Day 17: Kōchi

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Continues from Day 16: Matsuyama, Shikoku Karst and Uwajima
Today we are leaving Iwajima for Kōchi!

We decided to get McDonalds for breakfast as there really wasn't too much else in the area.

It's a bit of a rare treat as we never eat it at home; only when travelling overseas.

The Shimano River
So, upon checking out from the hotel we drove to a nearby McDonalds for some McMuffins.

After that we drove to the city of Kochi, making sure to go via the Shimano River.

Along the way we stopped in Kihoku, although I'm not sure why.

There's a few things to do in the city but as far as I can recall we didn't do any of those things.

Speaking of recollection I'm actually having a lot of trouble with this day for some reason.

Anyway, yeah we drove along the Shimano River which was a nice drive with some good scenery and arrived in Kochi about two and a half hours later.

Kochi is the capital of the Kochi prefecture and is home to three and a half hundred thousand people.

The city’s main attraction is its castle which is one of Japan's few originals, but for some reason we didn't actually visit!

Instead, we went to Mount Godaisan which is a small mountain in the middle of the city.

The Chinese Buddhist priests who named this mountain also established Chikurin-ji temple at the top, which is number 31 on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Godaisan also contains the Makino Botanical Garden as well as our first destination: a rest house and a viewpoint that looks out over Kochi and the bay.

It was another hot day today and we ended up parking down the hill a bit from the observation point. This meant we had to walk up an overgrown path first.

Dr Makino with a mushroom
The building was quite large and there were two levels, the first level was indoors and contained a restaurant.

Instead of visiting the restaurant though we climbed up some stairs to the roof of the building where we could experience some great views.

As well as the roof of the building there was also a little platform that extended out over the edge.

After having a look at the view and taking some photos we then continued on to the botanical gardens.

The gardens are named after Dr. Makino Tomitaro who was a botanist from Kochi who is regarded as the father of Japanese Botany.

His extensive classification work resulted in the documentation of 50,000 plant species and he himself named over 2500 plants.

We paid 720 yen to enter the gardens and spend the next two hours wandering around the grounds looking at the flowers and gardens.

It was, as frequently commented, a hot and humid day today so we really appreciated some of the indoor exhibits on Dr. Makino Tomitaro.

They were actually quite well done.

Miniture garden
Out in the garden there were some Japanese gardens, including a really cool miniature bonsai style garden, views down into the valley, interesting floral specimens, a section on calcareous plants (those that grow in limestone karst landscapes), and a bonsai section.

Inside a greenhouse we also found cacti, butterflies and some interesting plants like durian and guarana.

After finishing with the botanical gardens we walked over to Chikurin-ji.

This temple belongs to the Shingon, or True Word, sect of Japanese Buddhism and is said to have had been founded in the 8th century by Gyōki- a famous wandering priest.

The temple grounds are free to enter and feature a number of interesting buildings, the most notable of which is a fantastic five-storied pagoda.

As well as visiting the pagoda, we also paid to enter the treasure hall where we found a number of scrolls and statues significant to the temple.

After having a look at the treasures we then viewed the interior of the main hall and gazed upon a nice garden.

Once we'd finished with Chikurin-ji we walked back down to our car and drove to our hotel, the Kochi Comfort Hotel.

We arrived at around 3:30pm and parked in the little car parking area under/next to the hotel.

When we checked in we told reception our car's registration number and paid for parking either now or when we left, I can't remember which.

And that is about the limit of my memory for this day. We came down for complimentary drinks at one point and I think we went out, but apart from that I can't remember what we did for the rest of the day or what we had for dinner.

I thought we may have went to Karaoke, but upon investigation using google street view I didn't recognise any of the buildings.

So who knows!

Tomorrow we'll be visiting Ryugadou Cave before driving up into Iya Valley. Ryugadou and Iya are each one of Japan's three best caves and hidden valleys, respectively. After seeing the sights we'll then enjoy our last night in a Ryokan for this trip.

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