When someone mention Kobe, I either think about the world famous Kobe beef (aka “Wagyu Beef”), or the deadly 1995 earthquake that killed over 7000 people. My first impression of it, was that it is a rather Western town, apparent in its building designs. That’s because, like Yokohama, it was, and still is a major trading port, and hence the large foreign settlement here. I actually felt like I was in Australia for a minute walking around town!
It is only a 20 minutes train ride from Osaka, so it’s not far at all. Yet, it has a rather unique feel to the city. Keep in mind, the WHOLE city was essentially rebuilt after the 1995 earthquake. It’s quite a testament to the nation and its people here, for their ability to rebuild and recover!
I actually made a special effort to go to this memorial. This deadly earthquake happened when I was in Year 11, back in 1995 when I was still tenderly young (Don’t laugh). I recalled a rather attractive Japanese girl from Kobe on an exchange program, staying over in Brisbane before the earthquake struck. It was lucky for her since she was not in Kobe when it happened, but the impact on her family & friends were unfortunately not so lucky. Even though this earthquake did not have a direct impact on me, it did leave a permanent mark in my memory on its impact. This memorial did a really good job re-living the horrors, and the wonderful recovery after the tragic event. There are huge cinematic theatres to show you footages of the earthquake, models on improving building designs, and plenty of awareness type information on the earthquake. You are not human if the cinematic experience of the movie does not bring a slight tear in your eyes. It is definitely worth a visit.
Kobe is sandwiched between the sea, and mountains nearby. The Arima mountains, specifically are blessed with numerous springs, and onsens here dating right back hundreds of years. It is one of the top 3 Onsen spots in the country! I went for a dip anyway in one of the public onsen called Gin-no-yu. Reading one of the signs on the benefits of this onsen, it is suppose to give me increased blood flow through my system, resulting in smooth and healthy skin.
Gosh.. I feel pretty already before I even sink myself into the spring!
Anyway, there are probably over 100 hotels/spas on this mountain. Here is just a list of some. There is even a dedicated shrine to worship the Onsen god! You better pay a visit to this place, should you receive the full benefits from the onsens around here!
Next time I come here, I will definitely need to consider staying here over a longer period of time.
Night View from Mt. Rokko
From Arima Mountain, it is just one cable-car ride away for one of Japan’s best night view on Mt. Rokko:
It is quite amazing that the Kobe metropolis is just nearby, when you see such a thick, dense forest from the cable car!
Unfortunately, I am no professional photographer, nor did I carry a SLR for the impressive view. Instead, I have one relatively good photo from my little Canon compact digital camera:
It is very pretty indeed, and this is where I realised just how close Osaka is. The photo above is actually that of Osaka Bay!
It’s a pity I only took a day trip here. There are certainly more things to see and do in this wonderfully recovered city. Besides, I did not get to try the world famous Kobe beef yet! More excuses for me to get my butt back in Japan some time in the near future!