A Taste of Kobe (Day 1)
I am the worst at directions. Literally, you give me a map and even outline the way I am supposed to go, I will still find a way to get lost.
And that is exactly what happened when I left the Kobe Information Center.
Luckily, we somehow found the Docomo Shop (that was my landmark so I knew I was going the correct direction), and started on our way to Ikuta shrine. The whole street leading to the shrine was filled with Izakayas (Japanese bars) and restaurants.
Oh, look! Tokyu Hands! That means we’re close! Take a right and…
It turned out that the shrine was preparing for the festival that was going on from the 3rd until the 5th. Too bad we were too early to see the festival.
We did get to see some people praying Oinori, and when we were leaving a priest was playing the flute.
We used the City Loop bus to go to our next stop, The Mosque. It costs 260\ per ride for adults, so we opted for the one day pass at 660\ (a great deal if you are thinking of using the bus as a main source of transportation).
Interestingly fun fact, as of June, free Wi-Fi is available on the bus. The city also offers an app in 5 different languages (Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean) to help tourists find maps and visitor centers as well as tax-free shops and ATMs that accept foreign cards.
On our way to The Mosque, the bus attendant started explaining the surrounding area and its significance.
We arrived at The Mosque and took some quick pictures of
the outside, then continued on our trip, boarding the City
Loop once more, to get to our next destination.
The Marina Statue.
The Marina Statue is used to signify the exact time when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Kobe back in 1995. If you look closely at the clock in her arms, you will see that the time was 5:46 am.
We took a bit of a stroll around, and one thing that caught my attention was this board covered with what seem to be wishes written on wooden cards.
Here’s a snap of the exterior of The Great Hanshin Earthquake Memorial. The way the water is falling, it looks a lot like a waterfall of tears. This memorial was very moving.
Inside the memorial, there are a few things you should take notice of. This sign right here basically gives a count of how many people died, lost their homes, had to move because their homes were destroyed, rebuilt their homes, and worked as disaster relief volunteers.
Also, there is a list of all of the known victims of the earthquake.
During holidays, the room is so full of gifts and flowers that you can barely move inside the already tiny space.
You may be wondering what those long colorful things are. They are strings of cranes. They are actually called Senbazuru (a thousand folded cranes), and are usually given to the sick as a way of wishing them a fast recovery.
The third metal container to the right held a plant that must have been placed there in remembrance of someone’s birthday
Outside there is a small black lamp held inside of a glass case People gather there every year on January 17th to commemorate the lives and homes lost during the earthquake.
It has an explanation in both English and Japanese
At heart I am a huge foodie, and Japan is like a cheap, delicious meal paradise for me! Chilled Butakakuni ramen noodles for 250￥ and a bottle of water for 100￥? Sign me up!
Of course they have a variety of other equally, if not more, delicious foods on sale, such as Butaman, a bread filled with deliciously seasoned ground pork, and the famed Kobe beef. If you couldn’t tell, the decision was tough.
Shop keepers were out on the streets advertising their delicious offers. Inside plastic display cases were Mapo tofu, Ramen, Chahan, and all kinds of Wafuu Chinese cuisine replicas of items on each restaurant’s menu, realistic
enough to make your salivating mouth turn into the Niagara Falls. I have reached paradise.
Here’s an interesting fact about Nankinmachi.
Their Peaking duck is actually imported directly from China, so you are guaranteed to be eating the real deal (yum yum!)
Here’s a picture of the Center of Nankinmachi. It has a pavilion surrounded by stone Chinese zodiac statues and is a good place to just relax a little if the shops are too full.
The super cheap Butakakuni Ramen noodles I was talking about earlier. It was so delicious! We really enjoyed it.
And of course, a picture of the place we went to to eat them. Can you see the beer ad with Takigawa Christel?? I swear I see her everywhere here!
Using that faithful City Loop bus, we headed off to Port Tower.
The top floor has a bar where you can look out and see the port as well as the cruise ships arriving to the port. I bet it would be beautiful at night.
While we were taking pictures, an older man came over and started talking to us about the weather and asking me where I was from and why I was in Kobe.
He told us about the Fireworks that would be on display on the 8th of this month. (which I went to!!)
Our next stop was Mosiac. They had a Snoopy Shop!!
Of course I know someone who is an avid Snoopy fan, so I had to stop there to pick up an omiyage for them.
Since the sun was so strong, I needed to get a higasa, or a sun umbrella. I got it from this place. Super cute and not that expensive.
The restaurants on the 3rd floor are extremely multi-ethnic. Go Kobe for being diverse!!
They have everything from Brasilian and Italian, to classic Japanese and Indian. They also have Frantz (a famous Japanese café and yogurt shop) as well as a recently opened and equally well known café called A La Champagne.
There is even a wedding hall, Just in case you want to get married while you’re here.
We walked through Umie, a local mall, on our way to our next stop. Umie has a veriety of different types of clothing shops as well as some swank looking cafes. I thought fancy looking cafes were only a Korean thing, but I guess I was wrong.
They also offer tent space for local merchants. It changes weekly or monthly depending on the event.
Finally we arrived at Minatogawa Shrine!
Just so you know, the place where you purify is actually in the middle of the shrine.
This Shrine is arguably the oldest shrine in Kobe. You can tell just by looking at the coloring. In traditional Shinto Shrines, the colors are more subdued. Japanese shrines didn’t start to get colorful until Buddhism was introduced into Japan.
This is the main Shrine building. They have a map near the entrance that explains were each building is located in the Shrine.
That is how big Minatogawa is.
The handy-work of these places always amazes me. This roof was hand painted.
Yes. As in. Someone made all of these pictures.. by hand
Some Kanji, super old. I had to take a picture. You don’t get to see these every day… or at least… I don’t.
And here, we have the entrance to an Inari shrine.
You can find these in almost every Shinto shrine in Japan. Usually it is signified by one or a series of red gates called Tori, and stone statues of foxes holding a veriety of different objects in their mouths.
Not very many Japanese even know what Inari is, so let me explain a bit. A lot of people associate Inari with being the god of Hemorrhoids. Yes. I said it. They think Inari is the god you pray to when you don’t want to bleed from your butt.. but that is not the case.
Inari Okami is the Japanese god of foxes, fertility, rice, tea and sake, agriculture, and prosperity. Inari uses white foxes as messengers, thus the stone foxes you will always find at an Inari shrine. On the right is a picture of a cute mini Inari Shrine located inside of the Minatogawa Shrine. Cute, huh? Adorned with a cup of Sake, a mandarin, a mini bell and two lamps. Super cute. I want to take it home with me.
After visiting Minatogawa we decided to head back to Sannomiya and call it a day.