Experience Kobe from its tradition, modernity, multiculturalism, and nature (Day 1)
I started off my day at Arima Onsen, one of the most famous hot springs destinations in Japan. It’s a nice and laidback town that does get lively on weekends with tourists from all over the country coming to visit.
Street in front of Arima Onsen Station.
I took a stroll along the stream that goes through the town and found myself at one of the most famous hot springs in Arima Onsen.
Kin no Yu, or literally translated as golden bath.
I highly recommend hot springs for an authentic Japanese experience. But since I haven’t had breakfast, I decided to visit a bakery just around the corner from Kin no Yu.
Pao de Beau
They’re opened from 9am to whenever their bread and pastries sell out.
Seems like they even have a hot spring salt and caramel flavoured ice cream here!
They’ve got a wide selection of bread and pastries to choose from, and they’re all freshly baked in store on the day! I asked for recommendations and the staff highly recommended the Japanese Pepper bread, so I went with that as well as a sweet potato Danish.
If you’re eating in, they’ve got a café just behind their bakery.
I was really impressed by the sweet potato Danish. It was sweet but not overly sweet.
There was a mild fragrance to the Japanese Pepper bread and the pepper wasn’t too overpowering.
But since I have a sweet tooth, I really enjoyed the sweet potato Danish.
They actually use whole peppercorns for the filling of their Japanese Pepper bread.
The interior of the café made me feel very at home.
After breakfast, I took a walk around the town.
It takes about an hour to leisurely cover the main streets of Arima Onsen.
The traditional houses that still exist in Arima Onsen, is one of the features that draw tourists to the area. It does make you feel like you’ve stepped back into time.
There’s also an ashiyu, or foot bath, another pastime of the Japanese.
After I was done with the ashiyu, I headed off to Sannomiya in search for lunch.
In Sannomiya, you will be spoilt for choice as there are so many restaurants and cafes.
You can find anything from fast food chains to high class restaurants that serve Kobe Beef.
However, I wanted to have something Japanese, so I went for sushi. Sushi Miyabi offers lunch sets from 900 yen and it includes a soup with your main meal. The Nigiri-ichi-ten-go-bai, or ‘Nigiri sushi 1.5x’ (1050 yen) is the most popular item on the lunch menu as it is just 150 yen more than the standard nigiri set, but with 1.5 times more nigiri.
Nigiri is a kind of sushi with a pillow of rice on the bottom, topped with an ingredient (usually raw fish). The type of fish you get will depend on the catch of the day.
I wanted variation so I went for the Nigiri-maki set (1000 yen). With the Nigiri-maki set, you get a variation of nigiri, maki (sushi rolls cut up), and a soup.
Pardon my finger! I was too excited to get into my sushi that I took this really quickly.
Although the shop is small with only counter seats available, waiting times are short since sushi tend to be eaten quickly in Japan. In fact, they were once called the fast food of Japan!
After I was done with lunch, I ventured into one of the main shopping streets in Kobe, the Sannomiya Center Street.
Sannomiya Center Street is filled with a variety of shops like tax-free pharmacies (called drugstores in Japan), second-hand bookstores, 100 yen shops, accessories, socks, apparel, furniture, and the list goes on.
When you come to the end of Sannomiya Center Street, you will arrive at this intersection
that is a smaller version of the famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. This intersection is actually the filming location for many Japanese movies, in place of Shibuya crossing, due to its smaller scale and thus easier control of traffic and crowds.
After crossing the intersection, you will find yourself walking through Kobe Motomachi.
Motomachi is the next district from Sannomiya before you hit the port.
When walking through the street, you will be able to spot the Kobe Port Tower perpendicular to Kobe Motomachi, so you will never get lost!
If you’re walking through Kobe Motomachi, you may want to visit Nankinmachi, the
Chinatown in Kobe. Not every city in Japan has a Chinatown and the only ones that have it are all ports where Chinese merchants settled when Japan opened their ports to foreign trade in the past. They are Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki. Whenever I ask the locals for recommendations on places to go in Kobe, Nankinmachi will always on the list. So if you’re visiting Kobe, why not stop by Nankinmachi? That way, it’s like you’ve covered Japan and had a taste of China in just a day!
There are a variety of Chinese cuisines like Beijing, Szechuan, Cantonese and Shanghainese.
There are also a few Chinese supermarkets.
Then I came to the end of Nankinmachi and headed towards the port.
After a 15-min walk, I arrived at Kobe Port Tower.
I got up to the observatory deck of the Kobe Port Tower and had a 360-degree view of the city. They also have a revolving restaurant in the tower that spins all around, allowing you to have a full view of the city while dining.
I might actually come back again for that experience!
View of the tower from the entrance/exit.
Panoramic view of Kobe’s port area where you can see the three main landmarks (from left): Kobe Port Tower, Maritime Museum and the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel.
After leaving Kobe Port Tower, I visited the Kobe Maritime Museum and Kawasaki Good Times World.
Both the Kobe Maritime Museum and Kawasaki Good Times World are situated in the same building.
The Maritime Museum opened in 1987 to celebrate the Port of Kobe’s 120 th anniversary since the port was opened in 1868. This is a model of the Rodney, flagship of the British squadron that arrived at Kobe Port to commemorate the opening of the port on 1 January 1868. The museum also holds valuable ship records, navigation instruments, and videos that make the whole experience so much more interactive.
The Kawasaki Good Times World also showcases models of different machinery, helicopters and jet skis. I was able to hop onto a stationary motorcycle for a simulated ride!
Then I realised…the structure of the Maritime Museum is actually of a ship’s sail!
When I left the Maritime Museum, the sun was slowly setting.
Then I went on the Kobe Bay Cruise for a ride around the port of Kobe.
With clear skies and great weather, I was lucky to catch such an amazing sunset!
This was as far as the cruise would go. Far in the distance, you can see the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world!
Pity the cruise didn’t get up much closer.
The cruise then headed towards the Kobe Ohashi Bridge.
We went under the Kobe Ohashi Bridge just when it lit up!
Then we got back to Mosaic, one of the main shopping centres around the port.
And it was time to get ready to dock.
I was on the Royal Princess (45-min ride) which leaves at 45 minutes past the hour. The other cruise is called Ocean Prince (40-min ride) which leaves at 15 minutes past the hour.
They cover mainly the same route with the only difference being the Ocean Prince not going past the Kobe Ohashi Bridge.t
I thought the Kobe Port Tower looked better at night!
For dinner, I visited Hanamizuki in Mosaic for hand-kneaded soba (buckwheat) noodles.
They are also famous for their tempura and rice dishes as well.
I strategised and tried to get everything that was popular on the menu. I had a mini tempura rice bowl and a set of hand-kneaded soba noodles. Dipping sauce and garnishes came with the soba noodles to create a different experience with every plate of noodles.
You can mix and match the garnishes or just have the lot!
After dinner, I was heading back to Sannomiya and couldn’t help but to stop by Nankinmachi again.
I haven’t actually been to China but it did feel like I was there!
It was still pretty early so I decided to go for dessert at Cafféra Daimaru Kobe in Daimaru,
one of the larger departmental stores in Japan.
I heard great reviews of their Tiramisu and really wanted to try it but it was sold out since I was there late and they only have a limited number available each day. I knew that all their desserts are highly praised so I was still excited. I went for their seasonal fruit tart and the Cappuccino con Cacao. The tart looked really sweet at first but I was thoroughly impressed after having a bite. All the elements came together really well! The coffee was probably one of the better ones I’ve had in Kobe as well.
That was the end of my first day in Kobe. Can’t wait to explore more tomorrow!