Friday, June 3, 2011

The importance of being rural

Expat Column No.5

When I first arrived in Kochi three years ago, I had no idea what to expect, apart from the rice fields and beaches I had read about in guidebooks. Since Kochi is blessed with both fertile farmland and a sea rich in sustenance, I was not surprised to find a great deal of high quality, delicious food from both land and water.

However, I was surprised to find very few tourists eating it. In a region with long hot summers to while away on long white beaches with palm trees, the highest mountains in western Japan to scale, and wild untouched rivers to challenge even the most skilled white water enthusiast, it was a surprise to find most of these natural facilities underused.

In a country like UK, even the shortest stretch of sand, the most meager hills and dribbling rivers are used to the max, when the perennial rain stays away. Why, then is Kochi not the Hawaii of Japan that it should be?

Ponder this one when you try to navigate the two-and-a-half hour drive to the best beaches that lie a mere 110km to the west of Kochi city. Where is the money from the central government to continue the freeway out west? It is with a sense of betrayal that most Kochi people look at their politicians “representing” them in the diet in ever-richer Tokyo. I think I would feel betrayed too…

Taken from vol.13 (September, 2006. Travel in Shikoku outside of Kochi!)

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