and appearance of tourist places and famous people. The little show is very nice.
I then go back to the hotel. This visit of Kochi was very satisfactory. I would have liked to stay a few more days. But tomorrow a long day’s journey awaits me: I take the bus in the morning to join Matsuyama located in the north-west of Shikoku from where I take a ferry in the afternoon to reach Hiroshima.