ultramarinus – beyond the sea

DAY 2 – A DAY IN KOBE, Kobe (神戸市), Japan

Before we headed south to Kumano Kodo, we based ourselves in Osaka.  From Osaka, we were spoiled with options of destinations for day trips.  On our first day we picked Yoshino.  On our second we headed northwest to the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe (神戸).  In 1850s the port of Kobe had been opened to the world, and since then, the city had developed into one of Japan’s most cosmopolitan city.  Two decades ago the city experienced one of the most devastating earthquakes in Japan in the 20th century, the Great Hanshin Earthquake.  Thousands lost their lives and uncounted buildings damaged.   Today, except a few spots where the damage was preserved as memorials, much of the damaged neighborhoods in Kobe has been fully restored and rejuvenated. 1JR is probably the most efficient transportation in Japan but may not be the most economical to cover the short distance between Osaka and Kobe.  From the Kansai Airport, we purchased the 1-day Hanshin Tourist Pass for only 500 yen for unlimited rides on Hanshin trains between Osaka and Kobe. 2We arrived at around lunch time. We headed straight to Ishida, a teppanyaki restaurant that we found online near Sannomiya train station for lunch. It was a Sunday afternoon and the small lanes north of Sannomiya were very quiet.  Inside Ishida, however, the scene was quite different, and we were lucky to take the last two seats without reservations. 3We sat along a L-shaped teppanyaki table side by side with other guests.  The chef carefully prepared our beef and the side vegetables on the hot stainless teppanyaki table grill.  We ordered two kinds of steaks:  the Kobe A5 steak and a wagyu ribeye.  Both were top quality but the Kobe steak with its well mixed marble texture had an exceptional buttery flavor. 4After the fine lunch, we headed south to the Motomachi neighborhood near Chinatown.  In the area, a number of old buildings were redeveloped into atmospheric retail complexes of designer boutiques, craft shops, and artist studios. 5We then took a Hanshin train to Iwaya Station for Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.  The main purpose for the visit is to check out the building designed by architect Tadao Ando. 6Completed in 2002, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art was dominated by Ando’s signature use of architectural concrete. 7Concrete walls, glass halls, spiral feature stair, and thin slab roofs create a solid piece of architecture, in a way echoing the city’s rise from the devastating earthquake of 1995. 8Exterior spaces on various levels of the building roof are used for roof terraces and outdoor art display areas. 9Roof terraces of various sizes and shapes provide interesting experience for visitors. 10A section of the museum exhibit is devoted to the architecture of Tadao Ando.  Architectural models of various scales, including this model of the 4×4 House in Kobe. 11The large overhanging eaves were quite visible when we exited the museum from the side facing the sea. 12Along the seaside promenade, Ando also designed a number of architectural features in the park adjacent to Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art. 13Next time, we will definitely visit the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum. The museum was designed to commemorate the devastating earthquake in 1995.  The museum aims to educate the public about disaster prevention and to remember the city’s  loss in the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake. 15Before we caught the evening train back to Osaka, we joined the queue in front of a local butcher, Moriya, for some deep fried snacks. 14It was almost 7:00pm, and the store was about to close. There were that many choices left. We ordered two kinds of croquette and just like the other locals, ate them on the street right in front of the store.

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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka

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