jump to navigation

Route 197 & 320 (Kochi to Ozu, via Uwajima) June 30, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Shikoku, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Route 197 & 320 (Kochi to Ozu, via Uwajima)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-c5

There are two routes to reach the west coast of Shikoku, from Kochi.  The most famous is to take route 56, a continuation of route 55, from Kochi all the way to Matsuyama.  The other less travelled route is to cut across the island and take route 197 and reconnect to route 56.  To reach Matsuyama in one day, you will probably have to cut across the southern cape, or else you would have to skip a lot of places.  Travelling along route 197 is a very nice trip.  This road cuts through the mountains allowing you to see very small villages along the way.  There are a few places selling local fruits and food, but other than that, there isn’t much to see.  When route 197 reaches 320, you will be in the town of Kihoku.  It is a town that is very easy to miss, but I was lucky to arrive during a small festival.  There were typical festival foods, but only a little.  It is a great way to see how small town Japan lives.  It isn’t that special and easy to see in a few minutes.  Route 320 is also the same, cutting through the mountains until you reach Uwajima.  Uwajima is a small city that, like most cities in Shikoku, has its own castle.  It is also slightly infamous for its own temple devoted to the phallus.  I didn’t spend any time in this city, so unfortunately, I’m not sure if there is anything of interest here.

Ozu is a very small city that normally has nothing of interest.  The downtown area closes very early, and there are very few shops left.  It is a victim of big box shops coming in and strangling the mom and pop businesses.  Driving down the main shopping street feels like a ghost town.  Shutters are closed and very few people are around.  While this is true, the town itself is very beautiful.  If you are looking for something to do from Matsuyama, Ozu is a great place for a day trip.  However, heading to Uchiko, or Uwajima is probably easier.  Even the hotel staff in Ozu can’t really speak English, however they are still helpful.

Ozu has a few things of interest, and almost all of them are easy to reach on foot.  The first thing to see is the river.  There is a pedestrian walkway along the river.  There are usually a bunch of families and students out on the water enjoying themselves on the weekends.  The river walk will take you to the back entrance of Ozu-jo.  As I said, Shikoku has many castles.  This castle is even smaller than Kochi, but the castle grounds are wonderful.  You can see the biggest water well in Japan, or so they say, and some huge trees next to the castle.  There is a beautiful garden and a nice grassy area to relax on.  All of this is free, however, entrance into the castle itself isn’t.  If you are backpacking, there is a youth hostel behind the castle that looked very nice.  I would have stayed here, but I didn’t know it existed.

Route 56 cuts through the middle of Ozu.  The castle is located on one side, and the old town is located on the other.  The old town has many activities that any other small Japanese town has.  It is also an area where you can see the old style of Japanese homes.  This is very similar to Naramachi in Nara, but not as grand.  They also have a large red brick building, but unfortunately, when I arrived, it was after 5pm and everything was closed.  From anywhere in Ozu, you can see Mount Tomisu.  It is a small mountain that overlooks the town.  It is very beautiful as there is a large garden at the top.  It was highly recommended to me by the hotel staff, but you do have to drive there.  Ozu is not a friendly place if you don’t have a great map, or navigation.  It’s easy to get turned around and lost.  However, I would definitely recommend visiting this city, as almost any other city I have been to in Shikoku.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Advertisements

Kochi June 23, 2009

Posted by Dru in Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Kochi” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/s2liAm-kochi

Kochi is a small city located on the south coast of Shikoku.  It is well known throughout Japan that the people of Kochi drink the most out of any other Japanese area.  Due to the location of this city, very few people ever visit this town, and most people are either locals, or Japanese people.  Tourists tend to be few and far between.  In fact, most cities in the south of Shikoku can be considered difficult for any foreigner who cannot speak Japanese; like any other non-English speaking city, you can always get by with hand signals and gestures.

The first thing you will notice about Kochi is the low skyline, fresh air, and lack of transportation.  It is very much a car centric city.  Public transportation relies on buses or trams.  The downtown core is where most people will want to spend their time.  It provides a great place to find good restaurants and do a little shopping.  Being well known for drinking, you will probably find more pubs and restaurants than anything else.  The downtown core has three main attractions.  Going to the main intersection, where the two tram lines meet, you can be entertained every hour by a clock.  Every hour, you can watch a special show where figures come out and dance to a tune.  Adjacent to the clock is a small park with a man made stream.  It is a very nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main street.  It is also the location of Harimayabashi.  It is a wooden bridge that is the title of the 2009 movie of the same name, “The Harimaya Bridge”.  This will probably provide a lot of tourism dollars for Kochi itself, and the bridge will also become a major tourist attraction.  Unfortunately, it may no longer be the tranquil place it once was.

The main attraction within the downtown area is Kochi-jo.  It is Kochi’s white castle, located on the western edge of the downtown core.  The grounds of Kochi-jo are not as magnificent as Himeji, but they are still very beautiful.  Unfortunately, I visited Kochi in May, and the flowers and shrubs hadn’t started blooming yet.  I have heard that it is more beautiful during the summer months than in the spring.  Upon reaching the main courtyard, you will be graced with a nice view of the city, but it isn’t the best view of the city.  Instead, head for the inner courtyard to see the main building.  It looks relatively small and simple.  It is a very simple castle that can be explored very quickly.  You must pay to enter the castle, but I thought it was worth the entry.  It is very cool inside and there aren’t too many people.  You can essentially get parts of the castle to yourself.  At times, there are volunteers explaining how the castle was used in the past, but do note that they tend to be retired people who probably don’t speak any English.  If you have ever visited Himeji, you will remember how boring the inside of the castle was.  Kochi realizes that looking at a castle can be boring, so they added several dioramas.  These range from depictions of Kochi in past times to how Kochi was a whaling city.  They provide an interesting snapshot into the history of the people from Kochi.

Godaisan is a small mountain located within the city, but too far to reach on foot or bicycle.  There are some busses that do go up the mountain, but they are infrequent.  The easiest way to reach this area of Kochi is to drive.  When you reach Godaisan, you will have to drive up a steep and narrow road.  This road, thankfully, is only one way.  The first place you can stop is the Godaisan Park.  It is a very nice hillside park that gives great views of Kochi city.  I would highly recommend a quick visit and climb to the lookout point.  The lookout point is easy to find.  It is atop the main building in the park.  You can also look back to the mountain and see the peak of the pagoda of Chikurinji.  Walking to Chikurinji from the park is very easy, but the path can be a little difficult to find if you aren’t looking in the right area.  You can also walk along the street, but because it’s so narrow, I don’t recommend it.  Chikurinji is the 31st temple along the 88 temple pilgrimage of Shikoku.  It is a very nice temple that feels very secluded.  The entrance near the park is the back entrance.  From here, you will be able to see some of the disused areas of the temple, and some of the graves.  The main attraction of this temple is the pagoda.  It is a typical Japanese style pagoda.  The temple and other areas of the temple are not particularly special either, but it is a significant temple in Kochi.  Next to the temple is the Makino Botanical Garden.  It is a very nice garden, but be aware that many schools in the Kochi area visit this garden on school trips, so it may not be as peaceful as you’d like.

My overall impression of Kochi is of a small city with a small town feel.  It is very beautiful and a place I could return to.  It is easy to relax, and there is a beach that isn’t too far away.  If you ever have a chance, I would recommend heading to Kochi to get away from everything in Japan.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Route 55 (Tokushima to Kochi, via Muroto) June 16, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Shikoku, Travel.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Route 55 (Tokushima to Kochi, via Muroto)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-c1

For the first full day of my motorcycle adventure, I travelled down from Tokushima to Kochi.  It was over 200kms for my first day of riding.  The first part was very boring.  When you drive in Japan, the cities are places you want to skip.  There isn’t anything to really see.  You just go from light to light seeing nothing new.  It took about an hour to get outside of Tokushima and its surrounding suburbs.  Once out of the city, things got smaller, yet more scenic.  Things didn’t become interesting until I reached the small town of Hiwasa.  This is a very small town located about two hours along route 55.  It is so small that you will be in and out of this town in less than 10 minutes.  There are only a few things to do in this town.  The main point of interest is to visit Yakuouji Temple.  This is built right next to the highway, and up a mountain.  There are many steep steps to reach the temple.  I found it to be an interesting temple for its location and how it was built, but the art and basic design wasn’t any different than any other temple in Japan.  There is also a small castle in this town and a few beaches where you can relax and enjoy yourself.  It is a good place to stretch your legs a bit if you are travelling this way.

From Hiwasa, I would recommend leaving route 55 and heading down route 147.  This is a very small road, and the entrance is very easy to miss.  It is just past the temple, which can’t be missed.  This road follows the coastline more than route 55.  There are several mountains along this part of the coast making road construction difficult.  Route 55 heads to the north side of these mountains making it easier to drive.  However, the views from route 147 are wonderful and you’ll be graced with various types of corners.  This is more for drivers to enjoy.  There are also several different lookouts, but after one or two, they tend to look the same.  Heading further along route 55, there isn’t much to see.  However, there are many beaches, dams, and other things to see.  If you are travelling along anywhere in Japan, there is one easy way to know if there is something interesting to see.  The government tries to help local communities attract more tourists by promoting local attractions.  On the road, you will see a large white sign with blue lettering.  This is almost always something of interest.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always really interesting, so if you are driving around in Japan, beware that some sites may be worth a pass.

The main tourist attraction along route 55 is Muroto.  It is the southern most point of the highway.  Shikoku has two capes in the south.  Muroto is the western one.  It is very easy to drive in and out of Muroto.  There isn’t much to this cape.  However, it is a great place to stop and spend at least an hour.  There are a few places to take pictures, and the seawater is extremely clear.  The first thing you will see, coming from Tokushima, is a giant statue of a Buddhist monk.  Once you pass this large Buddhist monk, you will soon reach the tip of the cape.  There are a few places to park, but once you park, it’s a short two minute hike to the waterfront.  The waterfront if full of rocks that can make it difficult to walk around.  However, because of the remoteness of the cape, it is extremely peaceful.  There are only a handful of people around at any time.  I would highly recommend a dip in the water, but beware that you’ll need your bathing suit at the cape.  There are too many people around to go skinny dipping.  If you have time, you can also head up the mountain at the cape and take a look at the lighthouse.  It is the largest lighthouse in Japan and it can be seen from over 50kms away.  The views from the lighthouse must also be very nice.

After passing the cape, there isn’t too much to see.  The road follows the entire coastline up to Kochi.  The coast is very beautiful and worth the drive, however, there isn’t too much to do along this part of the road.  If you have a chance to rent a car and travel down this way, I highly recommend that you should do it.  You will have a wonderful day trip.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

%d bloggers like this: