The vast natural beauty of the Hata area in Kochi Prefecture offers countless activities to discover [PR]

Surrounded by all the glories of nature—oceans, rivers, and mountains—the Hata area is full of opportunities for exhilarating fun. Located in the southwestern part of Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku, it offers everything from canoe trips down the pristine Shimanto River to scuba diving and pleasure cruising in its coastal waters. The warm Kuroshio current that flows along Japan’s eastern coast brings with it all the delights of the ocean—from delicious seafood to lovely seaside accommodations.

Up for a canoe trip? Cycling along the banks? The Shimanto River is full of delights to explore.

There are six municipalities that make up the Hata region—the cities of Shimanto, Sukumo, and Tosa-Shimizu, the towns of Kuroshio and Otsuki, and the village of Mihara—and each of them offers countless opportunities for fun.

We’ll start by taking a look at the activities available around the pristine Shimanto River that flows through the center of the area. The most popular thing to do here is to take a canoe tour(English available) downstream along a 2.5-kilometer route. The views along the Shimanto as it threads its way through the mountains is sure to make you feel like an inseparable part of nature.

Rather stick to the land? A cycling tour (English available) along the banks of the Shimanto is the perfect way to get the body moving and get absorbed in nature. A great way to see the area is to rent bicycles from the Shimanto City Tourism Association and ride along the river to the Sada-Chinka Bridge for a 17-kilometer round trip. A chinka bridge is one that’s built without railings so that it can safely go underwater during a flood. The Sada-Chinka Bridge not only serves as a key route for local residents, it’s also one of the signature sights of the Shimanto river valley. Longer and located farther downstream than any other submersible bridge along the Shimanto, it affords sweeping views of this lazy, beautiful river.

In addition to its outdoor activities, the Hata area also has some unique and interesting experiences to offer at its artisan workshops. The tiny village of Kuchiyanai in the Shimanto river valley is home to the Kurogane workshop, which offers hands-on blacksmithing experiences for visitors (English available). Throw your weight into authentic blacksmith work as you strike a hammer to red-hot metal, creating a real kitchen or paper knife as the Shimanto flows just outside the workshop. If you’re looking to take home a souvenir that’s completely unique, this experience is for you.

Immerse yourself in nature with an ocean pleasure cruise or stargazing experience

Are you someone who likes to get out and move? Then Kashiwa Island (English services available) in the town of Otsuki is for you. More than a thousand species of fish live in its surrounding waters, making it a popular spot for scuba diving or for taking a glass-bottom boat tour (available in English). You can also catch a glimpse of the gorgeous coral through the clear ocean waters.

Want to keep up the action into the night? Then head out to Cape Ashizuri, located at the tip of the Ashizuri Peninsula in Tosa-Shimizu when the sun goes down. This promontory juts out into the Pacific Ocean, creating a natural planetarium (English services available) with views of a nighttime sky blanketed in stars and so close it feels like you could reach out and touch it.

Get your fill of delicious home cooking made with local ingredients in Sukumo and Mihara

The Hata area is a great place to enjoy some traditional homestyle dishes with their abundance of seafood. The fishing villages in Sukumo even offer cooking experiences led by the wives of the local fisherman. Relax and chat as you enjoy some of the special dishes you’ll only find in this area, like sea bream rice or minced fish tempura made with fish caught right out of Sukumo Bay.

Meanwhile, the village of Mihara has several farmhouse inns offering overnight packages that come with two delicious meals made with local fish and vegetables grown right there on the farm. You can also taste a type of unrefined sake called doburoku as you enjoy the warm hospitality of your hosts.

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To get to the Hata area from overseas, start at a major international airport like Narita or Kansai International, then get a connecting flight to Kochi Ryoma Airport. From there, you can take a train or other form of public transportation to Hata, or rent a car and drive there.

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