Four Cities in One Day

Community Highlights Asia Four Cities in One Day

Our original plan was to go straight from Hiroshima to Osaka, but we beefed up the itinerary a bit.

We set off from Hiroshima in the morning, catching our final Japanese tram, and then our final shinkansen for the trip as well, stopping at the small city of Himeji (a bit over 500,000 people, similar to the Gold Coast). The star attraction is Himeji Castle, an imposing white wooden structure built on top of a hill overlooking the town.


Obviously it would have been overlooking a lot more than a regional city when it was built way back in the early 1600s. Amazingly, it has survived all this time without being destroyed by earthquakes, typhoons, civil wars or World War 2 air raids (even though the town itself was extensively bombed twice). It has had major restoration works a couple of times though.


It's listed as one of Japan's three great castles, and unlike the 'top three' accolade mentioned in yesterday's entry, we think this is richly deserved. Indeed, it's the most visited castle in Japan.


The views get better and better as you continue to go up the narrow staircases in the main keep, winding through the castle's 83 rooms that would have been very difficult to successfully attack.


Our next stop was the neighbouring Koko-en Garden (well, the castle and the garden are separated by a moat, but I guess they're still neighbours). This was a worthy stop too, with two waterfalls and a series of walled gardens including the aptly named 'Garden with a hill and pond'. Caroline was rather taken with the skittish koi fish.


We had a quick lunch at Himeji Station, then retrieved our bag from the locker and caught the train to Kobe. Best known for Kobe beef and Kobe Bryant, Kobe is a big port city on Japan's south coast. Well, with 1.5 million residents it's not exactly huge, but it's a dense and lively area, certainly more than Himeji.

It was probably partly the Sunday festivities, but we encountered plenty of people out and about, attending street festivals, having barbecues under bridges, or playing in fountains by the docks.

We walked through busy Chinatown, which seemed to have more Japanese restaurants than Chinese.

It still thoroughly beat the Buenos Aires Chinatown for Chinese-ness. To be fair though, there aren't passenger ferries running directly from Buenos Aires to Shanghai like there are from Kobe

We found egg tarts!

We had a wonder around the docks, where there is a powerful reminder of the 1995 Kobe earthquake that devastated the region, cost more than 6000 lives and caused an economic slowdown due to the halt in trade.

They've kept this section of the docks as it was after the earthquake

The rebuilt, family-friendly options around the docks

Cool graffiti (although obviously it should be 'fewer')

Then for something more lighthearted with a cable car ride. Like many Japanese cities, Kobe is trapped: hemmed in between the ocean and some very steep, forested mountains. This means you don't have to go far to get a bit of nature.

We caught the cable car after the well-regarded Nunobiki Herb Garden was closed, so there wasn't too much to see on the mountain. But we got our money's worth in views of the city:


Of a dam in the mountains:

And even of Osaka off in the distance:

At the top, there was a few shops and restaurants set out in a slightly bizarre quasi piazza thing. It was as if someone had an idea of what Europe was like and transported it over to Japan. It was a pretty good likeness, but they made it too clean and there weren't nearly enough people.

A flower arrangement in the piazza thing

But we were nearing the end of our energy stores and wanting some dinner, so we went back down the mountain, caught the train to Osaka and checked into our hotel (we're staying in a two-star hotel for the next few days, which feels pretty much like our previous Airbnb rooms).

We were keen for a night off Japanese food, so had a burger at famous US chain Shake Shack instead - technically it counts as a cultural experience because it's not available in Australia.

Tomorrow we get to explore Osaka. Hopefully the one city can hold our attention for an entire day!

Bonus pictures of the day:
A Coca-Cola panda in Kobe's Chinatown - so culturally appropriate

Part of the Kobe street parade

This featured blog entry was written by samoline from the blog Samoline's travels.
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By samoline

Posted Sun, May 19, 2019 | Japan | Comments