Okumonobe and Teisumiyoshi are prefectural parks of outstanding natural beauty for which this beautiful, sparsely populated eastern part of Kochi Prefecture is known. Camp, hike, cycle, mountain climb or swim—the parks are yours to explore.
Eastern Kochi is served by two train lines (a local line operated by the Tosa Kuroshio Railway and the JR Dosan Line) and a multitude of local bus networks with relatively infrequent services. A rental car is recommended for extensive exploration.
For Okumonobe and attractions in that area, JR Tosa-Yamada Station on the Dosan Line is the transport hub with buses heading east into the mountains.
For Teisumiyoshi and destinations along the coast, take the Tosa Kuroshio Railway Asa Line originating at JR Gomen Station. The nearest station to the Teisumiyoshi park is Yasu Station (20 minutes from Gomen Station).
The mountainous Okumonobe area is dotted with campsites, often located close to scenic gorges and at the beginning of hiking trails. Some are little more than cleared sites with minimal facilities, while others have hot showers and on-site shops where you can buy food and rent equipment.
Riders' Inn and Befukyo Campground are sites where you can camp with little to no preparation. Both are manned during the day and have huts, barbecue areas, and running water. Of the two, Riders' Inn has the most extensive facilities and rents out sleeping bags, fans, heaters, barbecues and pretty much anything else you could possibly need.
There are many mountains trails to chose from in eastern Kochi varying from beginner-friendly to challenging. Mt. Shiraga (1769 meters) is one of the tallest and most versatile. For an easy hike on a well-maintained path, set out from the climbing gate on the mountain road linking Befu and Nishikuma gorges. The climb should take no more than an hour.
For something more testing, consider climbing from Dotoko Campground at the foot of the mountain. The trails are not as well-maintained, and the climb is strenuous. Set aside at least four hours for the ascent and ensure you are well-equipped with a map and proper hiking gear.
In addition to spectacular fall foliage, the gorges in the area are excellent spots for cooling off in the water. Waterfalls and swimmable lagoons add to the beauty of the surroundings. Befu Gorge is particularly pleasant with a hot spring hotel nearby offering an alternative to camping.
In stark contrast to the mountains of the Okumonobe area, Teisumiyoshi is a more-easily accessible coastal park with beaches for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing.
An excellent way to explore the park and seaside scenery is by bicycle. You can rent one from the Cycling Terminal, a multipurpose facility 25 minutes on foot or a short ride by taxi south of Yasu Station.
If you don't feel like cycling, there are plenty of walking routes, and you can even hike up into the coastal hills to find your own special spot to relax and take in the view.
Further along the coast in Kitagawa Village, you can find an unexpected slice of France in the form of Monet's Garden Marmotten. The gardens here have been painstakingly landscaped to recreate real-life versions of some of Monet's most famous paintings. For the novelty factor alone, they are worth a visit.