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Kochi’s Shimanto River vs. Niyodo River: Japan’s #1 Water Quality Challenges Japan’s Last Clear Stream

Many people will associate Kochi Prefecture with “The Shimanto River”. It is located in western Kochi Prefecture and is known nationwide as “the last clear stream of Japan” for not having any large-scale dam constructed in the main stream.

However, there is a new river that threatens the Shimanto River’s existence. And that is the Niyodo River. Located in mid-Kochi Prefecture, this river is coming to be known in Japan as “Niyodo Blue” for the clarity of its water, which has such a distinctive aquamarine color.

This time, we would like to introduce the two magnificent rivers in Kochi Prefecture, “The Shimanto River” and “The Niyodo River”.


Characteristic Features of the Shimanto River


The 196 km long Shimanto River takes its source from Mt. Irazu in Tsuno-cho, flows through Nakatosa-cho, Shimanto-cho, and Shimanto-city in Kochi prefecture, and is the longest river in Shikoku. It has been named one of the “Three Clear Rivers in Japan”, along with the Nagara River in Gifu Prefecture and the Kakita River in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is a top-level, grade one river and has also been chosen as one of Japan’s 100 remarkable waters and 100 mysterious lands of Japan.

Writer’s Photo

Katsuma Chinkabashi bridge is famous as a popular tombstoning spot. The river bottom deepens depending on the area so it is safe to dive in with a guide.

There are 47 Chinkabashi bridges (lit. ‘sinking bridge’) over the Shimanto River. Chinkabashi bridges are the bridges that sink below water when the water level rises. Chinkabashi bridges are representative of the Shimanto River. In summer, a lot of children can be seen tombstoning off the bridges which have no railings.

Writer’s Photo

It takes a lot of courage to jump off as the bridges are unexpectedly high.


Things to Do Around the Shimanto River

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You can enjoy canoeing, snorkeling, rafting, shrimp fishing and so on. During the half-day 6km canoeing, you can enjoy the picturesque views surrounded by the mountains. Map


What to Eat aAround the Shimanto River

Fishing has been a thriving industry along the Shimanto River since the ancient times. These days wild eel, ayu (sweetfish), and macrobrachium fishing is still being carried out. The wild eel raised in the clear stream of the Shimanto River are thick and juicy, definitely a must-eat dish.

Shimanto is also famous for the origin of “Aosa Nori”, dried laver seaweed. Tsukudani (seaweed that has been simmered in soy sauce and mirin) is the best match for white rice.

For the best dining from Shimanto, visit “Shimanto-ya”: http://www.shimantoya.comMap


Characteristic Features of the Niyodo River


Writer’s Photo

Niyodo River takes its source from Mount Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in Shikoku, flows through Ehime Prefecture, Ochi-cho and Ino-cho in Kochi Prefecture into the Pacific Ocean. It also is a grade one river and boasts the highest water quality in all of Japan. Its mysterious color of blue is called “Niyodo Blue” and has become to known nationwide for its beauty.


Things to Do Around the Niyodo River

Writer’s Photo

There are two ravines in the Niyodo River; Yasui Ravine and Nakatsu Ravine. The Niyodo Blue can be seen at Yasui Ravine, and “Uryu Waterfall” at Nakatsu Ravine.

Uryu Waterfall is called “Ryudosui” (dragon spitting water) for its majestic appearance. The view of the 20m drop with water sprouting in multiple directions is a masterpiece of nature. You may be able to spot a rainbow over the water depending on the weather and time. Map


What to Eat Around the Niyodo River

Writer’s Photo

“Ikegawa Chaen” a café in Niyodogawa-cho offers several sweets made from green tea leaves carefully picked by the local tea farmers. Parfaits with green tea flavored ice cream and jelly taste delightful. You can choose the flavor between Ho-ji cha and Kabuse-cha. The photo shows Hoji-cha parfait. Take a seat in the riverside patio to make the most of it.

“Ikegawa Chaen”: http://ikegawachaen.jpMap




Writer’s Photo

Hiburi-ryo is a traditional ayu fishing method in which fishermen hit the surface of the river to startle the ayu, waving the flaming torch and chase them into the net set up in the river. It is held during summer to early autumn both in the Shimanto River and Niyodo River.


Fireflies Dancing Wildly

Fireflies also can be seen both at the Shimanto River and Niyodo River. They create a fantastic atmosphere only in early summer between 19:00~21:00. You can enjoy the view of fireflies dancing wildly while cruising the Shimanto River on Yakatabune boat.

“Yakatabune Shimanto no ao”: http://www.shimanto-ao.comMap


We hope we were able to show the charm of the Shimanto River and the Niyodo River. Although we put “VS” in the title, it’s very hard to pick the winner as they both have its magnificence.

・The Shimanto River, the representative river of Kochi.
・The Niyodo River, the highest water quality in all of Japan.

Which would you like to visit?

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