Kobe, a city less than an hour away from Osaka by train, tucked away between a mountain range and the sea with lots of former foreign settlements. It really reminded me of Qingdao with its European influenced architecture and seaside parks and boulevards. It makes for a perfect day trip from Osaka.
I started my day by going to Kobe City Hall observatory which offered a nice view over the city, both seaside and the mountains. It is also very conveniently located just a few minutes away from Kobe-Sannomiya station in the center of the city. By the time I was done there it was almost lunch time.
For lunch what else could I do but taste the famous Kobe beef. Based on online reviews I chose to go to Steak Land and take advantage of their lunch set deals. I was there a little before their opening time to avoid the long lines that were bound to form on a Saturday. I got seated immediately and after the table was full the chef started cooking everyone’s orders on the teppanyaki grill in front of us. It was a show on its own and beautiful to look at. The beef itself just like the rest of the meal was very delicious and melt in your mouth. Totally a worthy experience.
After lunch I headed towards the Kitano area, walking briefly though Ikuta Shrine. Kitano area is a great place to just stroll around the small streets that go up towards the mountain. The streets are lined with old foreign houses turned into museums as well as some expensive local apartments. Between the houses I could also spot some cars that clearly told how much it had to cost to live in that area…
The next stop on my journey was The Nunobiki Herb Gardens and rope-way. I took the one way ticket up to the top of the mountain and enjoyed some honey-dew soft serve ice cream and a great view of Kobe. Afterwards I started my descend through the gardens. In the area of the herb gardens all the signs and explanations were available in English and it was a lovely and fragrant area all in all. Once I left the garden area and entered the hiking path down, all the English stopped… Luckily when in Japan there is always someone asking you if you’re OK or do you need any help. The hike down was a bit more than I had prepared for, mainly in the sence of too many mosquitoes and not enough bug spray, as in none at all. But it was well worth the scenery along the way and the air in the mountain was much cooler and more comfortable than in the city.
For the evening I met up with a local Couchsurfer who took me to Kobe Harborland to enjoy the city’s famous night-views. The whole atmosphere of the city felt so much more relaxed and casual compared to Osaka. Even if Kobe is a big city, it still felt very cosy and inviting and a place where I would like to return to even after I had seen all the major sights and attractions in just one day.
To end a great day in Kobe I got to enjoy a motorcycle ride to the train station thanks to my fellow Couchsurfer. And I must say the city isn’t famous for its night-views for nothing. It was a memorable day in a memorable city and I feel like I will be back one day, sooner or later.