The Koban Area consists of Susaki City and four nearby towns; Tsuno, Yusuhara, Shimanto and Nakatosa. A car is necessary for effectively getting around in the Koban Area. Also, the restaurants covered below are by no means the only restaurants in each area, just the ones that have been visited and recommended by local JETs.
There are many places to visit in Susaki, like the Yokonami Sanri (横浪サンリ), Daizenji temple (大善寺), Taru falls (樽の滝), the Ootani camphor tree (大谷のクスノキ), among others.
Let’s start with the most famous shrine in Susaki, Otonashi jinja (鳴無神社), a shrine built in 1251, during the Kamakura era. The road approaching the shrine faces Uranouchi Bay which is quite rare for a shrine. The paintings on the walls of the Otonashi main shrine (本殿), may make you think of the paintings at Toshogu shrine in Nikko, if you have ever been there or seen pictures of it. This is not a coincidence because it has been painted in the same style (Sangensya-Kasuga-Zukuri style), a style from the Edo era. For a unique experience, pick a fortune slip (omikuji) from the shrine and place it in the ocean. After that you can sit on the stairs and relax by looking at the bay.
If you have the chance to go to Susaki around the middle or end of February, you can go to Sodayama (桑田山) and take a look at the Yukiwarizakura (雪割り桜) a kind of cherry blossom that blooms earlier than other cherry blossoms. It is said that they blossom when there is still some snow around. Usually, during the last Saturday evening of February or the first Saturday evening of March, the inhabitants of Sodayama organize the Candle Night Event (夜桜キャンドルナイト) where the Yukiwarizakura are lit up, making for some beautiful scenery. If you want to try some homemade sakura mochi, this place is the best time and place.
Susaki has a lot of places to eat, but the most famous locations are Hashimoto Shokudo (橋本食堂), which everyone says is the best restaurant in Susaki to eat the famous Nabeyaki Ramen (鍋焼きラーメン) and Ichiban Bune (一番船) if you want to eat some good sushi. If you want more ramen you can also go to Tontaro (豚太郎).
Tsuno has a lot of places to visit. If you enjoy new experiences and making things with your hands, you could try ceramic pottery making or check out a soba making experience. If you like experiencing mother nature, you can go to the Forest Therapy Road (森林セラピーロード) or the Nagasawa Falls (長沢の滝).
Summer in Shikoku is really hot and humid, and for people who like to go out and enjoy nature, this can be really tiring. But to escape from the heat and the humidity, why not go to the mountains? In Tsuno, you can visit Tengu Kogen (天狗高原), a high plateau which is part of the Shikoku Karst (四国カルスト) land form that lies along the border of Kochi and Ehime Prefecture. The heat and humidity is less intense this high up, and it it the ideal place to relax, enjoy nature and beautiful landscapes, and do some hiking. There are multiple courses to walk, starting at an hour and half for the shortest one, to four hours for the longest one. Near the parking, there’s a building with a restaurant, an ice cream shop, a souvenir shop and toilets. If you still have time, you can also pay a visit to cows in their pastures.
On rainy days or even on cold days, why not go to Riraku (里楽) a local health and welfare center? The entrance fee is 1000 yen, which may sound expensive but there are a lot of things to do. There is a 25m pool, a sauna, a jacuzzi, and a gym. Because the pool is indoors, you can also enjoy it during winter. This place is ideal for both people who like to workout and people who want to relax and just enjoy the sauna and the jacuzzi.
One highly recommended place to eat in Tsuno is Seiran no Sato (せいらんの里). The locals prepare a lunch buffet full of fresh vegetables.
There are a lot of things to see and do in Yusuhara, like going to the local pool, walking on Therapy Road, going to the onsen, and taking part in the Ryoma Dappan Marathon (龍馬脱藩マラソン) in October.
In Yusuhara you can find a magnificent library. The building’s architecture is unique with wood jutting out from the ceiling and large windows on both floors which provides a lot of natural light. If you like to read books or study in a library atmosphere, this place is the perfect place. If you want to take a break, you can go to the cafe corner on the first floor. If you want to talk with your friends, you can also use the communication lounge where you can bring in your own drinks and snacks.
You can also go and take a look at Miyukibashi bridge (神幸橋). This bridge is mostly made with wood from Yusuhara. The bridge crosses a river and leads to a shrine named Miyashima jinja (三嶋神社). The shrine is close to the road, but because you have to cross the bridge to get there, it feels as if the shrine is sunk into the surrounding nature.
In Yusuhara, you can try the delicious Dappan set meal (脱藩定食) for 1200 yen at Kusabuki (くさぶき). Yusuhara also has a lot of coffee shops where you can eat lunch, like Café＆Bar Hide Out (隠れ家的Café＆Bar Hide Out).
In this town there are also a lot of things to do and visit, such as shrines, the Kaiyodo Kappa museum (海洋堂かっぱ館), etc.
If you like visiting temples, in Shimanto town you will find the Iwamotoji temple (岩本寺), one of the sixteen temples in Kochi Prefecture that are part of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. When you enter the temple make sure to look up at the ceiling to see some beautiful art. The ceiling is divided into multiple sections, with each part containing a different painting. It is even possible to stay overnight at the temple, and in the morning you can take part in the chanting with the monks.
If you like camping, check out Sanseki Campsite (三堰キャンプ場) or Matsubakawarinkan Campsite (松葉川林間キャンプ場). Both campsites have facilities such as a cookhouse, toilets, a summer house, and parking. However, there are no showers. All of these amenities are free of charge.
If you are planning to eat in Shimanto Town, you can go to the Suehiro Dining Hall (末広食堂) and try their set meals or their daily special meal for a very affordable price. If you feel like Italian food, LO-CO has nice pasta and pizza.
In Nakatosa you can visit the Kochi’s oldest sake brewery (Nishioka Brewery) or the art gallery. For outdoor activities, there are a lot of things to do such as golf, walking around town with a guide (まち歩き), fishing, and more.
In Nakatosa you can find the Kure Taishomachi Market (久礼大正町市場), open everyday of the year. There you can mainly buy fresh fish, but some of the shops also make side dishes and dried fish.
One of the other nice places to go is Kuroshio Honjin (黒潮本陣). Kuroshio Honjin is a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, but you can also visit onsen without staying overnight. This ryokan was built in a Japanese style with a stunning view of the ocean. Here you can also experience grilling bonito for yourself.
If you want to eat in Nakatosa, one option is Omoya where you can have some Chambara shellfish or some fish belly. Another option is the Tanaka Fresh Fish Restaurant (田中鮮魚店). At this restaurant you can choose the type of fish that you want to eat in person before they prepare and cook it for you.
Thanks to Jennifer Vidal for contributing this article. (March 2020)