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Known as Tosa Province prior to the Meiji Restoration, Koichi Prefecture is located on the southwest side of the Island of Shikoku. Blessed with a beautiful natural environment, Kochi has the biggest land area but roughly tied with Tokushima for the least population among the four Shikoku prefectures. Much of its area is covered by mountains with many rivers flowing to the sea, including the Shimanto River, which is said to be the only remaining undammed river in Japan. Kochi has a population of 750,000 with just under half of these people living in the capital, Kochi City.
The majority of Koichi's economy consists of fishing and agriculture followed by other areas such as manufacturing of machinery, ceramics, soil, stone and forestry. As a remote rural area, there are only about 20 English conversation schools that hire native English speakers with most of them located in the capital city. Then there are about half as many other types of educational institutions that may hire foreign teachers.
Located in the downtown area of the capital, Kochi Castle is one of only 12 original castles remaiing in Japan. Katsurahama is a scenic beach about 30 minutes away from downtown Kochi. Strong current prevent swimming but there is a Ryoma Sakamoto statute and museum dedicated to this Meiji era figure from Koichi along with a small aquarium and shrine. Ryugado Cave is said to be one of Japan's top three caves. Mt. Godaisan just outside of Kochi City features Chikurin-ji Temple, Makino Botanical Garden and an observatory, and it is an excellent place for viewing cherry blossoms. Then there is a Yanase Memorial Hall & Anpanman Museum.
Koichi is home to a centuries old custom of dog fighting in Japan, which continues to the present day. The tosa inu or Japanese mastiff was bred from native Shikoku dogs adding some European breeds (mastiff, bulldog, etc.) to add size and strength. These events, which are entirely legal, take on a festival type atmosphere and are popular among locals who defend the practice as part of their cultural heritage. Some tosa dog fighting has spread to other parts of Japan while only a few prefectures, including Tokyo, have laws that ban dog fighting.
The Yosakoi Festival is a famed style of matsuri that originated in Koichi City and has spread to many other cities in Japan. Held annually in August, teams of dancers perform the yosakoi naruko dance along with floats that parade through the streets. Teams are limited to 150 people and more than 10,000 people participate. Other matsuri include the Dorome Festival in April, the Ekin Festival in July, Akiba Festival from Feb. 9 to 11, and the Kochi Castle Autumn Festival (Kagura show)
Koichi cuisine or "tosa ryori" was named as “the best local dishes” by a travel magazine. Much of this consists of locally caught seafood with katsuo-no-tataki (katsuo "pounded into pieces") at the top of the list. This is bonito or tuna that has been grilled, seared or served raw with thinly sliced onions, wasabi, shiso (perilla) and myoga ginger. Sawachi ryori (huge plate cuisine) is a seafood smorgasbord on a huge plate with various sashimi, shellfish, katsu-no-tataki and tai (sea bream). Hamo is dagger-tooth pike eel, which is caught locally in the summer, deboned, poached and served with an ume (plum) sauce, and utsubo karaage is fried moray eel. Then the area's ramen is called nabeyaki Ramen, which has thin al dente egg noodles in chicken broth with soy sauce and fish cake slices, onions and a raw egg added. Many deserts include local citrus products, including yuzu drinks named after the same fruit.