With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

They Lost Mark

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 6, 2015

Friday, December 26, 2014

All Pictures

Mark is fast asleep somewhere in here.

Departure time — 9:30

The plan for this day was to visit Mt. Rokko then drive to Nagoya and see Nagoya at night. I wanted to look at Kobe from the heights of the observatory which doesn’t open until 10:00, so we could leave the hostel as late as 9:30.

The hostel put Mark and me in different dorm rooms. Mark was in a mixed room and I was in an all female room. Although Mark came to my room when he carried my stuff up, I had no idea where his room was. But, I didn’t think it mattered when we went to bed that night before, so I never asked.

The next morning I woke up around 7:30 and took a long hot shower. With hostels, even in Japan, you never know what the shower will be like. Since this hostel had a very nice, clean, and mold free shower, I took my time to make up for any possible future dirty showers where I would try to spend as little time as necessary in.

I got dressed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. Mark and I didn’t want to waste time looking for a restaurant in the mornings for breakfast, so we got 2 double size boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios from Costco for the trip. I’m not a big fan of cereal. It has way too many calories for a meal that is just somewhat enjoyable. But, it’s quick, easy, and it needs no refrigeration. We just made sure to buy milk the night before and that was that.

I ate my cereal and did my usual morning online routine like I would if I were at home. I expected to see Mark at any given moment. I finished my breakfast and washed my bowl. I even filled my coffee tumbler with mostly milk and sugar add very little coffee to go, but still no Mark.

Finally, I ask the clerk on duty where a Mark Racine was staying.

clerk – “Who?”

Me – “My husband, Mark. We checked in together.”

This was not the same person who checked us in, but he kept asking for clarification of Mark’s identity like there was a possibility that he knew Mark or something. Like if I were to say, “You know, that guy who likes to do the ‘octopus dance’ at parties” he would go, “Oh, Mark Ray-seen!” But this did not happen.

He pulled out a giant poster board, like the kind used for elementary school presentations, and put it flat on the table.

clerk – “What’s your name?”

me – “Josie Racine, or Josephine Racine.” (I can never remember what name I gave when making reservations.)

clerk – “Oh, he’s in the bunk next to yours.”

He pointed to some scribblings under yesterday’s date quite pleased with himself. I almost felt bad telling him that this was not possible. I spent the night in an all female room and none of the women in my room were my husband.

me – “Could you check the board again?”

I looked at the board. There was nothing intelligible on it. It was not in Japanese or anything, only numbers and dates and bad handwriting of Roman script. I don’t know how he got any information off the board other than by pure witch craft.

clerk – “Well, since your husband is a guy… you should try the mixed dorm room on the 2nd floor.”

I went up to the second floor, opened the door and walked to the sleeping area. There were many bunks with their privacy curtains drawn closed. Which one was Mark’s?

Look at me being all easy to find.

I went back downstairs to ask the clerk which bed was Mark’s. He pulled out the board again and stared at it intently.

clerk – “You two were supposed to be in bunks 10 and 11 in the mixed room. So he should be in 10 or 11.”

I went back to the 2nd floor mixed dorm room. Both 10 and 11 were open and empty. No one had been sleeping in either of those beds the past night. It was useless asking the clerk to check the board anymore. Clearly this hostel had lost my husband.

I started to call his name quietly as I walked through the room. I got no response. Then, I went to each bunk with closed curtains and called him. After 4 or 5 bunks, his head popped out. “What are you doing?” I asked, “It’s 9:20; we have to go!”


You think it’s cold now? Try standing in this tower that attracts the wind.

We drove to Mt. Rokko within the time estimated by Google Maps. We got there about 10 minutes before the observatory opened. Rather than warmly waiting in the car, we got out and explored the wintery area.


We found a look-out tower and went to the top. We look down on Kobe and took photos.

I looked back towards the observatory and thought that this tower might have a better view of Kobe than the observatory.

The area around the tower look like some sort of fake European village. It was filled with closed coffee shops and restaurants, and a gift shop that was just opening up. We went in the gift shop and bought post cards.

After that we walked to the observatory. It got colder the further up the hill we walked. We were about to pay to enter the observatory, but it didn’t look open. The time it took to figure out whether or not the observatory was open was just enough for us to ask ourselves, “Do we really want to pay ¥600 to see what we just saw for free, but at a different angle?”

The answer was, “no.” We got back in our car and headed for Nagoya.

Mark just blends right in.

On our way to Nagoya we past a small town, in Shiga-ken maybe, whose main industry is making ceramic statues of raccoon dogs. There were no restaurants or gas stations that we could find, just 20 or 30 ceramic takuni shops.

“Look at all them shiny lights, Mark!”

By the time we got to Nagoya it was night and all the tourist attractions were closed. After checking into our hotel and finding cheap parking near a grocery store we walked around Nagoya station in amazement of the big city. We live in Miyoshi, now. We don’t have bright lights or anything that resembles a night life.

Paid Parking

The Trick to Cheaper Parking in Japan

If you don’t mind doing some extra walking, you can find cheap parking. Stay away from train stations. That is where everyone wants to park. Go a few blocks away from the station. The further away from the station, the cheaper the parking will be.

For short-term parking, look for a convenience store. These are good for parking for less than 30 minutes. Any longer than that, and your car will cause suspicion.

For longer parking times, look for a grocery store, hardware store, or a pachinko parlor. Depending on where you are these options might even be free. And, if not, they will have cheaper parking, even if you don’t buy anything.

Pachinko parlors will have the most parking spots and no one will notice if you leave your car there for days, many gamblers do. Just don’t go in and lose all your parking money in the machines.

All Pictures



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.







  • 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 toaskwhatATMs 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.)

Rokko-Shidare Observatory
(自然体感展望台 六甲枝垂れ)
(Shizentai-kan tenbō-dai Rokkō shidare)

on Mount Rokko

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°45’51.9″N 135°14’47.4″E
  • 100 JYN toll


1877-9 Rokkosancho Gokaiyama, Nada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 657-0101, Japan


  • +81 78-894-2281



  • 100 JYN toll to the top of Mt. Rokko
  • The look out is free.
  • Parking is 500JYN/car
  • The mesh dome thing in the photo above costs 300JYN to enter.


  • Apr-Nov 10:00~21:00
    • Sep 19 and Nov 23 on Sundays & Holidays 9:00~21:00
  • Dec-Mar 10:00~18:00


This is mainly a bunch of cafes and restaurants.


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