We remember Kobe from the Earthquake of 1995. Kobe is a harbor city where the first immigrants come to Japan after Edo period. Kobe is one of the five cleanest cities in the world. We would like to share what we did and what we saw during our 1.5 days stay in Kobe. Our first experience we would like to share is the humanity of Japanese people and then the taste of Kobe beef.
We reached Kobe from Osaka Airport at around 3 o’clock. Our hotel was supposed to be in walking distance from the train station. We decided to ask the address for our hotel. When we were looking for a person to ask, someone volunteered to help. Then two more people joined. Despite the lack of a common language, they did everything that they can and then accompanied us until the hotel. It was very nice to experience this stereotype of Japanese people about the helpfulness and kindness in our first day in Japan. Our hotel was righfully at the city center, clean and had minimalist decoration which is unique to Japan.
Kobe beef is known for its flavor. It is derived from a locally grown special beef variety. We read that the flavor of the meat is related to the uniform fat distribution and softness. This is a result of the fact that the animals are fed with beer and massaged routinely (!). We trusted our feelings and tried this specialty in a restaurant found in small streets. The taste was really nice and the service & the hospitability of the staff were great.
After dinner, we returned to our hotel after walking along the Kobe’s quiet and safe streets. Our first day in Kobe could not end better than this.
After Singapore’s humid and warm weather, it was nice to awaken with Kobe’s cooling spring breeze. We indulged ourselves with variety of delicious pastries in a café, which was found nearby the train station. Japanese surely know baking very well!
After we fueled our body with this rich breakfast, we started sightseeing the city on foot and realized that it has lots of slopes. Kobe might mean “steep slope” in Japanese ☺.
Our first stop was Kitano district. There were lots of mansions/embassies with beautiful gardens in this region. The architectural style here was very similar to old European cities, but we remembered that we are in Japan as everywhere was super clean. Kobe, i.e. Motomachi, reflects the impact of the French and Italian culture with its small boutiques, cafes, candyshops, restaurants and bakeries.
The mansions constructed for the embassies and businessmen are still found in most beautiful parts of the city.
The Indian style mosque constructed by the Turkish immigrants faces the mountain.
Another place worth seeing in Kobe is Nunobiki Falls. You can reach to the falls by cable car that you can take from Shin Kobe train station but it is more fun to do take trekking path for nature lovers. Of course we chose walking! It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the distance by walking and hiking along the way to reach to the falls, the difficulty level is moderate. We enjoyed very much when we walked along this peaceful path.
Behind the waterfall, there is a large basin, which supplies water to the city. You reach to a botanical garden if you continue to climb from the basin. Here, there is an observation point where you can capture beautiful city views.
From the same place you can continue to hike to the garden or you may return to city by cable car. We were so tired, sweaty and hungry; so we chose to return to the city by cable car. We did not miss the opportunity to take a selfie in cable car :)
It was nice to drink some warm Ramen soup when we arrived to the station. We were ready to continue with our next stop to explore sake.
Sake is a traditional Japanese drink made by the fermentation of rice. It is produced by following different techniques in different regions. There are many sake plants in the Kansai region, in which Kobe is found. You are able to visit them and learn more about how they prepare sake, taste and, if you want, you can even purchase some.
We visited a sake plant named Kiku-Masamune and learned that they are producing Kimoto, a very valuable veriety, by solid state fermentation. The value/price of the sake depends on the quality of production and aging process. Sake is still produced by traditional methods in Kiku – Masamune. A museum is displayed for those who have interest to learn more about the process. The guide explains the process in Japanese but they offer an English video as well.
Most of the visitors were from Japan, or at least they could follow Japanese. We watched the video and visited the museum. The staff were very gentle & friendly and served us different kinds of sake. We enjoyed plum flavored sake a lot and bought some.
Kobe is a very peaceful and tidy city with its lovely streets and its clean water and air. It was the first place that we saw in Japan and we had a very positive impression about Japan. Moreover, along the way we walked, we could not stop to say each other that if we knew Japanese; we would stay in Kobe for years. In the picture you can see the clear stream that flows from the mountains. We admire the cleanliness of the river that gives life to everything found nearby it. There are birds singing, children playing, running, walking, people riding their bikes. We feel sorry for our people when we thought about the situation in industrial cities in Turkey.
Even though we already did a lot, we were determined to not finish the day early. We could not return to our hotel without seeing the majestic Mount Rokko (only 932 m height :) We determined how to reach to cable car by using the maps we collected from the tourism information office. Then, we immediately went to the station as we want to be at the peak at sunset.
To reach the summit of the mountain, we took first the train, then the bus, and then a cable car (pictured) and had to take the bus again.
Cable car climbed through the flat and steep rails through the forest. Besides trees, we were not able to see anything else along the way. We listened the music and warmed up in the car and reached the bus stop before the summit. We saw the spa hotels and hiking people on the way. It became cooler and cooler with time & altitude.
There was a strong wind. Without losing any time, we went to a restaurant in the summit. The restaurant was dominating the city landscape. The warm atmosphere inside, with lovely decoration and candle lights made us forget our fatigue. It darkened slowly and we enjoyed our romantic dinner. After the dinner, when we left the restaurant, it was extremely cold, foggy and rainy. We climbed to a tower dominating area and captured some panorama photos even though there was a very strong wind.
Then we took the first bus to return to the city centre and to our hotel.