Category: Kochi

While in Kōchi, I came across some manga (comic art) on the street, outside a school.  I originally posted them here, and while the meaning may in some cases be self-evident, the cultural differences can sometimes affect the interpretation:

In revisiting this post, I have, after some requests, translated the relevant text which should facilitate a better literal and cultural interpretation.  As my knowledge of Kanji is somewhat limited, I enlisted the aid of a japanese friend to assist.

The basic premise for this series of photos centres around an annual manga high school competition.  Each year, a different theme is chosen, and a winner is selected from the competing schools.  Let’s start with a basic overview by using one of the pictures as an example:

Below each photo, I have included the theme as a caption.  And now, on with the translation:

– 1992 –

Manga Contest

"The Most Important Day"

TV Audio:  “Today the last nuclear weapon in the world has been destroyed – no more nukes!”
The picture on the wall is of her son, who died in the war.

– 1993 –

Manga Contest


Vending Machine – ” Family Alpha”
Image on Side of Vending Machine – “Add hot water, ready in three minutes”
Vending Machine Audio – “Thank you very much”
Concept – Instant Family for a boy without one.

– 1994 –

Manga Contest

New Style Countryside

Sign – “Robot Farm”, “Do Not Enter”
Concept – More Farmers Needed

– 1995 – 

Manga Contest

New Media

Tombstone – Someones family cemetery (name written on top)
Girl’s Caption – “I wanna come and visit you grandmother”
Grandmother – “Oh, you cane come, but when you’re much older”
Concept – She’s calling her grandmother beyond the grave
Cultural Reference – White Kimono and white triangle cloth on her forehead means she has passed.

– 1996 –

Manga Contest


Concept – The kanji and face are morphed in this picture, with his expression mirroring the meaning of the kanji – in this case “to frown on, to be grim-faced, to look sullen”.

– 1997 –

Manga Contest

Carry Something

Upper Square – The dog cathers are saying “A stray dog!  Catch it!”
The dog expresses – “Uh oh!” and quickly brings out a ballon of the owner and blows it up
Dog Catchers – “Oh well, I guess he had an owner after-all”.

– 1998 –  

Manga Contest


Concept – A teacher uses a manual to try and nurture/teach a student (the plant) to grow a certain way, rather than letting it grow naturally.

– 1999 – 

Manga Contest

Power of Seniors

Caption – “Ah, you’re not ripe yet”
Concept – Pickled plums versus fresh plums (umeboshi) – takes a long time to get tasty
Cultural – Blue in Japanese (and Chineses) is also interpreted as green – i.e., immature.

– 2000 –

Manga Contest

17 Years Old

Caption – “Live Longer” – I hope you live longer, or keep on living
Concept – At 17, a dog is near the end of his life whereas for a person, they’re just starting it.

– 2001 –

Manga Contest


Mother – “Let’s stop this tradition”, while crying.
Father – “Ahhh… we have to do it”
Cub – “Papa!”, not really knowing what’s happening.
Concept – Time to grow up.  You need to let your child go, so that they can become stronger.

– 2002 –

Manga Contest

Real Intentions

Captions Left to Right
– “You can count on us, allow us to take responsibility” to retiring politicians,
– “Ah, I actually wanted to continue on”
– “Why do you get to stay, you don’t even have a moustache” – a moustache is a sign of a respected, mature member of society.

– 2003 –

Manga Contest

One of a Kind

Poster – Miss Art Contest
Comment Bubble(s) – “Everyone has good aspects”, “Yes, Yes, I agree”, “It’s natural that you cannot choose just one”
Concept – Judges can’t decide, since all are one of a kind.

– 2004 –

Manga Contest

Bushido - Samurai Way

Sign – Japan Carway (way rhymes – ‘do’, bushido)
Banner (left) – “Be careful speeding, go slow”
Banner (right) – “Safety is most important”.  The yellow/green chevron indicates a “beginner” driver in Japan.
Road Sign – Speed limit is 24

– 2005 –

Manga Contest


At work – While talking with your boss, the smile is fake, forced, a show of respect
Taking a walk – Tired of working, sees a both with his mother with a genuine smile
Thinking to himself – ‘What does it mean to smile?’

– 2006 –

Manga Contest


Concept – The development of man, from Hunter -> Gatherer -> Samurai (Nobleman) -> Warrior -> Businessman -> Otaku (Geek)

– 2007 –

Manga Contest

Generation Change

Concept – Times change, but the people don’t.
On TV – A Japanese Samurai Drama – a popular soap opera that’s been running for 20+ years

– 2008 – 

Manga Contest


Husband – “Delicious!”
Wife – making a homemade boxed lunch out of store bought pre-made lunches (bento box).
Concept – Who cooks anymore?

– end –


One of the reasons I arranged my schedule as it is was to ensure I was in town during the Sunday Market.  So this morning I headed out into the throngs of people and looked for two things – great photos, and lunch.  I managed both.

Break Time

Arriving I Tokushima, I checked into the hotel and went out for dinner.  Along the way, I took in the city at night, the only time I was apt to see it.

A dinner of shashimi moriwase, kaki, and edamame.  Tomorrow, I’m off to Mt. Koya via Wakayama on the early morning ferry.

Kōchi and Godaisan

A few kilometres from town is Godaisan, which happens to include a lookout over the city from a few hundred metres up, Chikurin-ji, Temple 31 of the 88 along the pilgramage, and the Kōchi Prefectural Makino Botanical Gardens.  I decided to spend the afternoon wandering around this area, and took the bus up.

The lookout point had a restaurant and shop, of course, but from the 3F level you had good views out over the city.


Apparently this is a popular spot for getting engaged.

Leaving a lock is supposed to symbolize the relationship lasting forever.  So…. who gets the key?  😉  And, what exactly does a combination lock signify?

Wandering through the temple grounds, I took in the five storey pagoda and Jizō.

The Botanical Gardens ended up chewing up a lot of memory card space.  A lot to see and take in, both inside and outside.  Cherry Blossoms were not yet in season, so most of these are of flowers.

I headed into town on the last bus, and decided to grab some dinner before heading back to the hotel.  Time to pack…

Kōchi Art Blocks

I wasn’t really sure where to place this one, so I am putting it in a separate blog entry.  While on my way to the Friday Market area as indicated on the tourist map, I walked by a school – and whether these are related or not I can’t say for sure.  But the first couple sparked my interest sufficiently that I decided to capture the entire set.  Perhaps those of you with Japanese skills can help me translate the captions for the rest of us.  But even without the translation, you should still find them interesting.

Presented in chronological order:


Kōchi is a city in the southern part of Shikoku, in a prefecture of the same name.  Looking at the rail system, a trip from Matsuyama to Kōchi via Uwajima might have been a better plan, but I wanted to be in Kōchi on the weekend when the bus service would be running more frequently and I could catch the Sunday Market.

I decided to grab an early morning train from Takamatsu so I could maximize my stay in Kōchi.  Ideally I wanted three days here, but to make my connection to Mt. Koya I would need a stopover in Tokoshima on Sunday.  Arriving around 10:30am, I dropped my luggage off at the hotel and headed out for some sightseeing.

Under the railway through town


First stop was the castle, Kōchi-jō, originally built in the 17th century and mostly intact – only one of about a dozen in all of Japan.  Looking at the map, I decided to take a detour on the way and head towards the location of the Friday market to see if anything was still going on.  Mostly a fresh produce market, there were a variety of items available for purchase – mostly food in one form or another.  What struck me was the women staffing the various stalls – they seemed almost from another time, like they’d been doing this for as long as the market had every been open.

From the market to the castle there were two shrines and a temple on the map – so I figured I might just as well take them in too.  Nothing too much of note different than other shrines and temples around Japan.

In case you’re wondering what the difference is, Temples are associated with Buddhism and tend to be larger and more elaborate, while shrines are associated with Shinto, a religion native to Japan that has more to do with day to day life than the afterlife.

A few blocks away I entered a park on the northwest side of the castle and wandered around for a bit.  A few photos of flowers, but nothing specific of interest.  Making my way towards the back entrance of Kōchi-jō, I could here a lot of yelling, some shrikes, and the distinct sound of two wooden staffs coming together.  Just outside the park area there appeared to be a five storey building with a lot of activity inside.  I can’t read the sign, but if I had to guess I’d say it was a martial arts training centre, and the activity I had heard was a group of women doing naginata.  Perhaps someone with Japanese skills can translate the signage for me to confirm.  That said, as a sport in grade or high school this sounds a heck of a lot better for you than wasting time playing dodgeball….

A hike up the hill to Kōchi-jō was next.  It was nice to see an actual castle with some original structure left to it, rather than a partial or complete reconstruction (please, stop it with the concrete).  The view from the top out of the city really helped confirm that we were literally surrounded by hills and mountains.

It was getting rather cold outside, and so I decided it was time to head out.  For those that don’t know, Kōchi is the hometown of renowned historical figure Sakamoto Ryoma, and the subject of a recent NHK JDrama (Japanese Drama) series I had been watching.  I wandered by his place of birth, and then headed to the museum around the corner.

Kōchi is a pleasant city to wander around in, with a nice vibe – big enough, yet with a small town kind of feel to it.  I met someone from Vancouver who was travelling around Japan as well, and from our discussion it sounded like he was thinking of staying in Kōchi to look for a job teaching english – he was that impressed with the city.

After the museum and checking in at the hotel, I headed out for dinner.  The speciality in Kōchi is katsuo tataki (lightly seared bonito fish).  I found a spot and for a change had fish – the special, plus some saba (mackeral) sashimi.

On my way back to the hotel, I took some photos of the locals doing their thing – cooking up sweets, cycling home, playing music, or drawing/painting.

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