The plan for day 5 was to take another day trip out of Osaka to Kobe. Unlike Nara and Osaka, Kobe feels more westernized.
To get to Kobe, we took the JR line from Osaka Station to Kobe Station. There were express trains too which will skip most of the stops and so we aimed for that. Unfortunately, when rushing to get onto the train, I dropped my sunglasses into the crevice between the train and platform and it went down into the track! Only when the train started moving did I come to a realization that I had no sunglasses for today (it’s REALLY sunny, impossible to keep my eyes opened outdoors) and my sunglasses could be gone forever. That wasn’t such a smooth start for the day and probably dampened my spirits a bit.
Anyway, other than JR, there are other options like Hanshin and Hankyu trains which goes to Kobe.
The guide book we picked up at the airport mentioned that Kobe has good breads, so the first thing we did upon reaching Kobe was to get some bread for breakfast. The bread shop at Kobe station has really good melon bread. Do give it a try!
The area around Kobe Station was quite developed and Kobe Harbour was nearby.
For the sake of it, we went to check out Kobe Port Tower, which has an entrance fee of ¥500 ($6.25). It wasn’t very interesting honestly, so you may want to skip this. (In fact, you can actually skip Kobe altogether)
This was the view of the town from the tower. Kobe is pretty developed, save for the mountainous regions.
Kobe Port Tower
Kobe, Chuo-ku Hatoba-cho 5-5
From Kobe Harbourland, we decided to walk to the Sorakuen Garden. Along the way we bought bread from a random bread shop and it was delicious too. I guess it’s true that Kobe has good bread.
Along the way, we passed by Patisserie Gregory Collet, the cake store which we took ages to find in Osaka. The Kobe outlet is along Motomachi Shopping Arcade, and there’s a train station near it too.
The Chinatown area of Kansai region, Nankinmachi, was spotted along the way too.
Finally, after a 20 minutes walk, we found Sorakuen Gardens. The entrance fee is ¥300 ($3.75).
A couple was spotting having their wedding photos taken. It was quite a small garden. I also noticed some mothers and children having picnics. Perhaps it would be more beautiful when the flowers bloom, probably during early spring.
相楽園 Sorakuen Garden
〒 650-0004 Chuo-ku, Kobe Nakayamatedori 5-3-1
The next stop was lunch. At Kobe, it is only logical to have Kobe beef even though I know the Kobe cows aren’t exactly reared in Kobe. The placed I picked for lunch was located at the shopping mall at Shin Kobe. The restaurant is called Wakkoqu. I reckon it is popular among tourist, because I saw this recommendation on Trip Advisor, but there was a fair amount of locals dining there too. We had the Wakkoqu Lunch (¥5544/ $69.30), which consists of 150 g sirloin (Kobe Beef), roast vegetable medley, soup of the day, salad, rice with pickles, dessert and coffee.
This was the portion for 2, which was 300g. The marbling was beautiful.
Overall, it was better than Misono, because the marbling of the beef was better, but it wasn’t my best beef ever. Fat Cow in Singapore has better wagyu steak, but of course I cannot expect to get such highly marbled beef for $69.30. The cooking technique was good and the doneness was the perfect medium rare. However, if I were to have Kobe beef in Japan again, I think I would go all the way for the highest grade because this was good, but not good enough to blow me away.
3F Shin-Kobe Oriental Avenue 1, 1-Chome Kitano-cho Chuo-ku Kobe-City
The original plan for the day was to go on the Shin Kobe rope way, which was supposedly near Shin Kobe mall, but I couldn’t find the place and since it wasn’t cheap either I decided to change my itinerary for the day and went to the Sake Breweries of Nada instead.
To get to the breweries, it was a 10 minutes walk from the nearest train station Ishiyagawa. This part of Kobe has a cluster of breweries scattered all over. Not all are open on Sunday and some closes by 4pm, so we were only left with few choices.
Image from their website.
The brewery we visited is called Kobe Shushinkan. The brand they produce here is called Fukuju.
Free tasting is available and the staff was kind enough to let me sample all sorts.
We bought a big bottle of fresh sake after tasting. It doesn’t contain any form of preservatives so it can last only 1 week. The bottle and sake are sold separately. If you have your own bottle, you would actually just buy the sake, using your bottle. I can’t remember the exact price, but with the 720ml bottle it costs around $20.
For bottled sake, I especially liked the Yuzu Sake and bought a bottle back too. The price is very reasonable in my opinion, at ¥1,050 ($13.23) for 500ml .
1-8-17 Mikage Tsukamachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe City
It was about 5pm by now and the next plan was dinner. I looked up the Michelin Guide for restaurants in Kobe, but sadly, many are closed on Sunday. We found one which wasn’t closed on Sunday but to our surprise, the restaurant wasn’t there anymore when we found the place using the address. We didn’t have the good luck like we did for Nara I guess, so the next thing we could do was to return to Osaka.
In order to try to retrieve my sunglasses, we took the JR line back from Sanomiya Station. Once at Osaka, we tried to communicate with various station masters to let them know what has happened. After what seems like forever (a bit more than half an hour actually), they finally got the message and sent someone to locate and retrieve it. Luckily, I remembered which platform and roughly which door did I drop it and they found it eventually. The Japanese are quite dedicated to their work thankfully, and they were still polite to us despite us wasting their time. Amazingly, my glasses survived unscathed! Come to think of it, once it falls into the track area, it is pretty safe as trains ONLY moves on the tracks lines, not anywhere else. As long as it doesn’t land on the track lines, chances are it wouldn’t ever be knocked over by the incoming trains! I dropped it when the train was stationary, so of course it landed somewhere else outside the track lines. It wouldn’t be stolen either because no one would risk their lives to go down to steal it (and no one can tell what brand it was anyway!).
By the time we returned to the Shinsaibashi area, we were famished. We settled dinner at a random Soba restaurant. Only when I was inside did I realise why it was so crowded – because they allowed smoking.
Nevertheless, the food was pretty decent and reasonably priced!