Kochi prefecture is an area on the Southern part of Shikoku island of Japan. Although it is surrounded by sea—Tosa Bay in the Pacific Ocean to the south and the stunning Seto Inland Sea to the north—the island is actually 84% forest, the most of any prefecture.
Combined with a mild climate and large amount of annual rainfall, the area has incredible produce and is an excellent area for cycling!
Especially in early spring and late autumn. Along rivers, through tunnels, past hundreds of tosa citrus groves, and through tiny villages, this ride covers all grounds.
It is good for both beginners and old-timers, with quite a few uphills and narrow barrier-less bridges. These bridges are really incredible and make you feel like you’re flying at times. It feels so Japan but at the same time, it’s other-worldly.
The area is really easy to access by train and you can take your bike and gear on board so long as its in a bag. Some other trains in the area are called “cycle trains” and have dedicated cycle rooms for your bikes.
sunglasses and rain coat
spare parts & tools for mechanical self-sufficiency
Being Japan, there is ample opportunity for food and water (bottles). Convenience stores and local produce stalls dot the main route.
Not all are open 24 hours down here though so it is advised to stock up when you can in case of emergency. In the city, there are some amazing and famous markets where you can stock up on a wide variety of local foods like persimmon, many types of citrus, torched katsuo tuna, inakazushi (vegetable sushi), udon, and tonnes of local vegetables.
There are some great places to eat in the city too like Menbo Miyake udon, COFFEE HOUSE SPOON, and tacos handmade from local corn from Masacasa Tacos food truck. Kochi Ice along the route has great ice cream and views of the river.
Camping opportunities along the route should you wish to take it slow are not plentiful but there are definitely options.
One of the most famous sites is a collaboration with Japanese outdoor brand Snow Peak and architect Kengo Kuma called Snow Peak Ochi Niyodogawa.
You can stay in one of the especially designed cabins that overlook the river, or else camp as usual in the large field. About 4400 yen for camping and 17,600 yen for a cabin. Showers, garage disposal, cooking facilities and firewood all available and most camping gear available for rent too.
It can get very cold along the route. The city and day might start off warm but as the road undulates through a valley it is advisable to bring many layers. There are also tunnels and a few leafy areas, so be ready to remove sunglasses safely at any point.
While the ride was only four or five hours, it was an incredible and easy way to access a beautiful area of Japan. Kochi city is a great place to station yourself for other rides outside of the city in the Shikoku area, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
S E Krieble
Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, I now live in Tokyo. I cycle everywhere in the city and feel very lucky to have access to such incredible nature.