Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Japan 2012: Kobe Day Trip - Day 9 & 10 (Final)

Date of Travel: 10 April 2012

We fell in love with Kobe. It took awhile for me to have the inspiration to write this post, as I was afraid I couldn't convey into words on how much we love Kobe. So why do we love Kobe so much? We love any city that fulfills the following:
  • Comprehensive but cheap public transport system
  • Easy to navigate maps showing all the must-see attractions
  • A huge variety of things to see/do
  • Food that is super yummy and varied
  • A clean and cheerful city
The City Loop bus that goes in a loop all day long, for 650¥ per person
Inside the bus, there are clear directions in English and a very helpful conductor

This is a very long Flower Street, and it's loaded with flowers the whole way!

If you're curious on where else I think fulfills all of the above, it's Paris and Sydney. Kobe had everything we wanted in a holiday. For starters, there is a splendid transport system here in terms of a City Loop Bus. For 650¥, you get to ride on it for the whole day, and it stops at all the interesting tourist stops. Their map is lovely and one can easily decide where to visit from that map. An online version of the map is available here.

As most told us, there is "nothing to do in Kobe". Just go there to eat the beef and go back to Osaka. So we had done our research and picked Plaisir Restaurant for their immaculate Kobe Beef. This restaurant closes on Monday, so we scheduled our trip for a Tuesday instead. We timed our journey to arrive Kobe for lunch at 11:30am, and had planned to leave after lunch around 2pm. The train was pretty easy, just find the Hanshin train from Osaka Namba to Sannomiya station. The train station was sparkling new, yet with an old colonial design. This was a hint as to how pretty the city is.

Inside Plaisir Restaurant. Privacy is very important to Japanese when dining, thus the curtains between tables

The teppanyaki area in a private room. Photos were not allowed where guests are dining

We found our way to Plaisir Restaurant, and were given the bad news - it's fully booked for teppanyaki! Our choices were to have it as shabu-shabu or steamed in bamboo trays. Having come all the way, we went ahead to have shabu-shabu. The price was 3150¥ per person for a set meal, which includes the Kobe Beef. This was our meal:
Your sauces and condiments to accompany the meal

Tea, Vinegar (Choya of some kind), and 2 appetizers
The pot with PLAIN WATER came, along with 14 slices of beef and wild vegetables

AFTER FINISHING the beef, rice + miso soup and pickles were served. Drinking of soup from the beef pot is not allowed

Finally dessert. The drink was redeemed from an online coupon on their website
The verdict? It was a been-there-done-that situation. The beef didn't have a strong beef taste, it was light but pleasant. However, I wanted my beef to taste and smell like beef! Gimme an Aussie Rib-Eye any day. With Kobe Beef conquered, we started to wander around the area. This town was quaint and new, unlike the rest we had been. Kyoto was ancient and had high integrity, but clean and calm. Nara was trying to be Eco friendly and green, and it has done a good job. But it was too cold to let us explore more. Osaka was kinda like a melting pot of all sorts of things. Messy, faster paced, and dirtier compared to the rest. Kobe, we like it to be new and modern, clean and beautiful. In the town area where we had very limited time to explore, there are flowers at every corner. Pots hanging on posts, flower boxes on the pathways, or flower beds at the junctions of streets. It was very tourist friendly, the city loop bus has helped us to glimpse on several sites we didn't have time to go.

We first walked and saw Ikuta shrine by chance. This shrine was quite good for us, as it wasn't too small nor too big, and had a lovely garden at the back. Though we have seen so many shrines in Kyoto, we love this the best.

Entrance to Ikuta Shrine

The pond at the gardens inside Ikuta Shrine

A different type of Cherry Blossom

We next headed to Kitano. This is an artsy area where the buildings were all colonial, and they had a mini London here. For a small fee, you can even enter the House of Sherlock Holmes. Weddings are very popular in Kitano due to the feel of the place. We spent a good 2 hours here!

We chanced upon a wedding. I think they didn't like their photo taken :)

Many quaint shops in Kitano area, lovely!

These are facial oil blotters in varied designs

Flowers were everywhere in Kitano, so pretty!

Even the manhole covers have different designs

Next, we took the city loop bus to the port area to see Kobe tower. But the last bus was at 5:43pm, our plan to take a night shot with Kobe tower didn't realize as we were afraid to miss the city loop bus to go back to Sannomiya and back to Osaka. The Kobe tower area was very pretty again next to the water, with the shopping centre called Harbourland beside it.

This was the famous Chinatown in Kobe, which we didn't have time for!
I would love to return to Kobe for a few nights. If we had enough time, we would have liked to visit Chinatown, the Rokkosan Pasture for the Cheese House and Sheep Farm. Also at another area is the ropeway to Mount Rokko for the wonderful onsen called Arima Hot Springs.

This was a good day to end our trip, as the following day was just making our way to the Osaka Kansai airport at 6am. We have unfinished business in Japan, and will return in due time!

Related posts:
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 1
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 2
Review: Super Hotel Lohas JR Nara, Japan
Japan2012: What Did I Buy Back?
Review: Hana Hostel, Kyoto
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 1
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 2
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 3
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 4
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 5
Japan2012: Nara 3D/2N Itinerary - Day 5,6,7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 8
Japan 2012: Kobe Day Trip - Day 9 & 10 (Final)


heni said...

Just finished your blog on Japan 2012 :). May I know what happen to the initial plan for Shiragawa-go Village?

Angie said...

Hi heni, thanks for reading :)

I ended up not visiting Shirakawa-go, as I thought a 5-hour bus ride to and fro would be too time consuming for this trip. If you do visit, do let me know how nice it is!

heni said...

Ok, is almost the same timing as my plan to go this year :)

If you have not been to Hokkaido, pls go. By judging your blog, I guess you will love it there compare to a city like Tokyo :D

Angie said...

Thank you for the suggestion heni. And yes I do plan to visit Hokkaido next. If you do have any tips for me, please do share :)

heni said...

email me if you have any questions :)

@ henilim@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

gamey beef is for cheap steaks.
you basically dont know how to appreciate food.

ruffeecola said...

i like the flora. sharing my photos as well of
Kitano City District