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Archive for the ‘Kobe 市’ Category

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.

Kobe

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


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

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.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • 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
(六甲山)
(Rokkosan)

How to get there:

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

Address:

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

Phone:

  • +81 78-894-2281

Websites:

Cost:

  • 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.

Hours:

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

Notes:

This is mainly a bunch of cafes and restaurants.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Hyōgo 県, Japan, Kobe 市 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Steak

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 30, 2015

Thursday, December 25, 2014

All Pictures

Road Trip!

On the Road Again

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.

I was hoping for a world made entirely out of steak.

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.

one Kobe steak and one steak from Kobe

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.

Keep in mind that the regular “roasted” steak was from a cow grown, bought, and cooked in Kobe. I preferred the regular steak. Mind you that they were both very good. They were the best and second best steaks I have ever had by far. They were both “like buttah” but I just like the non-Kobe steak a bit more.

We had to wait about 15 minutes for a couple with a selfie stick to take their standard 1,001 photos.

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.

Kobe wears the night well.

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…”

Elvis was no help with directions.

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.

 

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

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.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • 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.)

Kobe
(神戸市)

How to get there:

You can get here by plane or train. If you live in Oita on Kyushu you can take an overnight boat from Beppu city.

Websites:

Cost:

  • Kobe Beef $35 ~ $200
    • To get a better deal, try having Kobe steak for lunch instead of dinner.

Videos:

Notes:

  • 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.

Meriken Park
(メリケンパーク)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°40’55.4″N 135°11’19.0″E

Address:

Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

Websites:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • the park itself is always available

Notes:

  • 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
      • ¥600
      • 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
      • ¥600
      • 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)

Steakland Kobe
(神戸のステーキランド)
(Kōbe no sutēkirando)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°41’34.9″N 135°11’31.5″E

Address:

1-8-2 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku | Miyasako Bldg. 1-2F, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0012, Japan

〒650-0012神戸市中央区北長狭通1丁目9番17号 三宮興業ビル6階

Phone:

  • +81 78-332-1653

Websites:

Cost:

Hours:

  • 11:00 – 22:00

Notes:

  • It’s cheaper to eat here for lunch than dinner.
  • There are 3 locations for this restaurant.

Sannomiya R2 Hostel
(神戸三宮R2ホステル)
(Kōbe Sannomiya R2 hosuteru)

How to get there:

Address:

2-4-6 Kumoi-dori Chuoku-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 691-0096, Japan

Phone:

  • +81-80-4496-3034

Websites:

e-mail:

Cost:

Hours:

  • reception 9:00-22:00
  • Check in 15:00 – 22:00
  • Check out 10:00

Notes:

  • 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.

Map:

 

Posted in Honshū, Hyōgo 県, Japan, Kobe 市 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mini Trips

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 17, 2014

November 3, 2013 – February 9, 2014

All Pictures

He thinks I want to hurt Kobe’s economy.

Take a Little Trip

This entry is about the little trips we took either on the way to running errands, or just a long walk around our neighborhood. None of them would make a good trip on their own, but they make nice added detours.

That’s my foot!

Robot a PSA: Don’t Date Robots

We were heading up north to get some stuff from the Costco in Kobe. We left home really early in the morning so we would not get stuck in traffic. The plan worked beautifully; there were very few cars on the road. But, we ended up in Kobe a good 45 minutes before Costco opened. Rather than sit in the Costco parking lot we checked the GPS to find interesting things nearby.

That’s how we found Gigantor. Since it was so early in the morning there were plenty of probably-illegal parking spots on the side of the road. I wedged the car between two illegally parked trucks and checked my watch. I figured if we stayed less than 15 minutes we’d be okay. No one bothered us about our parking.

Hello human!

The next detour we came across on a map of the area. There was a picture of a robot on a map. So, we went to see it. It was in fact a big robot. He seemed friendly and loved having his photo taken.

Other than the robot, which is at a rest stop, there was nothing else to do in the area. There were restaurants at the rest stop, but they were all overpriced and didn’t seem like anything special.

What time is it? 11:20.

Around the Neighborhood

The rest are things we happened upon while walking near our apartment. This first one was some sort of oasis. There is a water-clock, a fountain where people fill up their jugs of water, a foot bath, and a water playground for kids.

I think it is supposed to promote keeping the water clean and safe to drink. This part of town has a lot of factories, so I guess people need to be reminded that clean water is a gift that should not be taken for granted.

prayers

The next is one of the many temples on the hill near our home. There is nothing special about this particular temple. It’s just a nice place to walk to and around and a great place to take some photos.

More clean water!

All Pictures


 

 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

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.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • 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.)

Gigantor
(鉄人28号)
in (Wakamatsu Park)
(若松公園)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’20.1″N 135°08’38.2″E

Address:

Wakamatsu Park
兵庫県神戸市長田区若松町6丁目3

6-3 Wakamatsucho, Nagata-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 653-0038, Japan

Websites:

Cost:

The park itself is free. You might have to pay for parking. There is a mall nearby, but I’m not sure what the park situation is like there. Mark and I just parked on the side of the road and only stayed long enough to take a few photos.

Hours:

  • Always available.

Videos:

Notes:

  • He protects the city of Kobe. From what? I don’t know. Let’s say… cattle rustlers.
  • There is a mall nearby.

Z-Gandum
(Ζガンダム)
at (道の駅久米の)
(Michi no eki kume no sato)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°03’21.6″N 133°55’22.1″E

Address:

久米の里>
563-1 Miyao
Tsuyama, Okayama 709-4613

Phone:

  • 0868-57-7234

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • Always available

Time Aqua Garden
(おまちアクアガーデン)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°41’10.8″N 133°58’21.3″E

Address:

おまちアクアガーデン
岡山県岡山市中区雄町

Phone:

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • 9:00 ~ 18:00

Notes:

  • You can refill your water bottle here for free.
  • There is also an area for kids to play in the water along with a foot bathe.

Ontokuji
(恩徳寺)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 34°39’54.8″N 133°57’44.1″E

Address:

613 Sawada Naka Ward, Okayama, 703-8234 Japan

Phone:

  • +81 86-272-4843

Website:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • regular temple hours

Notes:

  • This is a small temple in a small neighborhood.

Map:

Posted in Honshū, Hyōgo 県, Japan, Kobe 市, Okayama 県, Okayama 市 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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