Kobe Travel Diary : A Romantic day with my girlfriend
I will take you on a two day trip, but you can spend much more time here.
Kobe also makes for a great daytrip if you are staying in Kyoto or Osaka.
I start of in Nada Ward, which is a little bit outside the center and easily reachable with the Hanshin Line.
I get off at Sumiyoshi station and start exploring this neighborhood, which is scattered with famous Sake breweries.
You can quickly walk from one to the other. It also makes for a nice escape from the busy city center.
There are many breweries from small to large.
The famous Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum offers a wide display of the traditional and modern methods of brewing sake.
It is a fun museum, but to get a tour of the full brewery you have to make a reservation (only in winter).
The museum ends with a free tasting and of course there is a shop to buy a souvenir of this ‘Japanese drink’ as Nihonshu (sake in Japanese) literally means.
Plenty of Sake and a special atmosphere walking between the breweries!
Sake is something you don’t really find in Europe.
And if you do, it is most likely bad sake.
I really started to develop a taste for this special Japanese product and will surely bring some bottles back!
After the sake tasting, I took the train back towards the city center.
Time for lunch! To get to my lunch spot, I get off at the Kobe Sannomiya Hanshin station in a colorful and cute train.
From there I walk towards the mountain in the direction of the Kitano-Cho area.
Here I find my well deserved lunch.
My lunch spot is Yoshiya (吉家), located right on the foot of Kitano-Cho, the next stop.
Yoshiya is a classic udon place: simple, good and cheap!
There are many different types of noodles in Japan, but the udon noodle is without doubt my favorite.
I took the udon noodles with “wagyu,” the classic Japanese beef.
The Kobe beef is the most famous variant of wagyu, but I will safe that for later!
On the way to Kitano-Cho we came across a funny Japanese phenomenon: the ever present vending machine.
There are literally everywhere vending machines across this island nation and we found one that sells ice cream.
A perfect desert!
I didn’t really know what to expect from the Kitano-Cho area, but it was surely a surprise.
Walking around here, feels like stepping out of Japan.
The buildings have a European feel about them and since it was almost Christmas time, there were many decorations attributing to a warm atmosphere.
Walking through the small streets of Kitano-Cho I really felt I was back in Europe for a moment.
The little winding streets in the area are great to loose yourself.
All of a sudden we end up at a Shinto-shrine near the top of the area: the Kitanotenman shrine.
Shinto is the traditional Japanese religion.
A long staircase leads you to the shrine and also provides a beautiful view over the city.
A truly astonishing view, but the best is yet to come!
If you believe in superstition, make sure to buy a lucky charm!
More lucky charms? Perhaps they are the secret to the long and healthy Japanese live.
It is time for the last stop of the day, which is also the most spectacular.
From Kitano-Cho it is a short walk to the Shin-Kobe ropeway, which is located next to the Shin-Kobe train station.
This ski-style ropeway takes you up Maya mountain which overlooks the whole bay area and makes for a perfect romantic date.
The views from the ropeway are absolutely stunning.
There are two places you can get off, the middle station and the top station.
Between the middle and top station is a herbal garden, so we decided to take the ropeway all the way to the top and then walk our way down.
There are a few places where you can go up the mountain, but the Shin-Kobe Ropeway is close to the city center and offers a nice way down.
If you are more adventurous, you can also walk up the mountain or even make the full hike to Arima Onsen.
This, however, will take all day and requires some stamina.
Since we were having a romantic day, we just toke the cable car.
From the top of the station you have a wonderful view over the city and the bay.
There are some restaurants and shops in a slightly kitsch German style.
There is a small “smell museum” and places to buy some good smelling souvenirs.
Romantic view at the top.
Then we started our way down through the gardens.
Spring is the best time to visit, but there is herbal beauty all year round.
It is not touristy at all and we found my other Japanese couples strolling down through the plants.
Halfway down the gardens is a tropical oasis.
Here you can escape the cold in winter for a bit and enjoy a well deserved “herbal tea” at the terrace. At the back of building is a nice surprise.
The free herbal footbath was the highlight of our visit to the gardens.
After walking all day, the warm water was a real bliss to our feet.
The fantastic view was also a real pleasure to the eye! It is a great spot to relax a bit and contemplate life.
While walking down the mountain, the ever changing views are spectacular.
The view at night is very famous and is supposed to be one of the most beautiful views of Japan.
But also during day, it is worthwhile.
Even though we visited the gardens in December, there was still some autumn foliage to enjoy.
A real surprise and worthy ending of day 1 was the Nunobiki waterfall on the way down.
It is amazing that such a natural treasure can be found so close to the city.
It feels like you are in the middle of the forest even though the Shin-Kobe train station is literally around the corner.
By the time we got down, we were exhausted.
Time for some sleep and ready for day 2.