Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The view of Kashiwajima is absolutely breathtaking.

What is Kashiwajima like?

   Kashiwajima is located off the southwest coast of Otsuki Town in Kochi Prefecture. It is a small island with a circumference of only 3.9km. In the surrounding waters where the Kuroshio Current and Bungo Channel converge live over 1000 species of fish including unrecorded species and some found for the first time in Japan. Though it is located extremely close to human civilization, the sea here boasts the most species of fish in all of Japan. The clarity of the water is also very high, attracting many visitors to fish and dive. The beautiful waters and rich natural environment is the pride of this island.

“The whole island is a museum” ~Kuroshio Zikkan Center~

Dr. Kanda told us about the ocean, as
well as funny stories of his experiences
in foreign countries.
   The Kuroshio Zikkan Center was founded in 2002 as a non-profit organization by its Director, Dr. Masaru Kanda, a Kochi Cityborn marine specialist. Having been charmed by the beauty of Kashiwajima, he is currently endeavoring to protect this scenery for future generations.
   The idea of this experiential center is that the whole island and its surrounding ocean is a natural museum, and together with local citizens they promote activities to foster 1) wholehearted understanding and appreciation of nature; 2) protection of both nature and people’s livelihood; and 3) an environment where people and the ocean can harmoniously coexist together, a concept Dr. Kanda calls “Sato-Umi (literally translated: home ocean).”
   Every summer, they hold Summer Schools for children only and children with their parents, and Eco Tours for adults. Participants learn not only about the ocean and its creatures but also about the land and mountains to raise awareness for the need of environmental protection in all respects. “Sato-Umi Seminars” are also held proactively to report latest research results. The Center has been recognized for its dedicated efforts and has been awarded the “Ryoma Award”—an award given to an individual or group that could possibly produce the next Ryoma Sakamoto, chosen each year by Kochi’s twelve media companies—as well as the Ministry of Environment’s “Ecotourism Award.”

The story behind the Kuroshio Zikkan Center logo

   The Kuroshio Zikkan Center logo was designed by Mr. Makoto Umebara, a renowned designer from Kochi City who Dr. Kanda respects greatly. When Dr. Kanda asked Mr. Umebara to design the Center’s logo, he was met by a single question, “Your ‘whole island museum,’ where are you looking at it from?” The answer produced a view of the island—represented by a green oval—seen from the ocean with swimming blue fish. It is a simple logo of two colors, but it conveys the Center’s concept well.

Recommended Activites

   Snorkeling, understandably, is the most popular activity here, but why not try something different? Like clear canoeing! The floor of the canoe is clear, so you can see an aquarium of a view just by looking down. Watch schools of fish swim by or find colorful species you have never seen before amongst different types of coral. The fish you can see changes everyday. On a calm day with no wind and unclouded waters, you can look directly into the water and see clearly to the ocean floor! Just be careful of looking down for too long as you may start feeling a tad seasick. Look up once in a while to enjoy the beautiful mountain views too. Dr. Kanda’s recommendation is the sunset cruise; he says nothing beats having a drink while watching the sun set and seeing a multitude of stars appear. Ocean activities can be enjoyed from spring until autumn.

It is exciting to see ocean creatures you have never seen
before. If you are lucky, you could encounter wild dolphins.

Volunteer Activities

   At Kuroshio Zikkan Center, where they provide training programs for groups like JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) participants, they manage to communicate with simple English and body language. They are hoping to bring in more foreign visitors, and are looking to expand their volunteer base with people who speak Japanese and another language to interpret during activities for these visitors.
Ryu-no-hama beach, where we did clear canoeing. You will
be surprised how clear the water is!

Kashiwajima’s local dishes
You cannot stop eating “Satsuma-jiru.”

   In the winter, winds get so strong that seagulls are blown backward in flight and people are unable to go to sea. However, Kashiwajima’s allure is not just the ocean. You can learn from the locals how to make unique dishes using Kashiwajima’s freshest catches. “Koushi-meshi” is a homely dish with menori seaweed and takuan pickles mixed into rice flavored with soy sauce and sugar. It is said that the name blurred from “Toshikoshi-meshi,” meaning food eaten before midnight of New Years. There is also “Satsuma-jiru,” made from the shredded meat of fried or raw horse mackerel mixed with ingredients like barley miso and peanuts, and thinned with stock taken from the bones of the mackerel. Enjoy it atop a bowl of rice! Perhaps our favorite was the “Tai-chazuke,” fresh sea bream marinated in a special sauce and placed upon steaming white rice and made into a chazuke by pouring hot tea over it. While learning to make these delightful dishes, this experience is also a wonderful chance to converse with local residents.

Getting to Kashiwajima (from Kochi City)

Public transportation: From Kochi Station, take the express JR train to Sukumo Station (approx. 2hr 15min). It is a 40-minute car ride from there (if you are taking the bus, be sure to check the current time table in advance as they are infrequent).
Car: Approx. 3hr 30min. Take Route 56 west until you reach Sukumo City, then turn onto Route 321 toward Ashizuri/Tosashimizu. Turn right onto Route 43 toward Kashiwajima. Follow this road for about 17km.

Kuroshio Zikkan Center
Location: 625 Kashiwajima, Otsuki Town,  
Hata District, Kochi Prefecture 788-0343
TEL: 0880-62-8022 FAX: 0880-62-8023
E-mail: kuroshio@divers.ne.jp
Website: http://www.orquesta.org/kuroshio/

Please see a map below.  

View Larger Map

No comments:

Post a Comment