October 20, 2018 – Kochi, Japan
Kochi Castle, is probably the town’s biggest attraction and is a completely original castle, one of only twelve such in Japan. The complete inner citadel (honmaru) of the castle is still intact.
First constructed between 1601 and 1611 by Yamauchi Katsutoyo, the feudal lord (daimyo) of Tosa, the castle burnt down in 1727 and was rebuilt between 1729-1753. The buildings we see today date from that period.
The reconstruction of Kochi Castle took place in the middle of a time of prolonged peace in Japan, so the feudal lord of the day had his living quarters (kaitokukan) situated on the ground floor looking out on to a pleasant garden planted with cherry trees and plum trees.
The 18.5m-tall castle tower (donjon) has three external levels on six floors. Being a clear day, there were good views over Kochi town stretching out below.
The famous landmark of Kochi’s downtown is Harimayabashi, a small red bridge on the west side of the main street. While it may not look particularly noteworthy at first glance, Harimayabashi is renowned for its role in a Kochi love story.
A common version of the story centers around a priest from Godaisan and a girl from Kochi. Because the priest’s temple forbade relationships, the couple hid their romance by meeting in secret and exchanging clandestine gifts. One day, the priest was seen buying a hair comb at Harimayabashi, and the couple’s secret romance was discovered. They were forced to flee the city to avoid punishment.
In addition to Harimayabashi, downtown Kochi has pedestrian shopping arcades and attractive streets for walking. “Hello Kitty” marks the entrance to the shopping street.
At the end of the shopping arcade is the Hirome Market, a large building filled chockablock full of food vendors and shops. Think of it as a huge Asian street food court.
We (read Ed) were in search of a local food specialty called Katsuo. It is prepared by searing the Katsua (Bonita/Tuna) briefly. In our case, it was seared over an open fire fueled by what looked like thin reeds. It is then sliced and seasoned with salt and green onion. Our order also came with rice and Miso soup. The taste is somewhat smoky and I thought it was very good.
Karen enjoyed her chicken wing and something that tasted like deep fried kale. We both enjoyed the ice cold beer! That’s it from Kochi. Until next time, thanks for following along.