Hey, where'd everyone go?!
Kobe Travel Blog› entry 20 of 251 › view all entries
April 8th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Kobe is famous for the exorbitantly expensive beef it produces. The beef is apparently quite tender -- partially attributed to the breed, but mostly due to the cows' daily massages and steady diet of beer and sake! We should all be so lucky.
Kobe is also the sight of a horrific earthquake that devastated the city in 1995 and plunged Japan into an economic crisis. I still remember the images from the news programs, and can't believe it was 13 years ago... it feels more recent.
We took a regular old slow train to Kobe. It took us more time to orient ourselves once we had arrived, as we couldn't find an information area in the station (I don't think there is one).
From there we wandered out into Harborland, and up some stairs to the outside world. All around there was newer construction, and it seemed oddly desolate. Where are the crowds? Haaalllllooo? We walked along a pathway called Gas Light Street, which was very Disney-like and American looking. A woman pushing a stroller. A couple other tourists. Again, so quiet!
This street lead us to a shopping center called Mosaic.
We ate at a cute restaurant on the bottom level. I didn't catch the name, but it was fully decked out in Navajo finery. They had authentic rugs, dolls, and turquoise jewelry displayed... the works. Bizarre! I had a Mexican-style salad, served on a tortilla (but not really a tortilla), with lettuce, avocado, and tomato.
From there we walked along the waterfront towards the big orange Kobe port tower near the site of the earthquake memorial. It was windy but nice out, and we seemed to have the place to ourselves again as we made our way past the Maritime Museum.
The committee that organized the Great Hansai-Awaii Earthquake Memorial did a very unique and interesting thing: they preserved a large chunk of the earthquake-damaged pier as a reminder. A newer construction walking area surrounds the destroyed chunk of seawall, with its devastated concrete and streetlights all helter skelter. It was amazing to see, and put a lump in my throat.
From there we wanted to visit a sake brewery, and headed off in the direction of a train station. We ended up walking through Chinatown, with many brightly colored shops and outdoor food vendors. It was way too orderly! There was none of the ruckus and smells of Chinatown in San Francisco or Chicago.
From there we happened upon a covered shopping street with many high-end stores - aaaaah.
We found a train and took it to the Sumiyoshi stop, which it where many sake breweries offer tours (and samples!). We were let off in a very industrial looking area, near a freeway. We could smell the sake, we could see the breweries, but it was all loading docks and chain link fence. We walked for blocks and blocks trying to find a touristy looking area for visits, but to no avail. Perhaps we were too late in the days for tours. Oh, well, it wasn't very much fun at all so we gave up and went home.
Back in Osaka, we decided to check out the Pig & Whistle English Pub as recommended by TB's reikunboy. (My own review is below). We walked there, and founds the streets of Osaka to be as jam-packed as ever. Odd that crowds like this are starting to feel "familiar" after less than two weeks here. I guess since we will be in Asia for quite some time, I guess it's a good thing we are getting accustomed to crowds. I hear there are a few people in Beijing :^)
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