Kochi Sunday Market, Cape Muroto and Awa no Dochu
Leaving the michi-no-eki we drive into Kochi city and park in the castle car park. We want to explore the Sunday Market. This, D. informs me, is the largest in Japan with a history of more than 300 years.
Kochi Sunday Market. 高知日曜市
The stalls run down one side of the street but, Kochi has wide streets and a lot of open space. This means there is room for a double row of stalls and the punters to stroll down the middle. On display are antiques and junk, mostly junk.
A large number of stalls are offering all manner of knives, saws, hatchets and scissors, any kind of sharp object. Bonsai feature as well. Not so much the 200 year old variety but pop bonsai the 5 to 10-year kind. There are flower stalls, vegetable stalls, and fruit stalls. Also stalls selling ginger drinks and of course fish shops.
The place is thronged with people, but the stall holders are strangely passive. No “Irasshai, Irasshai”, no patter, no gravel voiced matrons. The stall holders mostly sit quietly waiting. One was actually asleep. So quiet, so unlike Ameyoko in Ueno.
Covered Fish Market ‘Hirome Ichiba’
After the stalls, we enter the covered market ‘Hirome Ichiba‘ with its numerous shops selling fresh fish. Mainly, however, the shops sell cooked food. Here are fried fish and chicken, pizza, Katsuo, Fish donburi, Ramen and a couple of Indian style places. Some of these shops have a few tables and chairs, or a counter of their own but, there are a couple of large areas of tables and chairs where food from any of the shops may be consumed. Beer and sake are flowing freely too, though it is still before midday.
We buy food and, to escape the smoke, withdraw to a nearby park to eat. This park is hosting a goldfish enthusiasts’ event and there are basins full of fancy fish spread around and a complicated system of hoses to keep the water aerated.
Cape Muroto and Kira Messe Muroto michi-no-eki
Lunch over and fish observed, we head down to Cape Muroto where we watch a sunset. The afternoon was bright and clear so no clouds to create an interesting sky. Very beautiful nonetheless.
After sundown, we make it back to Kira Messe Muroto michi-no-eki for the night. This michi-no-eki is right on the water. We park and watch the dying embers of the day, out over the Pacific, as we drink our beers.
The toilet is reasonable to good and, given the view, Kira Messe Muroto is an excellent place to stay. As the parking is under the pine trees, however, you do get a sticky windscreen.
Kukai’s Cave 空海の洞窟（御厨人窟、神明窟）
Leaving the michi-no-eki, we take R55 following the sea towards Anan. Our first stop is Kukai’s cave. Kukai, the famous monk, is supposed to have lived and attained enlightenment in these two adjacent caves at Cape Muroto.
It is possible to view the caves from the outside, but not possible to enter, at present, as there have been recent rock-falls. Nearby is the rock pool where Kukai is reputed to have bathed. I can only hope it was a lot cleaner in Kukai’s day. At this spot the cape is also noted for various geological formations which we observe with scant understanding.
Toyo Town umi-no-eki
On along R. 55, stopping for lunch at Toyo town Umi-no-eki. This place offered an excellent lunch for a very reasonable price and, it being a beautiful warm day, we were able to sit outside on a patio to eat in the sunshine. This Umi-no-eki sits in a very pretty cove with a sandy beach, famous for surfing too. A very pleasant spot but it has a campground and hotel so very popular and busy in summer, I expect.
Earth Pillars ‘Awa no Dochu’ 阿波の土柱
The rest of the day was spent driving R. 55 into Tokushima which was dull and frustrating. Then following R. 192 to view the Earth Pillars. These were not so exciting, as the abandoned hotel nearby suggests, but it gave us a chance to stretch our legs. So, we viewed them from the top, side and bottom, catching them just before the last of the sun faded. It took less than one hour to walk around the whole area.
Kotonami and Mima no Sato michi-no-eki
From the earth pillars we made for Kotonami michi-no-eki for a bath. The entrance to the bath suggested something grand but the entrance was something of an exaggeration. From the car park it all looks a bit tacky but, once inside, the onsen building it is very large and trying hard to be luxurious. But the initial car park impression is the more accurate.
There are a few shachuhaku people in the car park, but it is a walk to the toilet which is primitive. As we noted a brand new michi-no-eki on R. 12 we decide to head back to stay there.
This facility, Mima no Sato, is so new it does not show in the michi-no-eki guide for this year. We may be the first to stay here. It is in the town but has a huge car park away from the road. It is new modern and clean. As I write it is very quiet.
＊Epia Mikado onsen ; 600 yen / adult
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.