Japan 2013: Day 5 Leaving Osaka & Onto Kobe Part 2

DAY 5 (CON’T)

Reached Kobe around 5 min to 1200 Hrs (1155) thanks to the faster ride on the special rapid train.

Not before there was this little bit of ‘drama’ as I was coming down on the escalator at Sannomiya station. Somehow my luggage wasn’t placed properly while I was on the escalator, and when I was trying to push it closer to me, somehow I lost my grip due to a momentary lapse …… and the luggage promptly went tumbling down the escalator. What a shock!

Luckily it did not injure anyone, no damage to my hardcase lugugage but was a momentary scare in one way or another. Was berated by this old lady for not taking the elevator (i.e. lift) …… No excuses.  However I did try to locate an elevator but there were NO visible signage leading to an elevator, which was why I went on the escalator. What to do ….. just my luck! Felt shaken a little bit before finding my bearings again (as always whenever I reach a new city) ……

Got to the bus terminal right across the station to take the complimentary shuttle bus to drop off my luggage at my hotel for the night – Kobe Meriken Park Oriental.

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Reached the hotel and enquired if I was able to do an early check-in (might just be possible since its 5 star after all) but they said I can only check-in after 3 pm (same time with Hotel Kinki in Osaka as well) so I guess most Japanese adhere quite firmly to pre-set rules and guidelines …… So I took the shuttle bus back out to Sannomiya again.

The green building – a pretty new-ish shopping centre called Mint Kobe ….. taxis lined out outside Sannomiya Station ….. and the junction which looks out to the Hankyu Sannomiya (Hankyu is another major private rail operator in Kansai area) right across the road ……

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Based on directions given by the friendly English speaking staff at the Tourist Center at JR Sannomiya Station, Hankyu Sannomiya was a easy find. Time for lunch after that early sushi breakfast 😛 …… The row of shops/restaurants was just right opposite the train station itself.

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Located Steakland Kobe a few shops down. To be reviewed separately under Food Mission entries.

This was my 2nd good meal of the day – and the most expensive one to date at 2980 JPY. On hindsight, as I write this now, I reckon I should have just surplged more for the higher grade tenderloin set (which based on reviews is really melt-in-the-mouth even more, probably due to the cut of the beef) …… After all, it was 5980 JPY for the Tenderlion Steak Set – which is 3000 JPY more (considering that I had so much left over yen eventually) 😛

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After lunch, more walking around before I settled into a Doutor outlet at JR Sannomiya Station. Still full from my Kobe Beef lunch but needed a place to sit down to think of what to do and where to go next …… and Doutor fit the bill as they had tables with charging point where I could charge my phone.

There was a promotion for cakes after 2pm, so got the set (including a drink) for 500 JPY in total.

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Had a Mount Blanc Cake (a Doutor speciality) and a Latte. Even took a picture of the half-eaten Mount Blanc 😛 …… The ‘noodle-like’ strips on the cake is actually a chestnut puree – while a meringue layer forms the base, with custard and fresh cream encasing a chesnut paste ball lying on top (which is the half-eaten portion of the cake that you see). Interesting! Tried the latte as I already had my usual black coffee at Doutor Osaka Station earlier in the morning – not exactly an artisian type of latte, but decent as a warm drink (given that it was a pretty windy day and I only wore 2 layers) ……

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Earlier before lunch, as usual, the 1st thing I did after coming back to Sannomiya Station was to head to the tourist information centre to collect maps + also ask for directions. Unlike the past 4 days of the trip, my plan for Day 5 in Kobe was vague at best even despite research done back in Osaka (before bedtime) as I was undecided between heading to either Arima Onsen or Mount Rokko for the afternoon.

Back at the tourist information centre, was attended to by a foreign staff that speaks English (bravo!) and was told that the ropeway up Mount Rokko was suspended (due to a typhoon in September) and the bus alternative is a much longer journey with 2 changes of buses. Arima Onsen didn’t seem that interesting to me after doing various research online as I believe there are nicer onsen towns more worthwhile to visit in Japan …… The lady staff highly recommended the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway at Shin-Kobe – which seemed interesting as well.

While having my cake and latte, decided that rather than going back to hotel (since I came from there anyway) or while the afternoon away just walking around Sannomiya, I will go and check out the Herb Garden. Shin-Kobe is only 1 stop away from Sannomiya via the Kobe subway (another private line) so very minimal time spent on travelling as compared to the bus journey to Mount Rokko …… Also, its already 2+ and the sun starts to set at 430pm onwards, so not much daylight left. Thus going to Shin-Kobe makes sense 😛

Finally saw an Ueshima Coffee outlet while entering into the subway station entrance (a separate underground station separate from the JR station) ……

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Had a ‘SMRT’ moment while at the subway. The train actually stood still for a good 5 min before finally starting its 1 stop journey to Shin-Kobe (which takes probably about 3 min) ….. I guess its not a popular subway line as I hardly see people taking it as well, thus the ‘efficiency’ as compared to the more popular JR and Tokyo Metro lines 😛

After some confusion exiting the Shin-Kobe station, and some unclear signage along the way, ended up following a group of ladies and managed to get to the entrance of the Shin-Kobe ropeway – that will bring me up to the Herb Garden! Thanks to the Kobe Welcome Coupon that I got from the Tourist Information Centre earlier, got a round trip + Herb Garden admission ticket at the discounted rate of 1120 JPY (original price 1400 JPY) ……

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Onto the Shin-Kobe Ropeway ……

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As you can see, it was a pretty cloudy day, and windy too. Am feeling the temperature dip especially when I only had 2 layers on (long sleeve + hoodie) whilst my premium light down jacket is in my luggage! Arghh …… Spotted the Nunobiki Waterfall while on the ropeway up ……

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Early signs of autumn ……. Looks like the autumn leaves (koyo) will come later than expected, similar to Osaka.

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Yay! Approaching the top (Herb Garden) after the 10 min ride ……

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