Kochi Prefecture in southern Shikoku has teamed up with Osaka Convention & Visitors Bureau to encourage inbound visitors travelling in Osaka to make a short trip to Kochi and other parts of Shikoku.
Kochi welcomed a mere 60,000 international visitors in 2019, compared to Osaka’s 12.31 million, prompting the prefecture to try new ways to attract arrivals amid Japan’s rapid tourism recovery.
The partnership’s primary promotion tool is a website with the tagline Japan’s Best Kept Secret: From Osaka to Kochi, the Heart of Shikoku, designed to “showcase ideas for side trips off the beaten track from the popular Kansai region”.
The platform outlines four types of routes that travellers can take to make the most of the area based on their interests and mode of transport.
The adventure expedition suggests travellers use Kochi as a base for rafting, canyoning, canoeing and SUP experiences on three of the main rivers on Shikoku: the Niyodo, Yoshino and Shimanto. The rural expedition introduces Shikoku’s famous Iya Valley and Shimanto River Valley, while the blue route outlines how visitors might explore the wider region, including the sights of Okayama on Honshu and the famous whirlpools of the Naruto Strait.
The fourth expedition, for drivers, provides tips on renting a car and exploring remoter spots such as Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park and Kashiwajima island, as well as hot springs, temples and local markets.
“Getting here from cities like Osaka and Kyoto is actually quite easy,” said a Kochi Prefecture spokesperson. “There are frequent bullet and express train links, which also happen to cross some of the most scenic parts of Shikoku, such as the Oboke and Koboke gorges, and visitors can easily explore by renting a car and driving across the mighty bridges that connect Shikoku to the mainland.
“Kochi Prefecture looks forward to welcoming a growing number of visitors in search of a more peaceful and natural experience on the country’s smallest main island,” the spokesperson added.