In light of Tochiozan’s upset of Terunofuji, I thought I would put in a quick plug for Kochi, his home prefecture. I have not been to his actual home town but I visited Kochi city with my family and a friend and we took the Anpanman train to Shimanto-gawa (Shimanto river). It’s an amazing place. The people we met were really friendly. Kochi is the source for a lot of yuzu and is famous for a particular fish dish called katsuo no tataki. We ate it at a really good restaurant, and we were invited to the house of a friend of a friend for dinner so we had it there, too. I’m no connoisseur of fish but it was good – I can tell salmon from tuna (raw or cooked) but when it comes to white fish, I’m lost. Aji might as well be catfish. It’s all good, whether baked or fried. When it comes to yuzu, though, that is about as distinctive of a flavor as you can get. It’s a citrus but it’s not an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit. It’s just different.
We were back in Japan recently and I was very disappointed that it was out of season and was really expensive and hard to find. It goes great in whisky highballs (yes, I put stuff in my whisky – especially ice and soda water – sometimes mint or yuzu). Anyway, back to Kochi.
There are a few tourist spots in Kochi, many of them have to do with Sakamoto Ryoma, a hero of the Meiji Restoration. There are some great books by Romulus Hilsborough that talk about him and that period. I’m re-reading a book of his about the Shinsengumi…but that’s all an aside. Basically, there are museums and statues around the city that history buffs may enjoy. It was definitely an advantage to have my wife and her friend with me since they were able to translate a lot.
The coast is very picturesque. It’s a rocky, irregular coastline with cliffs as well as a few beaches. We found this great spot with a shrine on top, not far from the statue of Ryoma above. There’s a museum about Ryoma close by, also. If anyone knows why they put the stones on top of the torii, leave a note in the comments. Torii are these gates. Everyone’s probably seen pictures of the red one that’s in the middle of the water. It’s pretty but personally I like this stone one I found with the jagged coastline in the back. I don’t remember how we found the one in the woods (below). I think we were just walking around and stumbled across it.
And finally, to get us back on topic, I bring you the yokozuna dog. There’s a breed of dog from Kochi called Tosa-ken. Tosa is the old name of this area from back in Ryoma’s time. Ken means dog. They have a bunch of dogs that are really friendly and you can pet. They don’t really wrestle. It’s not about dog-fighting.
I’ve got more pictures of Kochi, including pictures of Kochi-jo which is this big castle in the middle of town. It’s not as big as Himeji castle but it’s very pretty and it’s great to take the tour. I’ll sprinkle future posts with more of these pictures. The coast is beautiful. There’s also a market in town that had many great places to eat. We took a domestic flight from Tokyo to Kochi…taking the train would have taken too long. Also, it was cheap and a very short flight. More pictures to come if you all are interested. Please let me know if you all have been or plan to go. It’s really a nice place and I hope to go back the next time we’re in Japan.