BY BRIAN LOTTINO from USA, Kochi City ex- CIR
As cliché as it is, I have another “I wanted to go to the big city, but I’m glad I got sent here” story. In my case it was the Kobe-Osaka area that I wanted to go to at first. When I first heard I was going to Kochi, I was not upset because I thought it was close enough that I could go there whenever I wanted. Of course, the reality of the 8 hour ¥10000 return bus ride quickly squelched any such hope.
Before coming to Kochi I asked my Japanese friends about it, and the response was always the same: “It’s in the middle of nowhere. Katsuo-tataki is good. They have lots of nature stuff.” Yet when I looked in the brochure I received, I saw things like: Pop. 330,000, and pictures of a sprawling city. I didn’t understand how a city with a population of 330,000 could be considered “inaka.”
Now I understand fully. People that are not from Kochi call Kochi “inaka” as a tease or an insult, and people from Kochi accept it as such. But I don’t think that is necessary. True, Kochi is not the most convenient city in Japan, but being where it is has kept it from destruction.
Kochi has some of the best food, drinking water, air quality, ocean scenery, waterfalls, rivers, forests, and satellite islands in Japan. Maybe not so much because these features are particularly beautiful compared to other regions in Japan, but because they are largely untouched by the defiling hands of litterers and trampling feet of mass tourism.
I am very glad I came to Kochi first for this reason. I have my own place to escape to whenever I want to take a break from the hectic city. If you are curious about where I have been you can take a look at my online pictures at www.flickr.com/photos/tensaiwombat (Kochi-ken set). So will I miss Kochi? Probably not. But only because I’ll be back.
Taken from vol.19 (August & September, 2007. Animals and Insects in Kochi)