Kochi: A Retrospective

by Bruce Takeo Akizuki
Kochi, Japan -- Oakland, California

Click on images to see photos by photographers Bruce Akizuki, Johnny Ng, Linda Seto, and Richard Seto,
These photographs were taken in 1995 for the first Community Images trip to Japan. Seven years later I returned to Kochi, Japan in August 2002. These photographs are a remembrance of our first trip to Japan.

Kochi is a very special place in Japan:

  • You can visit an old castle called Kochi Castle that was first built in 1588 by Chosokabe Motochika, who once ruled Shikoku, and later rebuilt in 1601 by Yamanouchi Kazutoyo.
  • They have local revolutionary hero called Ryoma Sakamoto (1835-1867). He changed the course of Japanese history in the mid 1800’s during the Meiji Restoration.
  • Kochi served as the source of the freedom and people’s movement in Japan and one of the leaders was Inagaki Taisuke (1837-1919) who promoted the equality of people.
  • In 1880 Japanese women first attained the right to vote in Kochi by Kosunose Kita (1836-1920). However the women were deprived of their suffrage three years later. It wasn’t until 1945 that Japanese women truly had the right to vote.
  • Nakahama (John) Manjiro (1827-1898) was born in Kochi Prefecture, he lived in America and traveled the world. He was the first modern Japanese to acquire a global viewpoint.
  • They have a Sunday Market that has been around for over 300 years and houses over 600 booths.
  • There is a dish called Katsuo no Tataki – it is Bonito grilled lightly over a straw fire – very delicious!
  • Kochi people are very warm and kind people.
  • Makino Botanical Garden is a garden with 1,200 species in memory of world famous botanist Makino Tomitaro (1862-1957).
  • Ryugado Cave is one of the biggest caves in Japan -- it is thought to be 150,000,000 years old. They also found relics from the Yayoi Period roughly 300 B.C. -- 300 A.D.
  • Kochi’s Yosakoi Festival is a modern, colorful, and energetic summer festival emphasizing the new Japanese culture. About 150 teams composed of 15,000 people participate in brightly colored costumes. The dancers clap naruko (painted wooden clapper) as they dance behind live bands.
  • The men and women of Kochi look forward towards the future and step forward when change is needed.

Biography of Bruce Akizuki:

Photographer for over 15 years. Founder and coordinator of Community Images, a community-based photographic program in San Francisco since 1992.

by Linda Seto
by Richard Seto
by Johnny Ng
by Bruce Akizuki