Summer Journeys – Kobe (神戸)

While Ruth, Jonas and I were in the Kansai area we also just had to pay Kobe a visit again, of course. I think it’s a pretty sure thing to say that Kobe is my favourite city in Japan and I wanted them both to get a glimpse of it. But considering that I’ve already written two articles about Kobe on this blog (3/2010, 5/2011) I didn’t want to repeat stuff and chose a few photos, which show a few different things  than before.

The first is the Ikuta shrine, which I seem to have left out so far, which is quite a shame. While this one is definitely not the biggest and most impressive shrine in Japan, it is one of the oldest and is also dedicated to the patron saint of Kobe. It is said to have been founded in the 3rd century by the Japanese Empress Jingū after her return from fighting in Korea, but noone knows for sure.

As you can see in the picture, we had really nice and pleasant weather and we even were a bit lucky, because there was some Shinto ritual going on inside the main hall. Of course we didn’t enter, but it was interesting to watch it for a bit. The priest was chanting in front of the altar and also performing a ritual cleaning of the guy sitting in the front row later. I have no idea what exactly this was about, but it’s also not the first time that I was able to observe religious practices in Japan. So the traditional religion is still pretty much alive here.

Of course we had to go to the port after that, but on the way we stumbled upon a small shop that I wouldn’t have expected there: a curry sausage snack bar! Besides the question, if the curry sausage was invented in Hamburg or Berlin, it definitely is a dish that is strongly linked with Hamburg in my mind and I definitely had to eat one! And it even tasted surprisingly good! The sauce was nearly perfact and only the sausage itself (although well-grilled) would have been better if they had used one of a different kind. Still really nice!

Now while I just mentioned us going to the port I’ll just skip this part here, because I didn’t make photos of things that you didn’t already see here. Instead I’ll do a small time jump and show you Kobe’s Chinatown at night, as I found that to be really nice place to be and the atmosphere seemed to be different than from the daytime.

Just look at the nice illumination and compare the plaza to the daytime when it’s totally crowded and you’ll notice how much more relaxed it is. Of course, the people wanting to sell their foods were still screaming like mad because it seems to be the thing to do, but it was still more enjoyable, I think.

Still, walking around all day, we were a bit exhausted in the evening and Jonas would also be leaving the next day to travel to Kyoto an his own while Ruth and I were going to travel to Mt. Fuji again. So the next day we brought Jonas to the station and spent some time in the city on our own before planning to catch the night bus in the evening. And we met up with Yoshino and Yannik in a nice café in Kobe, which had a relaxed atmosphere and a whole small bamboo forest in front of the entry. It was nice meeting them again 🙂

Did I mention I really like Kobe? 😉

Golden Week Journey – Days 4 and 5 (Kobe)

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, Yannik and I went to Kobe together, to visit Anju and Flo, who are also studying abroad right now. Although we missed one train in Umeda station in Osaka, we still made it in time  and arrived there at short past 1 in the afternoon. Our first discovery was a bakery, which called itself Köln (or Cologne in English), had a belgian flag above their door and was selling “Hausgebacken Brot”. It would’ve nearly felt like home, if these small inconsistencies weren’t that blatant ^^ To get to Flo’s and Anju’s dormitory, we had to do a 25-30 minutes-hike up the hill and as it was quite warm and humid and we were a bit packed with things it wasn’t the most pleasant hike I’ve ever done. Still, on top you have an amazing view over the city… or would have, if it wouldn’t have been so cloudy that day :/ But we didn’t care that much about it and startet our walk down to another train station (visiting the campus on the way), where we took our train to Sannomiya station and began our sightseeing-tour.

Most of you will remember, that I’ve also been to Kobe last year and we visited mostly the same spots: China-town, tha harbour, the Port Tower and the Mosaic Center. Down at the port, we met a guy, who was selling sausages and beer and instantly was talking about how famous his beer was and that it’s even well-known in Germany. We had to correct him a little bit on that part, although yes, Asahi is known in Germany, just not that well. His sausages were actually pretty small and coated in a sweat kind of fried bakery, which tasted a bit weird, to say it in a good way. Actually I don’t want to eat that again anytime soon ^^” We also visited the remnants of the old port, which was destroyed by the great Hanshin-Earthquake in 1995, which have sunk 1 or more meters during the catastrophic event. You can see it in one of the pictures below. Our last sightseeing-point was the Mosaic shopping center and Harbour Land next to it, both of which are really nice places to hang out and have some fun. Yannik and Flo even entered the gaming hall and shot down some terminators – you should’ve seen their concentrated looks 😀 When the evening came and we still were there, the lights turned to life in the harbour and created a beautiful scenery, even more beautiful than Osaka in my opinion, but I might be biased ^^

Parts of the old harbour.

The harbour in the evening – a beautiful image 🙂

The illuminated Port Tower.

So we walked back from the port through the now illuminated city and went to get some tabenomihodai, which is basically an all you can drink and eat offer in some restaurants. After some search, we found one, that only costed like 2300Yen, which is really cheap! Together we ate 13 pizzas, 2 plates of pasta and some appetizers before that – man, we  stuffed in the end xD Couple that with 8 drinks per person and the shop might stop offering that to foreigners very soon. If not, we’ll go there again, next time 😀

Eating a shitload of food – the plates startet to rise 😀

On Wednesday, Yannik, Flo and I went to Port Island which is, as the name says, a big island in the port area of Kobe and visited a big rock festival, called Comin’ Kobe. It’s a yearly event, where donations for benificial actions are collected – this year obviously for the people, who had suffered under the events of the 11th of March in Japan. They had 5 stages spread all over a big area, coupled with a lot of stands and additional events (even wrestling :D). We spent the whole afternoon there and listened to many different bands (although too many of them were a bit too metal-y for my taste) and had a great time there. Some fans where even creating sand storms by their dance moves, so we had to cover our mouths and noses with towels to be save from that ^^

In the main concert hall with the biggest stage of the festival. Some japanese band is playing, but they weren’t hardcore enough for Flo and Yannik 😛

Wrestling \o/

After these two days, Yannik and I returned to Osaka exhausted and tired, but these were two days well spent. I’d actually even say, that Kobe is my favourite city in Japan and should I live there in the future (who knows?), I’d definitely like to have my place there 🙂

Insider: Der große Schottinello aus Japan?! 😀

21st of March: Kobe

I just noticed, that I still haven’t finished the last article about my trip. Shame on me! … But I’ll do it now, to finish this little ‘story-arc’ 😉

On my last day in Japan, Nozomi and I visited Kobe, one of the cities where I’d like to study abroad next year. Getting there wasn’t as easy as we had though, because the last bus to Kobe in the morning drives off at 9:45 a.m. and we were about half an hour too late. I have no idea why there are no busses later in the day, but oh well… We took the train instead and managed to get there in about 2 hours if I remember it right. From the train station in Kobe we went to our first stop for the day, which was the Ikutajinja Shrine, where I finally saw my first cherry blossoms in Japan \o/

Right from the start, Kobe felt a lot more multicultural, international and buzzing with energy than Okayama, which had a more provincial and calm atmosphere. Which is nice, because if I’m actually going to study here, some action and a lot of different people would be a big plus. Going a little bit more into this aspect, we visited the China town quarter which was totally crowded with people, food and souvenirs and after that the port of Kobe. As someone liling in Hamburg, I’ve grown to really like a maritime flair in general and ports in special. I’ve put some pictures of this trip below, so you can get some impressions 🙂

So this was my last post about describing my daily trips in Japan for this vacation. But there’ll be a summary soon, covering some insights that I’ve gained and of course my impressions and opinions one my time there. So far thank you all for reading and commenting! It has always been nice to read and hear the thoughts from the other side of the globe 🙂