At the eastern most tip of Shikoku Island is Muroto, a seaport city in Kochi with breathtaking nature- where the sky meets the ocean. It was here that the Kukai, a monk and later Buddhist saint from 8th century, attained enlightenment in a cave, and saw the sky and the ocean which he named himself after.
On the way to Muroto
We went on a day trip on a early July Saturday. It takes around 2 hours by car from Kochi city, and it is a nice drive along the Pacific coast. On the way, we stopped by a rest stop called Kiramesse where they have a delicious fresh cream gelato.
40 years ago, my mother was told by her classmate that the Muroto Skyline has fantastic views, so we went. However, the trees had overgrown and covered all views the road may have had so many years ago. There was an observatory called “Lover’s Sanctuary“, which again covered with overgrown trees but offered nice views of the mountains and the ocean. It is only a short walk up a few flights of stairs. There are a colony of cats by the parking lot.
From there we were finally at Muroto-misaki, the tip of the island. The rock formations by the water at Kanjogahama Beach is slippery to climb but has really unique textures. You can learn more about why the strations formed the way they are in these rocks in the Muroto Global Geopark Center. There are dried corals that have been washed up too! Beware of the little bugs skittering about..
Go north a bit and there is the famous cave that Kukai had his enlightenment, Kanonkutsu. The scaffolding built by the entrance of the two caves that shelter potential folding rocks destroys the view of the sky and water that is supposedly seen very clearly from the cave. Apparently there are times when the sunrise aligns perfectly from the cave.
Now lunch time!
We made a reservation for Kagetsu in Muroto Town. They are famous for their kinme-donburi (golden eye snapper sashimi over rice), but I had the seafood-donburi and tried a bit of the kinme too. Both delicious! The kinme-don comes with ochazuke: you can pour tea over the rice at the end.
After being full and rested, we headed to the elementary school aquarium: basically, a closed school was converted into a low-budget aquarium filled with fish that were accidentally captured by the town’s fishermen. This location was the most crowded and popular of the sites so far, filled with young couples. It reminded me of the elementary school I went to for a few summers in Kochi, so there is a nostalgic component to the aquarium. There was also a special exhibit of the large amounts of garbage that are captured.
After this, we briefly stopped by the Geopark Center before heading back to the city. It was a lot of sightseeing for one day! You could probably stop by even more sights, like the dolphin center, if you stay one night, but we think a short day trip is plenty to enjoy Muroto. If you ever are in Kochi prefecture, pay Muroto a visit!