Kochi Prefecture, the Chicken Kingdom
Kochi prefecture is located on the island of Shikoku and is known for many things such as its friendly locals, Sake, and Kastuo Tatataki(lightly broiled Skipjack Tuna). From the title, you shouldn`t be surprised to hear me say it is also famous for its breeds of chickens. There are 38 heritage breeds chickens in Japan and 8 of them come from Kochi Prefecture. Kochi not only has a large number of varieties but they are unique in their abilities, appearance, and even taste. There is the beautiful Totenko, a long-tailed ornamental chicken that can crow for up to 20 seconds. It must be fun to live next to them.
There is the Tosa-Jiro while it lacks Totenko`s beauty it makes up for it with its delicious eggs and….meat. Dishes made from Tosa-Jiro meat are a speciality in Kochi.
Last up is my favorite, the Tosa-no-Onagadori. This rooster is pure elegance, it has a tail that can reach up to ten meters(32 feet) in length. It was bred specifically for its extremely long tail. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Regardless, they are very beautiful to look at unless you are the one in charge of grooming them and keeping their tails clean.
Even if you don`t know any farmers in Kochi prefecture, there a couple of places where you can see these magnificent poultry in person. I will go through four of these places. These range from breeding centers, a chicken cafe, and even a shrine with chicken imagery.
Nagao Chicken Center
In Nankoku City, the homeland of the Tosa-no Onagadori, there is a special museum devoted to them called the Nagao Chicken Center. Here you can see many lives Tosa-no Onagadori and marvel at their exceptionally long tails. The center specializes in breeding them. Admission is 800 yen for adults and 400. A guided tour is included with admission.
Ryugado Cave Rare Hens Center
Close to Ryugado cave(about 40 minutes from Kochi city) is the Ryugado Cave Rare Hens Center. This a center that houses not only the Onagadori but also many rare and unique varieties of Chicken designated as natural monuments in Kochi. Admission is free.
Cafe Ayam-The chicken Cafe
Cafe Ayam is a cafe near Ryugado cave based on a cafe in Bali, Indonesia. Ayam means Chicken in Indonesia. The dishes at the cafe make liberal use of the eggs from the Tosa-Jiro chicken. Their eggs are a bit smaller than average but make up for it which a very rich yolk. Tosa Jiro is a small red chicken that was created in Kochi prefecture as an egg-laying chicken but now is often used for meat as well.
The cafe goes beyond just egg dishes, you can also meet and play with chickens in a space outside of a cage. Cafe Ayam is the first Chicken Cafe in Japan(I think it may be the only one but I am not sure). You can pet and play with Petit-Cocco, a variety of hen developed 20ish years ago by the Natl. Inst. of Animal Industry in Kochi prefecture as a pet. Petit-Cocco are very friendly, docile, and entertaining to watch.
Kochi Daijingu Shrine is a small shrine in Kochi city close to the castle. The first thing you will notice in Yosakoi Inari Shrine is the crowds who can be rather noisy and frankly pay little regard to others’ personal space. They are quite fowl and I am not egg-xagerating. Ok, I am talking about chickens especially roosters that free roam the shrine grounds. There were scores of chicken meandering around without a care in the world. There were chickens in cages as well. This not common at Japanese Shrines and I am unaware of any other “chicken shrines” in Japan.