Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

11/11/12: Kobe, Japan

We awoke to a drizzly day in the port of Kobe, and the four of us decided to head out with the Fowler family to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens, where a gondola takes you up into the hills overlooking Kobe, where we could see the MV Explorer docked below. The Kobe region looks much like the Bay Area, with green hills rising nearly straight from the water, the temperate fall rain adding to the effect.

We ran across this container just lying on a sidewalk, and I have no idea what it was. They don't eat pickled turtle around here, do they?

The Warner and Fowler boys yucking it up outside a 7-Eleven, which are very common here on the ground floors of tall buildings.

Our first order of business was finding an ‘English-speaking’ ATM, which wasn’t as easy as you might think. Having lived in Japan, Mike and Julie guided us through town to find a place to have lunch, where Tate had the misfortune of having miso soup spilled all over him (I felt even worse for our non-English speaking waitress, who seemed positively horrified that the poor little guy got a miso shower!).

This is what the entrance to a Japanese parking lot looks like; the robotic system 'files' your car, then retrieves it when you want it.

The town of Kobe is very clean and very modern, with no hint whatsoever of any earthquake-affected structures (other than the fact that many seemed recent); apparently the Port of Kobe was literally rebuilt from the ground up after the earthquake. Mike (firmly in the lead with map in hand) then led us to the subway, which took us a few miles to the base of the hills. Fortunately the clouds parted a bit so we could see below, and we had a nice walk down through garden paths and a lush, green forest, with great views of a waterfall along the way. Although Tate is usually warm, he was uncharacteristically huddled inside his rain jacket, and occasionally complained “I smell like miso soup!” Poor kid will probably never eat the stuff again. 

The view from the top very much resembled the view from the Berkeley Hills.

Flower beds being tended to at Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens.

Construction by large monkeys in the area?

This appeared to be Kobe's official 'symbol', or perhaps it is a representation of Kobe in Japanese?

I’m sure you’ve heard how expensive it is to travel in Japan, but wow, I wasn’t prepared for it. Fortunately public transportation is relatively inexpensive, otherwise it could prove prohibitive just to get around, as even the most minimal of taxi rides starts at around $40. After catching a train back to the MV Explorer, we decided that having dinner on the ship would be the right thing to do, and, coupled with the weather, it wasn’t difficult to convince ourselves to stay in for the night. 

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