Friday, August 31, 2012

Three things for which I’m proud of Kochi

Kochi is a paradise for sake drinkers
   It is often said that Kochi is well known for its sake (Japanese rice wine) production and consumption, and people outside think Kochi people are heavy drinkers.When I lived in Tokyo, people often teased me by saying “you must drink a lot because you are from Kochi”! I tried to keep up with the reputation and at first tried to drink a lot. After a while people recognized that I was not a big drinker and that such a stereotyped perception didn’t apply to me. But indeed it seems to me that many Kochi’s citizens drink a lot.

Kochi’s Hidden Village

   Thanks to amalgamations, there are now even more great places within Kochi’s city limits. One of these is former Tosayama village. A close friend of mine lives in a converted farmhouse in the town, and so I have the pleasure of visiting the area 2 or 3 times a month. Despite being only 30mins from the city, it’s as if you’ve entered a different world!
   Whether I sit by the headwaters of the Kagami river reading, or spend hours soaking in the Tosayama Auberge onsen, I am always refreshed by the trip. I’ve been particularly impressed by the active community around the Nakagawa area. Facing up to a declining population, they plan various events and try to revitalize their town. Deciding that the town needed a hotel, they convinced a company to set up the Tosayama Auberge hotel.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


   “MY-yuu-Bus” is a tourist bus operating between JR Kochi station and Mt. Godaisan and Katsurahama. You can use this service to visit the Makino Botanical Gardens, the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum, and Katsurahama. The daypass also gets you discounts at some hotels and museums, etc. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Haruno Athletic Park

   This must be Kochi’s largest athletic park. Located in former Haruno Town, it boasts various facilities for sports, such as a stadium, track and field facilities, a big gymnasium, tennis courts, a shooting range, and a swimming pool.

Desuka IC Card

Image of the Desuka IC card
   Starting from Jan. 25 in 2009, the Desuka IC card, a new public transportation payment system, is available on buses and tramcars in Kochi City and several other municipalities around the city. Passengers with the IC card are able to pay the fare without worrying about having to carry change.

Museums of Ryoma

Here are brief explanations about three museums in Kochi about Ryoma.
Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum
Houses easy-to-understand exhibits of valuable historical documents about Ryoma and explanations of his personality, achievements and his visions. The building is located near the Katsurahama beach and the observatory lends a panoramic view of the horizon and Pacific Ocean.
Open: 9a.m- 5p.m.
Directions: Get on a Kenkotsu bus bound for Katsurahama, then get off the Ryoma Kinenkan-mae stop and then walk one minute.
Entrance fee: ¥500 for 18 and older, free for high school and younger students, ¥400 for groups of 20 and over
HP: (in English)
TEL: 088-841-0001

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Temple Ghosts

   Once upon a time in the west of Kochi was a sad village – home to a haunted temple. One day, a monk came walking through the town, looking for a place to rest. The villagers told him of the temple, but warned him not to go. However, the monk insisted, and went to the strange temple.

The Witch in the Cauldron

   Once upon a time there was a man named Asakichi living in Yasu Town. One day on a winter’s evening, as he made his way home with a bunch of freshly-picked radishes strapped to the back of his horse, he suddenly noticed that a witch with long, white shoulder-length hair was clinging to his horse’s hindquarters.

The Mountain Witch and the Rice Balls

   A poor man named Seibei once lived in what is now Tsuno Town. Despite being very poor, every new-year he made sure he had enough money to make rice balls for his children to eat.

Shirikire Kannon

   Long long ago in a small village, a woman named Otera Baasan (the old lady of the temple) died unexpectedly. Otera Baasan liked to visit temples and could always be seen praying to Amida Buddha. So she was buried along with many Buddhist invocation tablets. That same day, a young man named Hachi also unexpectedly died.

White-Ben, Black-Ben

   There once lived a man named Shinjiro Nishiyama in a solitary house at Gongendaba in the Yamada area of Sukumo. Shinjiro liked hunting and had two dogs whose names were Whit Ben and Black Ben respectively.

Enko Sumo

   The frog-like, turtle-like water goblin known as the kappa features in folk tales from all over Japan, including Kochi, but here they are also known as enko. Legend has it that one of these enko used to inhabit the Iyoki River south of Kubokawa.

   One day, some children went to the river and called, “Enko, enko, come out! We’ll give you cucumbers!” Enko absolutely love cucumbers, so it came up out of the water. After giving it some cucumber and eggplant, the children challenged the enko to a sumo wrestling match. The enko was small – about the size of a 5-year-old child – but used its quickness, slipperiness, and incredible strength to easily beat all the children.

Yokoyama Memorial Manga Museum

   This museum was completed in the Kochi City Bunka Plaza “Culport” in 2002 in order to commemorate the achievements of Ryuichi Yokoyama (1909-2001). It exhibits a variety of his works including one of his best known characters, “Fuku-chan”.

Open: 9:00am-6:00pm
Closed: Mondays (unless Mon is a national or substitute holiday), Dec.28-Jan. 4
Access: Get off at Saenba tramcar station, and then walk 3min.
Fee: Adults 400yen, 65 years and over 200yen, SHS and under free
Inquiries: TEL088-883-5029
HP: (English)

Taken from vol.30 PDF

Koshin Manga Dojo & Kuroshio Manga Taisho

   Do you regularly read the Kochi Newspaper? Each month, they have a manga column, called “Koshin Manga Dojo,” to which readers can contribute their own manga. This special column was started in February 1987 for amateur manga writers who wanted to put their skills to the test.

Manga characters for railway stations

   Did you know that each station along the Gomen-Nahari line has its own manga character? Each character was designed byYanase Takashi – who is famous as the creator of Anpan-Man – and reflects something of the culture or produce of the area around the station. Let’s take a look at two characters that I find interesting. First is ‘Noichindonman’ at Noichi Station.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yanase Takashi & Anpan-Man Museum

   Anybody living in Japan is bound to run into Anpan-Man sooner or later. As his name would suggest, this superhero is made out of Anpan: bean-jam-filled bread.
   First appearing in a picture book in 1973, he was made into a television cartoon in 1988, and has been loved by all Japan for nearly 40 years. He is a kind, strong warrior for justice who flies through the sky, battles the evil bacteria Baikin Man, and gives pieces of his own delicious body to the hungry.

Yuko Yamaguchi (Kitty’s third generation designer)

   Originating in Japan, “Hello Kitty” is Sanrio’s most famous international character. Kitty was first seen printed on a Sanrio plastic coin purse that went on sale in 1974. Since then, she has been appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has also been co-opted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport as a Goodwill Tourism Ambassador for China and HongKong.


Kuroshio Kun (the mascot of Kochi)

   I am Kuroshio Kun, the mascot of Kochi Prefecture. I am a wave of the Black Current (Kuroshio). You must have seen me somewhere else before.
   My charming points are a cute pair of eyes and a smiling face. I will make you happy by my relaxing atmosphere. In 1997, Kochi Prefecture held a public competition to design a mascot. A lady from Aichi Prefecture drew me and won the prize. I guess you could call her my mother.

Water Disasters in Kochi

Flooding in September 1998
   Kochi gets higher rainfall than any other prefecture in Japan. Usually that’s a good thing – Kochi doesn’t suffer from water shortages, and the rain is great for agriculture – but too much of even a good thing is bad, and every now and then the rains bring disaster.

Mr. Daniel Ribble with Shakuhachi

   Shakuhachi is a Japanese vertical bamboo flute, which was used by the monks of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism at the Edo period. The name means “1.8 Shaku”, referring to its size.
   Daniel Ribble is a Shakuhachi player from the US. He came to Kochi as an English teacher in 1986, and has been living here ever since.

Rare Djembe Artisan in Kochi

   Meet Toshihisa Kuzume, an artisan, musician and teacher of the djembe in Nagahama in Kochi City. The djembe is a traditional, goblet-shaped drum originating in West Africa that is found at most festivals and events. Several people play at a time, some beating the drums by hand or with other apparatus like horns and drumsticks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Make Japanese Paper in Kochi

   Japanese paper production in Kochi (Tosa Washi) is believed to have a 1000-year history, based on records which indicate that paper was presented to the emperor at that time. Handmade paper production reached a golden age in the Edo and Meiji eras and became one of Kochi’s specialized products. Over time, the demand for handmade paper has dropped sharply. But in 1976, Tosa Washi was designated as a national traditional craft and now Ino Town is the center of paper production in Kochi Pref.

Study Japanese Culture in Kochi

   If you want to enrich your life in Kochi, or make more Japanese friends, why don’t you take classes in Japanese culture with likeminded individuals?

Hand-Made Soba

   Imagine how satisfying it would be to make your own soba, and be able to take it home to eat. There is a place in Kochi that lets you do just this.
   About 40 minutes by bus from JR Kubokawa Station (Dosan Line) you will find “Hokushin no Yakata,” a small building standing inconspicuously next to a mountain hot-spring hotel. You can make your own original soba noodles at this Japanese-style wooden house. Add water little by little to local buckwheat and flour, mix and knead until the dough is as hard as your ear lobe. Roll the dough with a special bar, and when thin enough, fold it into four and then cut evenly.

Make Katsuo no Tataki (lightly roasted bonito)

   In Saga, Kuroshio Town, your can make “katsuo no tataki” (lightly roasted bonito) at the “Kuroshio-ichibankan”. This dish is the crowning glory of culinary culture in Kochi. This facility gives you a chance to experience authentic tataki making using a fire fueled with straw. It’s open between March and November. A minimum of two people must apply for the lesson to go ahead. The fee is from ¥3150 per person including a meal using a whole bonito, featuring your own handmade tataki. Reservation is required.

Access: Walk 20min. from Tosa Saga Sta. on the Tosakuroshio Line
Inquiries: 0880-55-3680

Taken from vol.28 PDF

Make Japanese Sake in Kochi

   For those who are tired of just drinking Japanese Sake, why not try making your own?

   Let me introduce you to a sake brewery which offers sake-making lessons, starting from the production of the raw-material - rice. Mutemuka in Taisho, Shimanto Town offers this course, beginning with rice-planting in May all the way through to bottling in December. The participation fee is ¥20,000. For more information, please call 0880-27-0316.
Website: (Japanese)

   The Kochi Youth Hostel reportedly offers an opportunity to experience sake-making. Please contact the hostel at 088-823-0858

Taken from vol.28 PDF

Now, in Houterasu, we offer attention in foreign languages!

English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalog are available.

Ask us about: Loans, Divorce, Labour, Accidents, etc. Also regarding natural disasters.

Please see the attached file (WORD) for more information.

Other languages:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yamada Daiko – Japanese Drum Group

   “Yamada Daiko Densho-kai” is a group who has been playing the Japanese drum in the present Tosayamada-cho, Kami City since 1987. They play with the synthesizer and the drums to create an atypical soundscape. They have been pursuing the depth of sound from the Japanese drums for a long time.

I’m a BIG FAN of Ryoma!

   There are many Ryoma fans all over Japan and abroad. 120 groups are registered as Ryoma Fan Club homepages. Each group holds seminars and study tours related to the history of Ryoma with broad networks thoughout Japan. Since 1989, “The National Conference of Ryoma” has been held annually.

How to find good local Japanese sake

   Kochi earns a good reputation for its sake nationwide while many other alcoholic beverages such as shochu (distilled spirit) and fruit wines are produced and sold in the market here. It is said that even the Japanese have difficulty picking out their favorite one out of a great variety of locally-brewed sake in Kochi.

Kochi, the Sake Country

   Why is Kochi called “the Sake Country”? There is no specific reason, but, during Edo era, people considered that lords and samurai warriors in Kochi were savage characters and hard drinkers. For instance, lord Motochika Chosokabe imposed controls on alcohol comsumption after he conquered Tosa (the old name of Kochi).

Origins of Tosaben and Hataben

   Dialects exist everywhere in Japan, and in Kochi two main dialects are spoken: Tosaben and Hataben. Here is a brief explanation about how these two dialects were formed.

   Because a language is influenced by climate, society, culture, etc., it is necessary to learn about these things to understand a dialect.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love Letters from Ryoma and Yanase-sugi

   Are you looking for a unique gift from Kochi? A gift only found in Kochi that has recently been all the rage is toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper.

Gifts for ceremonial occasions

   When you are invited to a Japanese style wedding reception, or you have to attend a funeral for a deceased family member of your Japanese friend or colleague, do you know what to prepare or pay attention to? If you don’t, this article might prove to be useful.

GENKI Seinenkai

Tosaben Musical 2012
   This volunteer group mainly revolves around the annual “Tosaben Musical” which involves foreigners acting in the local dialect. It aims to revive local cultures and promote international exchange. Proceeds from the musical go to local students who would like to study abroad. We are currently recruiting Japanese members! Yoroshiku!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kochi Japanese Salon

   The Kochi Japanese Salon is a volunteer organization which offers a free service of Japanese classes for foreigners living in Kochi. Its members include persons who have had experience in teaching Japanese or have completed the Japanese volunteer teaching program organized by the Kochi International Association (KIA).

Nakajimacho Catholic Church

   The Nakajimacho Catholic Church is located about a minute’s walk west of the south building of Kochi City Hall. The present building of the church was constructed in 1958. Many foreign believers, a lot of whom are from the Philippines, gather at the church for the Holy Mass in English conducted at 3:15pm every Sunday.

Tosa Yoga

   Tosa Yoga was founded in 2000 by Oliver Stymie Reinsch. Their five highly qualified teachers are from America, Australia, and Japan. Tosa Yoga uses a blend of yoga styles including Iyengar, Asthanga, Viniyoga and Feel-good Yoga to stretch, strengthen, and relax the body. It also helps clear the mind, and enlighten the soul. They hold classes in Kochi City, Nankoku City, Tosa City, Shimanto City and Kuroshio Town.


Hata Surf Dojo

   I left the Goldcoast in Australia in 1994 to come look for waves in Japan. I found my waves in here in Hata, but what I also found were kind people, traditional living, and a laid-back atmosphere.

   I then decided to settle here in Hata and made friends with nature. At times I would wait for big waves to come along with the typhoons, at much reprove from the locals, and at other times I would teach English to the locals at school.


Nankoku City International Association (NIA)

   NIA was established in 2002. Despite being relatively new, this organization is one of the most active in Kochi. As you can imagine from the name of the organization, it bases its activities in Nankoku City. The most distinctive feature of the organization is that even those who don’t reside in Nankoku City can become a member of the organization.

Onsen after climbing mountains

Befukyo Onsen
   While at the hot spring take in the views of the Shikoku Mountains like Mt Ishizuchisan, Mt Tsurugisan and Sanrei which is 1893 meters high.
   Address:452-8 Befu, Monobe-cho, Kami City
   TEL:0887-58-4181 Entry fee:¥600 for adult
   Web: (in Japanese only)
  Access: 1.5 hours by car from Kochi City via national road 195. About 45 min from JR Tosayamada Sta. by JR bus, then 35min from Odochi bycity-run bus and get off at Befukyo Onsen Mae.

Interview with a mountain lover

   I met with Mr. Hiroshi Kamohara (Culture and International Affairs Division) and talked with him about climbing mountains and what it is that particularly attracts him to the mountains of Kochi.

What is it you enjoy most about climbing mountains?


Recommended Mountains in Kochi

A view from Bandagamori
   It is said that 84% of Kochi Prefecture is mountainous, which is good news for hiking fans! The countless mountain ranges offer great variety for the avid hiker. However, it makes it impossible to introduce all of Kochi’s mountains without writing a book, so here are seven mountains from all over Kochi with their basic information and features as a starting point.

Kinoko-gari: mushroom hunting

   Now make no mistake about it, I’m a kinoko fan. I remember coming to Japan hoping to go on what they call “kinoko-gari”, which, like hunting for animals, you hunt for mushrooms. I used to daydream about the day I would get to see the beautiful Dictyophora indusiata, or as they call it here the “Queen of Mushrooms”. While everybody has an obsession about one thing or another in Japan, mine undoubtedly has to be kinoko.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Train trips on a shoestring

JR Shikoku Tokkyu Express Train
   While train travel in Japan is one of the most expensive in the world, there are many ticket discounts available if you are on a budget but want to travel around Shikoku for a weekend or so.


   When you are ill and want to see a doctor, how do you search for hospitals? If you prefer to go somewhere near your home or be able to correspond in your own language, sometimes you may have difficulty finding one. I’ll tell you about a website, “Kochi-Iryo-Net”, that can help you find such a hospital immediately.

   “Kochi-Iryo-Net” is a convenient website that tells you information about emergency, hospitals, clinics, dentists and pharmacies in Kochi. What you have to do is input your language, medical condition and location into the website. Then a list of hospitals that applies to those requirements is displayed and the user can select the best one from it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Travelling light to the airport

   When you are going abroad or travelling back to your own country, carrying a lot of luggage to and from the international airport can be hardwork.

   Travelling light makes sense especially when living in Kochi where it is a long way to get to either Kansai or Narita airports.


“Small Packets” Shipping Method

   Sending a package overseas can be very costly. But did you know that packages under 2kgs can be sent by post at comparatively cheaper prices than heavier ones?

   For example, sending a 3.6kg package from Kochi to California by SAL (a shipping method that treats packages as surface mail within each country but airmail between countries) would cost over ¥6000. If you were to split this into two packages however, each 1.8kg package would cost ¥1880 to send, making the total ¥3760.

Parking lots around Kochi Airport

   You may have many opportunities to use Kochi Airport on a variety of occasions such as travel, business trips and driving your friends to and from the airport. Here is good news for those who use a car for transportation to the airport.

   You can find the airport-run parking lot in front of the entrance of the airport and many private parking lots around the airport. They each offer their own discount services.

Savings at Supermarkets

   Here are some tips for those of you who like to save a few bucks at the supermarket. Did you know about these?

“Time service”
   After a certain hour, in order to sell all foods that spoil, supermarkets will mark down prices and put stickers on the food packets. 50-100yen discounts are common, and sometimes half price if you wait long enough!
   Each supermarket is different but they generally mark down the prices of meats, fish and pre-made dishes after the evening rush and before the shop closes, and for daily products like milk, bread and tofu, just after the shop opens.

Farmer’s produce section
   More and more supermarkets are beginning to have a section for vegetables and other food stuffs that have been supplied directly from local farmers. Usually they are much cheaper and fresher than the imported foods from other prefectures. Go early for this!

   Usually supermarkets wait until around meal times when people are most hungry to dish out titbits that are made for customer’s tasting and therefore purchase. Don’t feel like you need to buy the stuff!

SUNNYMART's point card
Point cards
   If your supermarket has a point card system, use it! Signing up for a card is usually free, and each time you shop you get points that go towards some reward system. Some cards can be used at other affiliated shops too.

Taken from vol.39 PDF

Daikō (Replacement Driver Service)

   If you commute by car or often use a car, the replacement driver service (daikō in Japanese) is a perfect service in the year-end and New Year party season. Daikō is a service where someone drives your car for you, and delivers you and your car to your home together.

Exchange Service from Used Paper and Magazine to Toilet Paper

   When you are at home on a day with nice weather, have you ever noticed a truck driving slowly while announcing “I will exchange used paper and magazines for toilet paper?”

   If you bundle old newspapers and magazines together and keep them in your house instead of throwing away such recyclables in the garbage, you can receive one roll or more (depending on the amount given) of toilet paper from the truck driver. When you notice the truck driving by your home, stop it and hand the old newspapers and magazines to the driver.

   This exchange service kills two birds with one stone. That is, it contributes not only to the protection of the global environment but also saves you money. It may be hard to notice the voice spoken in Japanese and the driver probably speaks only Japanese, but please give it a try.

Taken from vol.39 PDF

Kochi B-grade Gourmet

Shirasu Ramen

   Have you ever heard the term “B-kyu” (B-grade) gourmet? Much of local dishes are what we call B-grade, meaning they are not high-class, but rather affordable yet tasty dishes for the common people.

Nabeyaki Ramen

   Don’t you feel like having some hot food on a cold day? “Nabeyaki ramen” is a good food to warm you up. Nabeyaki (meaning: hot pot) ramen is a local specialty in Susaki city, located to the west of Kochi.


   This tasty condiment is made from adding the essence of spicy little peppers used often in Thai cooking called Prik-kee-noo to Kochi’s yuzu ponzu sauce. The spicy prik-kee-noo and sour yuzu ponzu mesh like peanut butter and jelly, and the sauce goes surprisingly well with many foods. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as dip for hotpot (or just as a kick to your usual dip), sauce for gyoza, on fish dishes, mushroom dishes, fried foods, and as salad dressing.

   My favorite is pouring it on steamed thin-sliced pork and cabbage. The possibilities are endless! There are three levels of spiciness offered so that more people can try it. The best thing is, it is made locally by a Kochi based company.

   You can find Prik-kees at SUNNYMART supermarkets and souvenir shops. For more info and recipe ideas, visit: (Japanese)

Taken from vol.40 PDF

Shiokaze Burger & Dappan Dog

Shiokaze Burger
   The “Shiokaze Burger” is made from ground dolphinfish (or mahi-mahi/dorado). In Kochi,  dolphinfish are caught mostly in summer and are hard to keep fresh. A limited 20 dolphinfish burgers are sold at ¥400 each from around 10 am every Sunday at Yasuragi Market at the Michi no Eki (roadside station) in Yasu, Konan City.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

“Saba-ga-” from Tosashimizu

    Of Kochi’s mackerel, Shimizu mackerel or Shimizu saba is the most famous.
   Blue mackerel, which is caught and offloaded at Tosashimizu Port, is branded as “Shimizu Saba”. Creatively, they made a burger out of this fresh saba!

Everybody loves our fried sweet potato!

   The longest queue at Kochi’s Sunday or Thursday market is always at the “Imoten shop”. Imoten is fried sweet potato tempura. It may not sound very special, but please try it! You will find it is very different from Imoten you would make at home. The sweet potato remains juicy inside the crispy batter, and it’s so addictive that once you have started eating it, it is hard to stop. Imoten has been popular amongst people of all ages for a long time.

Momiji (Deer) Burger

   Momiji (Deer) Burger was developed to make good use of deer captured to prevent further damage to agricultural products and forests in Kochi. “Momiji”, which means red maple leaves in Japanese, was used as a code word for deer by olden-day monks who were not supposed to eat meat at the time.

Ryoma Burger

   How can Tosa Wave do an issue on local grub and not feature something katsuo (bonito) flavoured? We can’t! At 5019 (pronounced go-in-gu) is the mega “Ryoma Burger”. Measuring up to 20cm in height and 15cm in width, it is a burger not to be challenged by the faint-hearted.

   Inside the bun you can find lettuce, tomato, eggplant, fried egg, meat patty, cheese, green capsicum and tuna made from katsuo. To eat it they recommend squashing it with the foil it’s served in. Definitely not recommended on a date.

   Their inspiration for the burger is said to have come from Ryoma’s tall frame and of course, his big ambitions.

   You can try this and many other menus at 5019, to the west side of Central Park in Kochi City.

5019 website: (Japanese only)

Taken from vol.40 PDF

Tosa Space Sake & Deep Sea Water Sake

   You may have heard of Space Barley recently, or you may even have heard of Space Yoghurt. But, before all of that, Kochi was the first to create our very own Tosa Space Sake.

Doburoku in Mihara Village

   Doburoku, or cloudy sake, is a kind of rice wine and is produced with malted rice, yeast and others added to cooked rice. It is the simplest form among alcoholic beverages made from rice and can be produced easily at home. But it is illegal to brew it at home without license. Therefore the word “doburoku” is sometimes used as another name for bootleg liquor.

Manbō (Sunfish)

   Do you know the sunfish (“manbō”), one of the most popular fish exhibited in aquariums in Japan, with lovable appearance and cute swimming style, is eaten in Kochi?

Yuzu & Gokkun Umaji-Mura

   Yuzu is a kind of citrus fruit, which began to be grown by a part of the once flourishing lumber industry in Kochi. After the industry collapsed due to low lumber prices, many sought new income sources.