HAVING stayed in Shikoku Island, particularly Kochi Prefecture, for two weeks has given me the opportunity to explore the wonders of this business and leisure destination in Japan.
Shikoku is the smallest and least populated among the four main islands of Japan. It has four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi and Tokushima.
Despite its size, which is said to be at 18,800 square kilometers only, there is so much to enjoy in the area.
As Kentaro Murakami talked about the uniqueness of Seaside Gallery with us, the 15 delegates of the country to the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Knowledge Co-Creation Program (Young Leaders) on small and medium enterprise (SME) development and promotion course, we were awed at how he and his team were able to craft such an idea.
Yes, it is a gallery but there is no structure that we are talking about here.
With the slogan, "Our town has no museum. The beautiful beach is our museum," this Japanese four kilometer-stretch tourist destination lives by.
While walking along its beach line, you can be greeted by the gallery’s director, if you are lucky enough. No, the director is not human. As Murakami-san shared with us, the whales are actually the heads of the entire Seaside Gallery since they are the ones who have kept the beauty of the area all this time.
With the beach’s waves, it has also become a surfing destination. In fact, even if it was winter when we visited the place, a number of visitors still managed to enjoy surfing.
Apart from experiencing the beauty of the place, the Seaside Gallery has been famous for its annual summer event, the T-shirt Art Exhibition. More than a thousand of white shirts printed with different designs from all over the world are hung under the clear summer sky while being swayed by the summer breeze.
As what I have discussed in one of my past articles, the Kochi Castle was built in 1601 by Yamanouchi Kazutoyo in the region which was previously known as Tosa. The construction was started right after the battle of Shekigahara.
Summer is a great time to visit the place since aside from the castle itself, everyone can also enjoy the hanami or the world-famous flower-seeing when the famous Sakura trees (cherry blossoms) are in bloom.
If you are into caving, this can be your top destination. The Ryugado Cave is not your usual cave, though. It is one modern hollow on top of a hill.
Aside from having wi-fi (yes, you read it right), going up of the hill was never a struggle. All of us where brought up via an escalator. Going to and fro inside the cave was not difficult, too. With the help of stainless steel stairs, you can even go caving in your favorite gown and red stilettos.
Modernization in Japan has really reached its mountains and caves, right?
Experiencing Japanese culture
During our two-week stay in the area, we were given the chance to be with a foster family in a fishing village to personally experience Japanese culture.
Even if it was just for a night, we experienced how they live and how hospitable they are, just like us Filipinos. In fact, we were not only treated to a parade of sumptuous Japanese cuisine, but were also given omiyage (token) to show their appreciation for visiting them.
SMEs, the heart of Kochi Prefecture’s economy
Amid the numerous tourist destinations, Kochi Prefecture is a place to enhance one’s skills and knowledge as well.
With our visits to different small and medium enterprises, we have learned a lot from these homegrown economic drivers – from a famous ice cream exporter to their pasalubong centers and Shinkin banks.
Indeed, there is so much to enjoy and learn in Japan. To that, I say dewamata (see you), it will never be sayonara (good bye), Japan. Arigatougozaimasu (thank you so much)!
If you have special events and fashion tips to share or just want to discuss about any fashion-related concerns with me, you are always free to reach me firstname.lastname@example.org.