Japan 2015: Kobe Re-Visited

Totally unplanned but ended up re-visiting Kobe (for myself that is, sis has not been to Kobe before) for a day trip on Day 7 of our trip. It was a last minute tweak to our itinerary as we had originally planned to visit Ise (from Nagoya) – only to abandon it due to the longer journey it would take if we were to cover it using the JR Pass all the way.

Originally, the initial plan was to stay in Kobe for 2 days, and from Kobe, do day trips to Osaka/Kyoto/Himeji. However due to difficulty in securing accommodation for Kobe on weekend dates, we ended up in Takayama instead. The journey took about 1 and a half hours, via shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, then direct rapid service all the way to Sannomiya Station – the main hub of Kobe City …… and all covered by the JR Pass.

Started off our Kobe daytrip with a visit to Ikuta Shrine, located right in the heart of Sannomiya.

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Ikuta Shrine is a Shinto Shrine that is one of the oldest in Japan, with a history of over 1800 years. Apart from protecting the deity of Ikuta (Ikuta means the place with vibrant energy), there is another interesting piece of history surrounding the shrine. In AD 80, 44 kambe (神戸) or court officials (fuko) who served shrines, were sent by the court to serve at this shrine. Thus gradually the area around the shrine became what is known as Kobe (神戸) city today. The shrine is also of great significance to the people of Kobe – as a symbol of resurrection …… as it has survived many wars and natural disasters over the years, with the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 being the latest.

Sources: Ikuta Shrine Official Website, Japan Experience

Thus it was also the place to offer some prayers right at the mid-point of our trip as well.

After visiting the shrine, crossed the road opposite to the huge Tokyu Hands – a building by itself about 5 stories high, with another basement floor. Looked around a bit before deciding to head off for lunch.

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Quaint looking European style shop/building in a corner of Sannomiya. Walked in to take a look and the shop sells exclusively Baumkuchen cakes.

We decided to get lunch in Sannomiya area itself. As sis does not eat beef, as such Kobe Beef is not an option , and eating at Wakkoqu was a no go! Did some googling and decided we could check out Nishimura Coffee for lunch – as they have an outlet right along the stretch beside Hankyu Sannomiya Station. Nishimura Coffee was also the same cafe where I packed a strawberry shortcake back to my hotel room during my last trip back in November 2013.

(Note: We did not manage to locate their iconic red brick outlet at Kitanozaka, which is around the corner from Ikuta Shrine)

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The cafe itself has a very 1960s vibe. And to our surprise, they allow smoking inside the cafe! So it was not that comfortable eating in a smoky cafe of sorts ……

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The dessert counter. Spoilt with choice with so many different varieties of cakes and pies to choose from.

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My lunch set! A little disappointed not to see any Kobe Beef on the menu ….. so opted for one of their set lunches instead. Can’t remember the exact name of this main course. Basically it is baked balls – one with bacon and cheese, another with an assortment of seafood ….. accompanied by a salmon & ham (within a jelly) ….. and minestrone soup. I must say the way they baked the balls is very creative & igneous …. retaining the western influence while incorporating some Japanese sensibility and creativity.

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Sis had a more traditional ham sandwich accompanied with salad and minestrone soup.

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Kobe – as a major port city, is also a gateway to western culture and influences. As such, they are well-known for their bakeries and pastries.  So having a dessert is a must! Got a baked cheese cake to share as it is not so rich/heavy as we were to take a fruit tart / mount blanc / cream-based cake ……

Off to Kobe Harborland after lunch ……

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The iconic ferris wheel right beside the Anpanman Museum ….. with the Old Kobe Harbor Signal Tower in the distance @ the end of the harbour.

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Takahama Quay that is right below the Mosaic shopping area ….. which overlooks Meriken Park and the iconic buildings that flank it – from left to right …… Kobe Port Tower, Hotel Okura, Kawasaki Good Times World (Maritime Museum) and the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel (that I stayed in during my last trip).

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As you can see, it is also a cloudy and pretty ‘grey’ day, ready to rain anytime. Still feel the million-dollar night views that I experienced back in year 2013 were way superior …….

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Flowerbed at the other end of the quay.

We wanted to proceed to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway next ….. but by the time we reach there, it will be around 1630 Hrs. With sunset starting at 1645 Hrs and the Ropeway closing at 1700 Hrs …… and considering that its such a cloudy day with high chance of rain, went back to Sannomiya to do some omiyage shopping to end off the day trip (technically half-day only) to Kobe.

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