On the south coast of Shikoku, Kouchi has a notable castle and some beautiful parks and temples. It’s also home to a great food market where you can eat and drink into the night, and makes a good starting point for any trip to Shikoku’s south west cape.
Arriving and Transport
Kouchi is easy to get to by train, via the Dosan line that runs from Tadotsu, near Takamatsu, on the north of the island. By car it’s a pleasantly short drive from the Iya Valley. Around ten domestic flights – JAL and ANA – arrive at the local airport every day from Tokyo Haneda.
In the City
My visit to Kouchi was a brief one, but there was one key place I wanted to check out: the castle. Kouchi-Jou is unusual in being an original structure, not a 2oth century replica, and it has all the interior buildings still standing.
These days the castle sits inside a beautiful park, and after climbing up through the ramparts you can take a walk around inside and climb up the keep:
.. from which you get a beautiful view of the city.
Speaking of beautiful views of the city, there’s also the park at Godai-san, just outside town. It’s a little out of the way if you don’t have a car, but at the top there’s a park with a viewing platform looking out over the entire city (spot the castle):
.. and also a beautiful temple, the Chikurin-Ji (竹林寺) with a pagoda and formal gardens. If the weather’s good, it’s a very pleasant place to spend an hour or two.
Eating and Staying
Down in the city, not far from the castle, you’ll find Hirome Ichiba – a huge indoor food and drink market, with large communal tables surrounded by dozens of stalls selling everything from everyday izakaya fare to Indian food. In the evening, as the offices empty out, it fills up – grab some beers (sold everywhere), then start ordering anything you fancy – the local speciality of seared bonito is great, but then so are the gyoza and just about everything else.
Also nearby you’ll find two independent coffee shops – the amazingly named Mephistopheles and, just next door, Spoon – we took a break in the latter, which was a nice place to spend some time. It’s at 3 Chome-2-45 Honmachi.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, the 7 Days Hotel Plus is downtown, very modern and very pleasant. Also, cheap. And if you’re arriving by car it has a tower-style car park.