Sakamoto Ryoma/Katsurahama Beach

Sakamoto Ryoma (1835-1867) was born in the castle town of Kochi in 1835. He was the man who created an opportunity to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate. While there were groups that were thinking of toppling the Tokugawa regime by force, Ryoma proposed overthrowing the shogunate in a peaceful fashion without war. The Tokugawa regime accepted his proposal and abdicated political power to the imperial court. He was active in many fields, and when he was 30, he launched Japan’s first shipping and trading company called “Kameyama Shachu” in Nagasaki. He is said to have been the first person in Japan to go on a honeymoon. He traveled throughout Japan in the last years of the Edo period until he was assassinated in Kyoto on his 33rd birthday. There are many spots related to Ryoma in Kochi Prefecture. He continues to attract new admirers for his dramatic life.
Because of his great achievements, a Ryoma festival is held on the Katsurahama Beach in Kochi City on Sunday around his birthday (Nov. 15) every year. During the festival, there are many events such as the unveiling and offering of a huge birthday cake and the performance of the traditional Japanese “Yosakoi” dance to celebrate Ryoma’s birthday.

The beach is one of the most picturesque spots in Kochi Prefecture. Located at the entrance to Urado Bay, it stretches in an arc between Cape Ryuzu and Cape Ryuo. A deep green pine grove behind the coast, five-colored beach gravel and the azure ocean chime perfectly with one another like a miniature garden to produce a stunning landscape. The beach has been known since ancient times as a popular venue for viewing the moon. The lyrics of “Yosakoi-bushi,” a traditional folk song in Kochi Prefecture, partly read: “The popular venue for viewing the moon is Katsurahama…” A bronze statue of Sakamoto Ryoma, who played a key role in overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate in the late 19th century, stands on Cape Ryuzu, situated at the east end of the beach, and faces the raging waves of the Pacific Ocean. The area around the beach is designated as “Katsurahama Park.” Many stalls and shops line the park, shared with the Tosa Dog Museum and the Katsurahama Aquarium. The Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum stands on the mountainside in the park.
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