Kochi Is Japan’s Hidden Gem With Plenty of Instagrammable Spots  — Here Are Some Trip Ideas - 8 Days Skip to main content

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Kochi Is Japan’s Hidden Gem With Plenty of Instagrammable Spots  — Here Are Some Trip Ideas

Think of it as Japan’s best-kept secret.
Kochi Is Japan’s Hidden Gem With Plenty of Instagrammable Spots  — Here Are Some Trip Ideas

With Japan opening to individual travellers from Oct 11, travel-starved individuals are probably enthusiastically checking out tickets to well-known destinations like Tokyo, Osaka or Hokkaido. But if you’ve been to these places before, why not try something different and consider somewhere off the beaten path like Kochi?

One of four prefectures on the quaint island of Shikoku, southern-based Kochi is well loved by locals for its natural beauty, crystal-clear rivers, tasty local dishes, and hospitable spirit. And it’s easily accessible from major cities too — flying in from Tokyo takes just slightly over an hour.

Most importantly, Kochi is a highly instagrammable place with plenty of fun activities to keep you occupied. So if you’re game to explore the road less travelled, charming Kochi is the place to be — here are our top camera-ready picks.

#1: Snap OOTDs at Izuma Sunflower Field

Talk about the perfect OOTD spot (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

While Japan may be famous for dainty cherry blossoms, her fields of gold are just as spectacular. And in the town of Izuma, Tosa City, the vibrant sunflowers bloom twice a year. Visit from late June to early July to witness what locals refer to as ‘early blooming sunflowers’ along the Hage River — they tend to be taller and more impressive.

Postcard-perfect views at Izuma Sunflower Field (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Just imagine the glorious OOTDs you can take here with more than 100,000 vibrant yellow blooms, juxtaposed with Kochi’s beautiful waters and mountains.

#2: Admire the Kamikuki peach blossoms

The Kamikuki district in Niyodogawa Town is famed for its peach blossoms (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

An hour’s drive away from Kochi, the Kamikuki district in Niyodogawa Town is home to around a thousand peach flower trees that paint the mountains in breathtaking hues of red, white and pink from late March to early April. This peach blossom paradise will definitely have you eagerly snapping away for phone wallpapers, #nofilter needed.

Things are looking peachy at the Kamikuki district (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

The view of village houses and tea fields peeking through the dreamy blooms adds to the charm of the community-driven floral display too. Fun fact: Local residents spent more than a decade caring for these peach trees, in hopes the spectacular spring marvel they’ve created will revitalise the area.

Hyotan Sakura Park (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Can’t get enough of peach blossoms? No problem — Hyotan Sakura Park is a short 20-minute drive away.

#3: Enjoy blue-tiful scenery at this Greek-inspired resort

Villa Santorini (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

No need to catch a flight to Greece for quintessential Santorini vibes — you can replicate the experience at Villa Santorini in Tosa City, Kochi. In fact, friends may think you’re holidaying on a Greek island after seeing your social media updates at the villa with its whitewashed Cycladic architecture and blue dome-shaped roofs.

A slice of Greece in Japan (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

And be sure to pack your finest resort wear. Not only are there countless photo  opportunities at every corner, the stunning resort boasts sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean too.

#4: Immerse in art at Iwamoto-ji Temple

Originally built around 729~749, the art-loving temple is part of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage, one of Japan’s most famous pilgrimage routes. And it’s far from your ordinary place of worship.

Be sure to look up when you visit Iwamoto-ji Temple (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Visitors flock to this historic temple to check out the ceiling of its main hall, where 575 paintings donated by artists all over Japan can be found. Spot artwork featuring religion and nature, as well as more unusual ones inspired by French Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and even Marilyn Monroe.

Unwind and chill out at Iwamoto-ji Temple

While you’re there, make the most of your day and explore the vicinity too. A variety of unique experiences are available — think sake tasting, wagashi-making (traditional Japanese sweets) and Buddhist spiritual training along the nearby Shimanto River. Before you leave, get yourself an omikuji fortune as a souvenir. They take the shape of the Japanese zodiac animal for the year, and contain humourous puns related to the animal.

Traditional shukubo-style lodging refreshed with lively art (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Wanna immerse yourself further? Shukubo-style accommodations — or traditional temple lodgings — are available for reservations and come with sauna facilities for an invigorating stay. Or if you’d like to experience something a little more unusual, try booking the pop-art inspired room. It’s the only one at the establishment spruced up by Tokyo-based artist Sheta.

#5: Spot colourful marine life from a glass-bottom boat

Tatsukushi Marine Park

Ever wanted to explore the coral reef and admire tropical fish without having to dive and going through the hassle of getting yourself wet?

Learn a thing or two from the captain during the glass boat tour

Go for a glass boat tour at Tatsukushi Marine Park, where you’ll be able to glide through pristine waters and enjoy amazing views of marine life from the glass floor of the boat. As you whip out your cameras, feel free to ask the knowledgeable tour captain about the native species that dwell in the marine park.

#6: Go hiking at Cape Ashizuri

Expansive views at Cape Ashizuri (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Is the earth round or flat? Judge for yourself when you visit the southernmost point of Shikoku. The 270-degree view from Cape Ashizuri’s observation deck allows visitors to witness for themselves the Earth’s curvature. 

Cape Ashizuri Lighthouse (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

There, you’ll also find Cape Ashizuri Lighthouse standing tall and overlooking the azure Pacific Ocean — it is one of the largest lighthouses in Japan and the symbol of the cape.

And if you love a challenging hike, there’s a two-kilometre hiking trail that snakes  through the rugged landscape of Cape Ashizuri. An abundance of subtropical plants grow along the cape, along with many variants of lush camellia — the best time to see them in full bloom is February.

#7: Witness ‘Niyodo Blue’ at Yasui Gorge

Shades of autumn at Yasui Gorge (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Yasui Gorge is one of the major spots in Kochi for viewing autumn foliage, as the red and golden leaves contrast dramatically with the famously bright blue waters of the river.

Yasui Gorge (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Speaking of which, Yasui Gorge is one of the best places in Kochi to experience the Niyodo Blue phenomenon. We’re talking about water so clear and clean, it  sports a deep turquoise shade that looks almost unreal as it sparkles under the sun.

Surrounded by moss-covered cliffs, craggy boulders and ancient forests, the water in Yasui Gorge - which stretches for approximately 10 kilometres - is so clear that you can see the stones on the riverbed.

Here, you’ll also have to check out the Mikaeri no Taki and Hiryu no Taki waterfalls, as well as the Suishobuchi (literally translates to ‘crystal deep’), where the incredible clarity of the waters makes the stones beneath look like shining jewels.

#8: Explore an ancient castle

Kochi Castle (Photo: Visit Kochi Japan)

Keep an eye out for all of the intricate details of the castle architecture, like the statues of the legendary shachi sea creatures (half fish, half dragon) gazing down on the city from the roof. After exploring the grounds, don’t forget to stop by the Kochi Castle Museum of History, located right across the street. Dive deep into the region’s past through the 67,000 historical materials and artwork on display.

IG-worthy views at Kochi Castle (Photo: Takuya Hosogi)

Did we mention that the historic site is buzzing with activity all year round too? During springtime, visitors flock to the gardens to admire the soft pink cherry blossoms in full bloom. Along with colourful lanterns swaying in the evening breeze, the ethereal flowers look particularly stunning against the backdrop of the ancient stone walls. Should you visit during the winter, check out their annual light installation event, where the walls of the castles come alive with vivid projections. This year’s event, Art+ + Kochi Castle, will be held from Dec 2 to Jan 29, 2023. Check out Visit Kochi’s website, Facebook page or Instagram account for the latest updates.

Or if you'd like a slice of Kochi in Singapore, head to Tarte by Cheryl Koh — Kochi prefecture is collaborating with the homegrown pastry chef to create two desserts made using yuzu from Kochi prefecture. Savour the yuzu meringue tart, with silky yuzu curd topped with Italian meringue. Or try the yuzu sugar sphere, a delectable plate of variations of yuzu encased in a crisp sugar sphere. Both desserts will be sold at Tarte by Cheryl Koh from Oct 8 until Nov 7.

Keen to find out more about all that Kochi has to offer? Head on down to the Discover Kochi Japan event on Oct 29 at Workcentral (Singapore Shopping Centre). More info here.

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