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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Kobe

Friday, April 17, 2015

Kobe, Japan - 2015

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 17/04/2015 08:43:26
Updated by Joel Dixon at 22/01/2016 00:50:33

Our first taste of Kobe was certainly a strange one. As we made our way up a pretty busy street towards our hotel, we were not sure whether to believe our eyes as we happened across a wild bore eating some trash in the middle of the street. Apparently it was a boar as there are a bunch living in the nearby jungle. But I'll tell you what wasn't a boar - Kobe (see what I did there?)

We caught up with Ryan, a friend of mine from Melbourne that is in Japan teaching English, on the first night and had a few whiskys at a local bar. I tried some Yamazaki as Ryan's girlfriend Akiko would be taking us to Yamazaki for a whisky tour on the weekend. It was nice to sit down with someone else that spoke English and have a chat - as Pao and I had been on our own up until this point - and great to catch up with an old friend again.

The next morning in the pouring rain Ryan took us to the nearby Nunobiki Falls - which required a quick hike up part of a mountain. It seemed that the falls were gathering strength from the rains - as the water was just streaming down. At the top we found yet another drink vending machine - I had to buy one of my energy drinks so that the effort was not wasted.

Dont Go Chasing Them
The water looks nice and inviting when reviewing the photos - but it was damn cold on this morning

Whoever had to lug this drink machine up the mountain certainly earned his wage that day

After the falls we made our way to the Kobe Herb Garden - a favourite spot of Ryan's. The cabin along the ropeway provided zero visibility, but once we reached the top we could see well enough. It was a beautiful, calming place with soothing music being played and lots of earthy smells. They also had smelling stations setup which was my favourite part - until we reached the herbal foot bath. I think we stayed there a good 15 minutes apologising to our feet for all the walking they have needed to endure.

Hmm, yes - quite.

Surprisingly Nice
It was stranging having a foot bath without tiny fish biting at my dead skin

Akiko took us to a yakiniku place for dinner - which is where you cook your own meat at your table (similar to Korean BBQ). Yakiniku was one of the last foods to try on my list - and it was delicious. I'm not sure if it's just because we had Akiko who know how to cook the meat properly - but it was all so tasty.

The grilling of meat - what an excellent invention - why does the wheel get all the kudos?

After dinner it was time for bed - and I decided I needed to try a typically Japan experience - capsule hotel. As part of the salaryman drinking culture around here - it isn't too rare to find people out drinking until after the last train has departed for people's home towns. One solution when this happens is to book a cheap capsule hotel which is basically just a bed for the night to get you through to the first train home. I wanted to give one a go, and I wouldn't be missing too much as our hotel room in Kobe was pretty small and terrible - even the fancy toilet seat couldn't fit on the toilet due to the lack of space in the bathroom. The capsule hotels we could find in Kobe were male-only - so I bid Pao farewell as I trekked back into the centre of the city.

The hotel I stayed at...

... and my particular capsule

I had a TV, and Mr. Ducky to keep me company

The experience was just that - an experience that I was happy I could tick off while in Japan. The whole setup was pretty well organised and the capsule itself surprisingly roomy. Having a TV was a nice touch - having no air-conditioning was horrible as it got so stuffy in there. I needed to leave my curtain open half-way to allow some airflow and it was still very difficult to sleep. On the whole - probably not cheap enough to justify the heat and constant noises from other guests alarms going off at 6 am (a business hotel room wouldn't be that much more expensive).

On day two in Kobe spirits were up as we started with a tour of the Yamazaki whisky distillery. Yamazaki was recently named best in the world, and you could tell from the tour that they take their whisky seriously (and are helped by some pretty pure water in the area). I enjoyed the smells and certainly the tastes - and the audio guide went most of the way of explaining what was happening.

Fat Ones
This is this stinky step - the smell in this room was quite overpowering..

Skinny Ones
... but by the time we reach the actual distillation - the smells started getting quite good

I'm quite interested in the process of creating barrels - maybe I would have made a good cooper (or just a passable koopa trooper)

Bit of a rainy day, but that didn't affect my disposition

We spent the afternoon in Harborland (or Haborland depending on the sign) which had all you would expect from a harbour-side area - but a bit classier and more enjoyable. Pao had some cheesecake which had a block of warm cheese on top (she loved it) while I had a hedgehog chocolate dessert (which of course I loved). As time passed the lights came on and it was all very pretty (I even didn't hate the ferris wheel all that much).

Another pesky photo with us in it

Just forget I posted this - I'll be back to hating on these things soon

Dinner was great as we frequented an all-you-can-eat buffet in the area that was filled with tasty treats. The food was nice - but the all-you-can-eat extended to the ice cream - allowing me to live out my dream of after-hours access to an ice cream parlour (with no disdainful looks after I come back for fourths). We walked back through Chinatown and Pao I and got a semi-early night (as we have a big day planned for Hiroshima next).

Dark and without any other people, Chinatown doesn't look so welcoming

Kobe was great fun - and it was awesome being able to see a friendly face (and meet his friendly-faced girlfriend) when we arrived. One other point to note - after returning from our Hiroshima day trip, we managed to find ourself a teppanyaki restaurant that was open so we could trial the famed Kobe beef (Kobeguy Steak Land Kobe was the lucky winner). I'm very thankful that we keep trying to find somewhere that was open - because it was yet another top ten meal (of which there's something like twenty so far).

Teppanyaki - the only time when mushrooms are edible (other than chocolate mushrooms of course - that shit's always delicious)

This is the 14th in the Super Fun Chronological Japan Travel Catalogue series
GET 1 - Nikko, Japan - 2015GET 2 - Ueno (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 3 - Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 4 - Ginza (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 5 - Asakusa (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 6 - Shinjuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 7 - Harajuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 8 - Shibuya (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 9 - Odaiba (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 10 - Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015GET 11 - Yokohama, Japan - 2015GET 12 - Kamakura, Japan - 2015GET 13 - Osaka, Japan - 2015GET 14 - Kobe, Japan - 2015GET 15 - Hiroshima, Japan - 2015GET 16 - Himeji & Nara, Japan - 2015GET 17 - Kyoto, Japan - 2015GET 18 - Iga, Japan - 2015GET 19 - Nagoya, Japan - 2015GET 20 - Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015GET 21 - Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

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