Posted by Heliocentrism on January 30, 2015
Thursday, December 25, 2014
This was our first big road trip, since… what is it? …2012? 2012!
I had been planning this trip for months. I had a day-to-day schedule of what we would do, see, where we would sleep, and how much everything should cost. I even wrote down what time we should wake up each morning and how long we should stay at any given tourist attraction.
I’ve changed my traveling ways. I’ve gone from a haphazard tourist that goes places knowing nothing about everything, to researching everything thoroughly and playing tour guide to Mark.
There are still a few things that stand in my way, research-wise. A lot of the information online and in guide books are grossly incorrect or non-existent. Also, estimations of travel time due to traffic are way off.
The drive time from Miyoshi to Kobe was estimated by both my Garmin and Google maps to be about 6 hours with traffic when not taking any toll roads. That was not even close. It’s more like 8 or 9 hours. And, we left at 7:00 in the morning and avoid traffic until we got to Kobe city.
Adventures in Steak Land
Kobe beef is very expensive. I’m talking 60~80 bucks for a steak-centric meal here. But, this is one of the finest beefs in the world. So, Mark did some research and found the cheapest of the most expensive steakhouses; Steak Land.
Generally, Steak Land has the more affordable Kobe beef steaks. It’s still a lot of money to drop for one meal. So, we were going to go there for lunch. The lunch menu is about $10 less than the dinner menu. But, damn that Kobe traffic!
Once we were officially in Kobe’s city limits, the Garmin said we were 30 minutes from the hostel. It kept saying that for about 2 hours. Then when we got to the coordinates, there was no hostel to be seen. The hostel is in an area filled with one-way roads so we could not easily drive around looking for something that looked hostel-like.
Mark parked the car on the side of the road, illegally. But, he put on the emergency blinkers, like everyone else around here does, so it was totally cool. I took out my tablet and used the GPS on it to find the hostel on foot. It took me to the back of an apartment building. “That cannot be it.”
I kept walking, looking for someone to ask for help. I was hoping to find a shop but there was none on the little back alley I was on. So I walked away from the spot where the hostel was supposed to be and tried to get on a main road. Just when I found the main road, I saw the hostel’s teeny tiny completely missable sign.
Needless to say, we did not make it to Steak Land in time for the lunch special.
Can you taste the difference?
We had been looking forward to this meal, and hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We decided to go anyway, even if we did have to pay for the more expensive dinner.
We paid for one Kobe steak and one regular steak. This was not only easier on our wallets, but it gave us an opportunity to compare the two steaks.
This Lights of Kobe Harbor
We spent the rest of the evening walking around Kobe harbor looking at attractions and taking photos. I used the GPS on my tablet to get us from one thing of interest to another. But then it’s battery died, so we found a map and navigated the old fashioned way.
We had a great time, until we were ready to go back to the hostel. I was counting on my tablet to give us directions, but that was not an option now.
Me – “Mark, do you remember how to get back to the hostel?”
Mark – “Sure, just go to that one train station. Walk down the main road, and turn at the Lawson. It’s a straight 8 minute or so walk from there.”
Me – “Seriously!? You’re standing on a street in Japan and your point of reference is a convenience store?”
Mark – “Now, I see where I went wrong…”
We walked around for an hour looking for that one particular Lawson that was an 8-minute walk from our hostel. We found it eventually, but during our search I wondered what would happen to us if we really could never find this hostel again. We would not be able to find our car, because we only knew it’s location in reference to the hostel.
Luckily, it never came to that.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
You can get here by plane or train. If you live in Oita on Kyushu you can take an overnight boat from Beppu city.
- Kobe Beef $35 ~ $200
- To get a better deal, try having Kobe steak for lunch instead of dinner.
- There is free wi-fi throughout the city of Kobe. You can sign up for free week long wi-fi at any tourist information centers, or use the free 3-hour long wi-fi.
- Coordinates 34°40’55.4″N 135°11’19.0″E
Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan
- the park itself is always available
- The name of the park comes from the word “American,” which was commonly translated as “Meriken” during the Meiji era.
- Things to see in or near this park:
- Steakland Kobe (神戸のステーキランド)
- 34°41’34.9″N 135°11’31.5″E
- Go for lunch
- There are many Steakland Kobe restaurants in Kobe.
- Hanshin Earthquake Memorial Park (神戸港震災メモリアルパーク)
- 34°41’01.3″N 135°11’24.4″E
- Kobe Maritime Museum
- 34°40’58.0″N 135°11’18.0″E
- 10:00 – 17:00 Tue – Sun (Closed December 29 to January 3)
- Kobe Port Tower (神戸ポートタワー)(KōbePōtoTawā)
- 34°40’57.5″N 135°11’12.1″E
- 9:00 – 20:00
- Kobe Anpanman Museum (神戸アンパンマンこどもミュージアム＆モール)
- 34°40’45.5″N 135°11’04.7″E
- ¥1,500 for everyone over 1 year old
- 10:00 – 18:00
- for toddlers
- Love’s Post Box (愛の郵便ポスト)
- 34°40’47.0″N 135°11’06.2″E (or nearby)
- a hallowed spot for romance
- It’ right in front of the Anpanman Museum
- The stationary store, near the mail box, where you can buy postcards and stamps, closes at 19:00.
- Statue of Elvis (エルヴィス・プレスリー像)
- 34°40’42.9″N 135°10’56.2″E
- This was paid for by Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi along with many other Elvis fans.
- Was originally placed in Harajuku, Tokyo in 1987.
- Kobe Harborland (神戸ハーバーランド)
- 34°40’47.2″N 135°10’55.8″E
- Shopping area
- Harborland map
- Steakland Kobe (神戸のステーキランド)
(Kōbe no sutēkirando)
- Coordinates 34°41’34.9″N 135°11’31.5″E
1-8-2 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku | Miyasako Bldg. 1-2F, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0012, Japan
- +81 78-332-1653
- 11:00 – 22:00
- It’s cheaper to eat here for lunch than dinner.
- There are 3 locations for this restaurant.
Sannomiya R2 Hostel
(Kōbe Sannomiya R2 hosuteru)
- Coordinates 34°41’48.0″N 135°11’59.9″E
- It’s not where google maps says it is.
2-4-6 Kumoi-dori Chuoku-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 691-0096, Japan
- reception 9:00-22:00
- Check in 15:00 – 22:00
- Check out 10:00
- No kids under 7
- If you book your stay through HostelWorld, make sure to bring your conformation paper and proof that you have paid 10% of the charge already.