Adventures in Kobe: Nada and Mt. Rokko
For our second day, we decided to rent a car so that we could enjoy a different side to Kobe, with the freedom of coming and going when we wanted. A lot of the places that I wanted to go were up in the mountainous side of Kobe, so a car was definitely a necessity.
First we drove to Nada, which is one of Japan’s major sake producing regions. I decided to visit the Kikumasamune Sake Museum, which is the producer of my favourite sake, Hyaku Moku.
At the museum, there were displays of the sake brewing process, with many traditional brewing tools on display.
There was also a tasting area, where you can sample up to five different types of sake that Kikumasamune produce. Even though it was only 11:30 in the morning, I still took up the challenge to try all of them (fortunately I wasn’t the designated driver for today). Nothing beat my beloved Hyaku Moku though. Thankfully it was on sale in 1.8L bottles.
After that, I was feeling a bit lightheaded from drinking in the morning, so we took a much-needed coffee break at the Art Café just down the road.
The comfortable seats and sunlight streaming in through the huge windows were perfect for a quiet break.
Next we drove up to the Rokko Cable Shita station at the bottom of Mt. Rokko, where we ditched the car temporarily to catch a cable car up the mountain. It’s the peak of autumn at the moment, so the mountain was blazing with vibrant red and gold hues. The cable car itself was old and charming, and we sat in the open-air seats and breathed in the cool autumn air as we rose past autumn colors and breathtaking views of Kobe city and the ocean.
At the top, we had lunch at the Tenran café, which is a part of the observation deck – which means that the view was amazing. The café was on the edge of the mountain, and the terrace seats boasted an extensive view of Kobe, Awaji, Osaka and Wakayama.
I had curry for lunch, and it was delicious.
The weather was perfect, and it was a lovely day to bask in the sun and admire the view. Even though it was a Saturday, there wasn’t too many people around.
After lunch we caught the cable car back down the mountain, and were reunited with our car. Wanting to enjoy more of the autumn leaves, we drove leisurely through the mountain roads that wind through Mt Rokko.
The next destination was the Kitasuzu Batting Center, which is another of Japan’s quirky pastimes. The lack of space in Japan creates a need for compact-sized sports centers where people can either perfect their technique or just vent their anger.
Today’s goal was to improve my batting skill. Unfortunately, due to a severe lack of batting and perhaps not the most appropriate attire, I didn’t hit as many balls as I was hoping to. Nevertheless, it was great exercise and a lot of fun.
The temperature dropped as soon as the sun went down around 4:45, so I needed something warm to soothe my body. To fulfil my need for a piping hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen, we headed up further in Kita-ku, to Hokkai Ramen in Ogo. Hokkai Ramen is a chain of ramen restaurants, and we deliberately went to one that would require a drive through some more mountains.
The ramen was delicious! Tonkotsu is the best.
After that, the plan was to end our long day of sightseeing by having a soak in the onsen. The onsen that we went to is called Suzurann, in Kita-ku. It’s a beautiful onsen that has a really mystical atmosphere at night, set back from the road and filled with soft lights. The onsen itself has two saunas, numerous indoor baths, and about four rotenburo (outdoor baths), where you can relax and gaze at the night sky. It’s open until late at night, so it’s perfect for a detour on the way home after dinner. There’s also a restaurant and a relaxing nap room, made of tatami.
Of course, photography within the onsen is prohibited, so I only took a single photo from the entrance.