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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Japan 2013: Day 5 Leaving Osaka & Onto Kobe Part 6


Back out again! Learnt my lesson and this time round, changed to the premium light down jacket for better cover against the strong winds (since Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel is located right at the waterfront).

From the pictures, Kobe Tower actually looked far from the hotel, but suprisingly, there was a pedestrian walkway which leads right to ground level – hence Kobe Tower is only 5 minutes walk right across the hotel ……


Mosaic shopping mall and the ferris wheel right across the walkway. Love the changing colours of the ferris wheel.


This should be another shopping centre/ mall ……


Reached the foot of Kobe Port Tower!


My original thought was to head up to the observation deck and revolving cafe for more night views of the city, as there was 10 min to its closing time at 8pm + also the discount from the Kobe Welcome Coupon. However changed my mind as I would probably get to enjoy similar views from hotel. Also, the Tower itself looked much smaller than in pictures. Could be a better idea to quickly move on to Mosaic side as some shops and restaurants may still be open.

Turns out the building I saw earlier was actually a wedding hall – Notre Dame Kobe. The building seemed sort of empty but did get to enjoy a nice fountain show with rainbow colours as I walked past ……




Walked past the Nakatottei Chuo Terminal – a ferry stop for sightseeing boats and dinner cruises that travel up and down the Bay Area. A nice walk along the waterfront so far – and much badly needed to clear my head a bit after feeling so dis-organized and flustered for the entire day so far. Also came across a very nice exclusive hotel – Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland. Found a spot behind the trees surrounding this hotel and captured the Kobe Port Tower from another more ‘artistic’ angle ……


The walk from hotel, pass the pier, and to the bridge that links directly to Mosaic took only 15 to 20 min at max (much faster if you just walk without stopping by to take photos). It was much faster than I thought! There was also another huge shopping complex (Grand Canal) right behind Mosaic.


Realised also from the maps on hand + during the walk that Mosaic is also quite near the JR Kobe station (1 more stop after Motomachi). So I could actually have headed to JR Kobe Station instead, checked out Duo Kobe and headed to Harborland/Mosaic from there, and then back to Hotel. The cold winds must have blown away my brain and logic …… Well ……

Also attempted another shot of the view from Mosaic side – facing the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, Kobe Tower, Kawasaki Museum and Hotel Okura, with the moon right smack in the middle.


Inside Mosaic ……


Mosaic is actually more of an open-air shopping complex, quite small in scale. Mainly restaurants/food outlets where you can dine looking out onto the harbour, and some small fashion shops (which are closed by now).


More shots taken from Mosaic and the waterfront below Mosaic ……


End of Mosaic, and next to it the Ferris Wheel and the recently opened Anpanman Museum (there’s also one in Yokohama!) ……


Brick Warehouse restaurants further down from the Ferris Wheel + a close up of the lighted up bridge linking to Port Island ……


There is probably more to explore if I were to walk further down to the brick warehouse …… but decided to turn back into Mosaic to explore the outlets (that are still open). Also crossed over to Grand Canal behind. Huge shopping mall as well but by 9pm, almost all shops (including the food hall at the basement) are already closed.

Chanced upon this quaint cafe inside Grand Canal called Nishimura – and probably the only place that is still open till 10pm. Very european style type of cafe which even has a water feature right at the entrance. Didn’t go in and grab a bite as it was too late for coffee ……


Went back another round to Mosaic to grab a bite as stomach started to rumble (pasta portion was quite small). Packed a burger from Lotteria (another Japanese fast food chain) and decided I just had to have a dessert from a western style Kobe Cafe after all (Doutor doesn’t count) …… So walked back to Nishimura and grabbed a cake!

So probably spent a good 1.5 hours at Harborland before taking the walk along the waterfront back to my hotel. A couple more night shots upon reaching the hotel entrance. This time round – you can see the Kobe Concerto cruise shop parked right in front of Mosaic (as compared to the earlier shot taken when I left the hotel) ……


Finally settled down to my comfortable room on level 12 ……


Definitely the most spacious of all hotel rooms 5 days into Japan so far + impecceable service and attention to detail as expected of a 5 star hotel. Booked this hotel as I wanted to be in the heart of Kobe’s harbour (as versus to being at the more centrally located Sannomiya) + also its a steal at 10500 JPY per night including breakfast. The same price would probably get you only a small single room in Shibuya. Thus one of the most fantastic bargains of the trip for me. Only blip was that there was no TBS/Fuji TV/TV Asahi on the tv ……

My comfortable supper in my hotel room. Ebi burger from Lotteria and strawberry shortcake from Nishimura.