WHAT WE DO
We help tourists take home wonderful memories from Kochi.
Guided Tour of Kochi Castle
Sundays, Saturdays, National Holidays, and days a cruise ship calls at Kochi.
Free of Charge, No Appointment Necessary
Simply report to the Tourist Information Center at Kochi Castle.
Guided Tours to Other Tourist Spots
Area: Within Kochi Prefecture
Time: 9:00-17:00 (negociable)
Language: English (for other languages, please contact us)
to apply, please contact us two weeks in advance by e-mail.
Fee: Free of Charge
We ask you to cover our admission fees, travel cost and meal expenses when necessary.
Kochi SGG is non-profit organization. We cannot accept any requests concerning profit oriented business .
*Kochi SGG is a volunteer guide group. Our guide service is free but we would appreciate a voluntary donation as a token of goodwill if you wish to support our organization.
GUIDED TOUR OF KOCHI CASTLE
English tour guides are available on Sunday.
Fun, Relaxing, Delicious, and Beautiful!
Hi Everyone! My name is Scott Parks, and I’m a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Kochi City Hall. I first came to Kochi from the USA in the summer of 2013 after graduating from university, and I immediately fell in love with the place. Kochi’s people are wonderful, its food is delicious, and its scenery is beautiful. I participate in SGG’s Wednesday English study sessions once a month, and I also occasionally select and write about my favorite things about Kochi for their newsletter. You can find these selections below.
I like playing video games, dancing, and eating ice cream and donuts (…not together). Nice to meet you!
by Scott Parks
“Why Kochi?” It’s a question I often get asked as a foreigner who lives in Kochi. Indeed, there are doubtfully many foreigners who have Kochi in their sights when they come to Japan. However, as rare as it may be, I wanted to come to Kochi when I was living in America. The reason for that was Ocean Waves, the 1993 Studio Ghibli animated film.
Ocean Waves is a story told through the memories of college freshman Taku Morisaki, who now lives alone in Tokyo, about the youthful days he spent at Otemae High School. When a transfer student named Rikako Muto moves to Kochi from Tokyo, she quickly becomes the talk of the school. Not only is she good at sports, gets good grades, and is beautiful, but Rikako also speaks in Tokyo dialect, is stuck up, and doesn’t try to make friends with anyone. During a school trip, Taku finds himself suddenly pulled into Rikako’s selfish world, changing his high school life forever.
But for me, the best part about Ocean Waves is not its story; it’s something more subtle. While most Ghibli films are set in a fantasy world, this one is grounded in reality. Taku’s memories may be warm and rose-tinted, but they take place in the human world we live in. In fact, the film feels so real that it is as if you are looking back on your own high school experience. You look back with Taku on a younger time when the difficulties and joys of social life were everything, and you viscerally remember the innocent yet complicated feelings of a kid in high school. For me, that is what this movie is about.
Moving on, the soundtrack is peaceful, upbeat, and, perhaps because it was recorded over 20 years ago, has a nostalgia about it that fits perfectly into the reminiscent atmosphere. The animation is nice (not fantastic) and is drawn in warm and soft pastel tones. These factors, combined with a title like Ocean Waves, evoke a familiar “southern country Tosa” feeling.
Although I love this movie, I will include criticisms in an attempt to not be 100% biased. First of all, the story is not robust, and the pacing is slow. This may leave some viewers bored or looking for more. However, personally, I think the laid-back story is what allows atmosphere and emotion to take center stage. I have also heard that the dialect in the film is not 100% accurate, and that may understandably bother some viewers.
For those who want to relive the raw emotions of youth while watching a movie that takes place in Kochi, Ocean Waves is my must-see recommendation.
by Scott Parks
I’ve truly fallen in love with Kochi since moving here last August. There are many Kochi foods, places, and people that I have grown to adore. However, for this article, I will focus on Mount Godaisan, a place in Kochi that will always be special for me.
The first time I went to Godaisan was with some coworkers. We had some extra time to kill, so we drove up the mountain to have a look at the scenery. We weren’t able to see too much in our limited time, but we quickly visited the temple Chikurinji, where my coworker got her wedding photos taken, and got a nice view of the city from where we parked. I remember thinking that this was a cool place and that I needed to come back.
It wasn’t until later that I was able to enjoy all that Godaisan has to offer. Now I love to take visiting friends up the mountain whenever I have the chance.
My typical course goes something like this:
(1) Take the MY YUU Bus up to the Makino Botanical Gardens from Kochi Station or Hariymayabashi. (If foreigners show their passport when buying a MY YUU Bus ticket to Godaisan at Kochi Station, they can get it for just 300 yen!)
(2) Eat soft serve in the Garden’s parking lot. (My favorites are Rose Petal and Purple Potato.)
(3) Visit Makino Botanical Garden, and get a 100 yen discount by showing my bus ticket. The Garden is always beautiful and changing!
(4) Visit the Garden’s gift shop and maybe eat a “Shiroi Yume” mango daifuku.
(5) Take a walk to Chikurinji and absorb the beauty.
(6) Walk on over to Panorama, the amazing café with a view, and eat something delicious! Panorama is a fashionable café with an observation deck that can see all of Kochi City. Their vegetable soup curry can’t be beat!
(7) Spend some time with a friend looking out over the city from the observation deck of Panorama, or enjoy a few hours with a book inside.
(8) Take the My YUU Bus home!
The above course is fun, relaxing, delicious, and beautiful. I highly recommend it to those who have never been to Godaisan before as well as those who have been many times! You won’t regret it!
by Scott Parks
Ever since I was a kid, my mother used to teach me about the art movement impressionism. I wasn’t old enough to understand long and complicated European art history, but I did understand that impressionists tried to depict light and its interactions with its surroundings, and I thought that was really pretty. My favorite artists were Pierre Auguste Renoir and Vincent Van Gogh, who was part of the Post Impressionism movement.
Of course, one person that cannot be overlooked when talking about the impressionists is Claude Monet. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that there was a garden in Kochi Prefecture dedicated to an artist I knew since childhood. As such, I’ve wanted to go to the Monet Garden since I came to Kochi last August. Eventually, I was able to get the Coordinator for International Relations in Kitagawa Village, Amanda, to take me there. It’s a little far from Kochi City, but it’s definitely worth it.
The Monet Garden has three main areas: “The Water Garden”, “The Light Garden”, and the “Flower Garden”. Apparently the inspiration for the Water Garden is the Japanese gardens that Monet so adored. Above the pond filled with lilies, there is a bridge that is exactly the same as the one in the Monet Garden in Giverny, France. There are also replicas of Monet’s water lily paintings around the pond. Enjoying both the paintings and the scenery at the same time is tranquil and calming. The Light Garden is based off of the time that Monet went with Renoir to the Mediterranean Sea at the age of 43. It has many palm trees and other unfamiliar plants, so it really feels like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. There are also Monet paintings here, so you can enjoy the paintings and the garden at the same time. The Flower Garden is different yet again. It is a collection of many different species of flowers, giving the impression of a painter’s colorful and varied palette. The flowers blooming at any given time vary throughout the year, so there is always something pretty to view no matter when you visit. I can’t wait to show these three gardens to my mother when she visits Kochi. I’m sure she’ll love it.
There are many more features to the Monet Garden beyond these three areas, including a viewing platform, a gallery and shop, a restaurant called Café Monet’s House, a bakery that uses local ingredients, and a flower shop. According to the garden’s website, those coming by car should first come to Nahari-cho, then make their way north through Highway 493 (left turn at Kochi Credit Union) for 3km or 5mins. When coming by public transit, first come to Nahari Station, then get on a bus to Kitagawa Village and get off at the “Monet Garden” stop. The fee for adults is 700 yen. I highly recommend this spot, especially for those who enjoy art and nature!
My Favorite Kochi Hamburgers
by Scott Parks
I am American. As you all know, Americans have the habit of eating hamburgers every single day! That’s just a lame joke, but the truth is that I personally love hamburgers. Naturally, when I discovered Kochi’s delicious hamburgers, I was both surprised and very, very happy! Today I’d like to introduce three of Kochi City’s magnificent burgers.
The Many Faces of Katsuo
by Scott Parks
Several weeks before I came to Kochi, my father served none other than seared bonito for dinner one night at our home in the United States. He said he found it at Costco, and he asked if I would be eating anything like this once I got to Japan. I told him not to be silly because Japanese people eat raw fish, and this was only half-raw. Why would I find something like this in Kochi?? Little did I know, I was the silly one.
The first night that I came to Kochi, there was a welcome party for all new members of my program at Hirome Ichiba. Hirome can be a little overwhelming at first, but the big straw fire and long line of Myojinmaru caught my eye right away. And of course, everyone always suggests that first-timers start with one thing: katsuo no tataki. So I tried it, and it was delicious! You can imagine how surprised I was to find out that the fish my father fed me a few weeks ago was actually a Kochi specialty! With garlic, yuzu sauce, and sea salt, the katsuo I had at hirome was very different from the one I had at home. It was so good, that it quickly became one of my new favorite foods and convinced me that Kochi is a good place to live.
Soon after, I learned about Katsuo Ningen. What a great yuru kyara! In America, we don’t have yuru kyara to celebrate where we are from, so the idea of local mascots is already novel to me. When you take this novel idea and create something half-gross, half-cute to represent one of the most delicious foods in your prefecture, I’m all over it! Now I “follow” Katsuo Ningen on twitter and “like” him on Facebook, and his posts help me learn tosaben. I have a number of Katsuo Ningen paraphernalia, but my favorite is my stuffed animal because I can see the back of its head (where it was cut off) anytime I want!
My katsuo story started in America, and it has given me many culinary experiences in Kochi Prefecture. I even had the chance to cut and sear my own katsuo! Now I dream of the day that I can meet katsuo ningen in person. Then my katsuo journey that started back hoh my father can be complete.
My Favorite Place in Kochi
Take a look and enjoy!
by Scott Parks (USA)
One of the best places in Kochi is Kochi Castle. Not only is it a must-see for history buffs, but it is also straight-up beautiful. You can see lush greenery and statues of historical figures around the grounds of the castle, and the view from the top is breathtaking. Every time a friend visits me in Kochi, I always take them up to the castle. And of course, SGG offers friendly English tour guides every week, and I highly recommend them.
by Steven Yuen (AUS)
There're many great places in Kochi, but one that stands out in my experience here has to be Chikurinji, the quiet temple up in Godaisan. It has one of the most tranquil gardens in Kochi, and its beautiful pagoda can be seen from a distance as if watching over the town. To top it off, every so often they host a music night, where ethereal music flows through the wooden beams of the temple hall. I had one of my most surreal experiences there listening to a didgeridoo performance. Definitely keep an eye out for this talented temple.
by Lisa Yasutake (USA)
The place I have sudden urges to go to is the spacious and relaxing Panorama Café at the top of Godaisan. It’s a great place to enjoy the beautiful views of Kochi City while grabbing a light lunch or indulging in their yummy cakes, pies, or Godaisan Cream Puff!
by John Gallagher (Ire.)
My favourite place in Kochi is Hirome Ichiba, because
a) I'm an indoor type
b) it's cheap
c) it's cheerful
d) it's surprisingly international, in a nicely low-key way
e) it contains yakitori and
f) it contains beer.
So, that's six good reasons to check out Hirome Ichiba! I mean, seriously - what more do you want?
by Scott Bailey (N Zeal)
My favorite place in Kochi is the Niyodo River. The second largest river in Kochi Prefecture, Niyodo is a great place to escape the heat of summer as well as to enjoy swimming, camping, barbeques, hiking and throwing stones. Near the top of the river the water is teaming with fish while down near the river-mouth one can enjoy powerful Hawaiian style surf that is famous amongst surfers around the world.
by Don Mcquarrie (USA)
My favorite place in Kochi is Kagamino Park near the Kochi University of Technology (KUT). One may enjoy many beautiful scenes there, such as the steep Japanese bridge over the placid koi pond, the delightful hedge-enclosed garden, and the carefully tended trees. Most pleasant of all are the gentle, friendly people one meets.
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