At the End of the Mirror River
An MSC cruise will take you to Kochi, situated in the prefecture of the same name, on the island of Shikoku. You can visit Kochi castle on an excursion; it is one of the twelve Japanese castles to have survived fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post-feudal age.
It was built between 1601 and 1611. What you can see of the building today however, dates back to 1748, the year in which the castle was rebuilt after a fire. Curiosity: its main tower was not used only for military purposes, but it was also the residence of noble families. Quite unusual, since the nobility would usually reside in other parts of the castle. The wooden interior is typical of the traditional style of the Edo period.
Near Kochi harbor is the picturesque beach of Katsurahama. In the local restaurants you can eat Katsuo, a type of tuna which is typical to Japanese waters, cut into slices and lightly grilled on straw fuelled fire which gives it a slightly smoky flavor.
Seventy kilometers from Kochi there is an unusual tourist attraction, the ancient Kazurabashi Bridge, 45 meters wide and 2 meters wide, it stretches 14 meters above the waters of the river Iya. Today, the bridge – which is made from Actinidia arguta wood, a kind of vine similar to a kiwi plant – is reinforced with steel wires. It should not be missed for the surrounding landscape and the brief but thrilling walk it offers.
Closer to Kochi is the wonderful Oboke gorge: we cross the river Yoshino on a boat and marvel at how over hundreds of millions of years the river has eroded the rocks of the Shikoku mountains shaping the stone into bizarre shapes.