Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower (Photo: r18 INO (PACHIMO) / CC BY 3.0)

Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower

A retro underwater experience

Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower (Photo: r18 INO (PACHIMO) / CC BY 3.0)
Chiara Terzuolo   - 2 min read

The Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower is part of Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park. This charmingly retro structure was built in 1972, and for decades was an important tourist attraction for both visitors and locals.

Everyone would come to climb down into the foot of the tower to see sea turtles, mantas and all sorts of other fish swimming by the porthole windows. If you prefer to avoid zoos and aquariums, this is a safe option as all the aquatic creatures come and go as they please. It is a restful experience for the visitors who continue to drop by today, who can sit and watch the vibrant sea life go by.

The Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower, located on the Tatsukushi Coast, is surrounded by fantastically shaped rocks that were carved by the waves. You access the tower via a narrow bridge that stretches high over the waves, which gives the underwater observation tower the look of the lair for a sea-loving villain from a James Bond movie.

The red and white cross-shaped tower is one of the most unusual spots in Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, and is apparently also one of the few remaining buildings of its kind in Japan. The area is protected as the Tatsukushi Marine Park, and is home to one of Japan’s largest coral reefs where you can see many different types of colorful fish and shellfish that thrive in these waters thanks to the warm current all year round. Tatsukushi was the first park of its kind to be designated a National Marine Park.

Visitors can take a glass-bottom boat cruise to see the vibrant marine life under the clear sea, without having to get wet. The intricate details and textures of mammoth coral reef clusters just below the surface are quite mesmerizing, plus the boats will take you across the waves to explore a little bit of the wild coastlines that characterize this marine park.

Getting there

Public transport: From JR Kochi Station, get off at Nakamura Station on the Tosa Kuroshio Railway. Then board a Kochi Seinan Kotsu bus bound for Ashizuri-misaki. Get off at Shimizu Plaza Pal bus stop (about a one-hour ride) and transfer to a bus bound for Sukumo Station. Get off at Ashizuri Kaiteikan Mae bus stop.

Car: A 90-minute drive from the Shimantocho-Chuo Exit on the Kochi Expressway.

Chiara Terzuolo

Chiara Terzuolo @terzuolo.chiara