#TravelKansai : KOBE & HIMEJI IN ONE DAY



When in Kobe one must eat Kobe beef right? Not exactly especially if you are not so much of a meat lover like me (definitely not religion issues, there's halal kobe beef too by the way) lol, i do eat meat but i just prefer fish more.
But probably next time i'll consider about this la, for now it's more about what can you see while you are in Hyogo prefecture especially if you have less than 10 hours a day (including commuting- train/ walking) to visit a prefecture!
Many who stay in Osaka would always take a side day trip down to Kobe just to enjoy an authentic kobe beef cuisine and come back up again to continue exploring around Osaka or Kyoto. Kansai region is actually rather small though the size of the map may look intimidating to some, the major tourists attractions can be easily covered within a week if you spend a day trip like i did to its neighbouring prefectures.

This trip to Hyogo marks my 6th prefecture (yay) visit in Japan and i'm definitely looking forward to visiting more in the future. Many would ask, what's the point to always keep on going back to Japan when you can travel to other countries but most of them usually fail to see what other prefectures especially least visited ones has more to offer than the usual city parts like Tokyo or Osaka.


How many of you actually thought of KOBE as a prefecture of it's own? LOL


Don't deny it! I've came across many whom i've asked before on parts of Japan they have visited and quite a number of them mentioned that they have visited "kobe prefecture" 😅


Kobe is actually a capital Hyogo prefecture, considered one of the 10 largest cities in Japan. 


Himeji is also part of Hyogo prefecture alongside with 27 other cities, so technically if you want to properly "explore" the whole of Hyogo prefecture properly then i would advise to stay in Kobe and slowly make your way around from there visiting from top to bottom. Some parts are quite far out especially if you are planning to go just for a day trip like i did so instead of spreading our itinerary too thin we've decided to just visit places that are nearby Sannomiya station. You can easily use your Kansai Hiroshima Pass and take the shinkansen down, roughly about 20-30 minutes ride, rather convenient but there are other ways to reach Sannomiya which involves changing lines and longer time but overall it's much cheaper especially if you don't have any of the JR passes.

Though Kobe is big, the best place for tourist to start their exploration is definitely at Sannomiya (more happening area), around here there are reputable restaurants one can get authentic Kobe beef for lunch/ dinner and grab a bike to cycle around nearby temples or malls.
And having roughly about 10-12 hours there, i probably only touched the surface tip of Kobe but it's sufficient enough to get a taste of this city!


Just outside Sannomiya station


Free Bicycle Rental with JR Kansai-Hiroshima Pass

I just found out that my JR Kansai-Hiroshima pass is valid for free Ekirin kun (bicycle rental) on a first come first serve basis at Ekirin Kun bicycle rental service near train stations targeted for tourists. Easily saved 500 yen of full day rental fees thanks to the JR pass.
All you have to do is present it at the counter and they'll photocopy your passport, brief you about the necessary precautions and closing time before handing you the keys.
More details visit: EKIRIN KUN (JR-WEST)

Finally rode a bicycle again after more than 15 years!

And i dropped and rode over my phone =_= kns betul. Just after i got it back from the service center after a horrible freak accident which costed me RM400+ just to change my phone's screen.
Luckily before i traveled, i've managed to get a template glass screen protector fixed on and bought a bumper phone casing, yes i became super paranoid after the previous accident that could easily been avoided if only i've installed in a template glass protector earlier instead of the normal ones.

I struggled abit, being wobbly and all till i managed to get a hang of the cycling rhythm, and guess what? I wasn't dressed in appropriate clothing as well lol, skirt and cycling so half the time i was struggling to make sure i don't accidentally flash anyone 😅

You know, i've always wondered how Japanese people can so easily leave their bikes outside without anyone stealing them since there isn't any visible chain and padlock securing their bicycles in sight and i finally got my curiosity answered lol. There IS a lock, just that it's tiny and located act the between the rear seat and tyre. Really cheat my feelings lol!


So that's the "tiny" lock

I know that bicycles are expensive in Japan as they are considered a mode of transportation while other countries use them for leisure or exercise instead. Makes alot of sense to HAVE a lock or else anyone can just steal it, guess there are some things you can leave unattended and no one will steal it like your laptop in starbucks but try not to push your luck or it will run out sooner than you think.

Learning something new everyday LOL.



I have no stamina (literally 0)

As an ex athlete, i am seriously ashamed of myself on this matter.
Not being hard on myself or anything it's just embarrassing because i used to love run on the track so often, and thought cycling roughly about 2km wouldn't kill me but i was so wrong!
My legs and thighs were crying or even better, screaming "bloody murder" with every push it made

Japanese mothers are damn strong like seriously strong in terms of physical strength despite their frail petite outlook.  2 kids, one in the front basket area and the other on a child seat at the back while the mother cycles uphill effortlessly while all i had was my backpack on my front basket and i was totally out of breath in less than 5 minutes of furiously pedaling uphill. What sorcery is this?
Now my new dream is to be strong like a Japanese mother wei, a new found admiration for them on top of their independence when it comes to children and household matters.


Kitano Ijinkan-gai

If it weren't for Wataru-san's suggestion to visit this place, i would have probably missed Kitano Ijinkan and spent most of my time visiting the usual temples and eating instead lol. Thank you Wataru-san! Located at the foot of Mount Rokko, north of Sannomiya station and the ride to Kitano Ijinkan is roughly about 1km +, with decent weather you can even walk as well (15 minutes by foot) or another alternative is to take their City loop buses .

It does remind me somewhat of the French Village, Pahang in my own country Malaysia lol with all the western architectures except these are exact replicas made into exhibition from the colonial period. The area is actually big so you can easily spend half a day there and they do have a special day pass that covers all exhibition entries however is you are pressing for time, then you can opt for singular priced tickets which is slightly more expensive than the bundle tickets but at least you get to select which place you want to visit instead of going for all.
If you do appreciate being surrounded with historical pieces then you would enjoy this place, but a little warning that i can be rather packed with tour groups throughout the week, and the best time to visit is early in the morning when the whole place is peaceful. The crowd only starts to build up around 11.30am onwards.


Ways to get here

  • walk (15-20 minutes by foot) 
  • Cycling (10 mins)
  • City loop buses 

City Loop bus




People come here to pray for success for their studies



Started with a shrine visit at the Kitano Tenman, one of Kobe's major Shinto shrines located among the foreign residences of Kitano Ijinkan. At the entrance of the shrine there's a fountain with a koi statue for you to wash your hands and mouth before entering.
The Koi actually symbolizes "love" as the word "Koibito" means "lover", so that's why people come to this temple to also pray for a happy relationship and marriage, i prayed for that many times but ain't getting it but no harm for you guys to try as well lol (it's just me who has bad luck with relationships).




Also here's a tip for you guys whenever you visit a shrine, avoid walking in the middle of the stairs leading up to the temple grounds, there's a reason behind it.
The middle pathway is basically where the deities walk, so for us humans we should take the left or right part of the path (whichever the crowd direction flows)


Weathercock House (Kazamidori no Yakata)

pretty stained glass!

 Reception room


Managed to visit Weathercock House (Kazamidori no Yakata), built in 1909 for a German merchant named Gottfried Thomas. The house and most of it's decor from that period still remains intact and in well kept conditions despite the frequent flocking of tourists, and photography/ videography is allowed as long you are not obstructing the walkway, refrain from using flash as these harsh lights can cause damages to the artifacts.
Visitation hours are from 9am to 6pm daily
Admission fee: 500yen


Powder room

When you take a photo an upload it on Facebook, twitter or instagram you'll get to claim a free postcard



Adult combination ticket (access to Weathercock & Moegi House) : 650 yen (save 200 yen)


Our second place was Moegi House, built in 1903 it has served as the residence of US consul general Hunter Sharp before becoming the house of Former Kobe electric railway president Kobayashi Hideo in 1944, and today it's opened to public for viewing. I like this place because it's painted in a dainty pastel green shade and has a verandah area overlooking Kobe port!
Can imagine spending evening here, enjoying the sunset over a cup of tea, i really do think that i am born in the wrong era because i appreciate the olden ways more than the modern ones :(
Admission fee: 350 yen (adult)


You got to remove your shoes before going inside but don't worry as they'll provide house slippers for you to use. I like keeping these kind of tickets as keepsakes, and later if i have time add it to my dairy/ scrapbook. Anyone reading this post does the same as well? Lol.

The verandah


Other homes you can visit:
  • Uroko House and Uroko Museum
  • Yamate Hachibankan
  • Kitano Foreigners Association
  • Former Chinese Consulate
  • England House
  • Ben's House
  • Former Panama Consulate
  • Dutch Museum and Fragrance House
  • Wien-Austria House
  • Denmark House
  • Platon Decorative Arts Museum (Italian House)
  • Yokan Nagaya (France House)

so sweet till diabetes die you man


Tried Japan's seasonal Starbuck drink

Seriously all i could describe the taste was diabetes in a cup, if i were to convert the price for a cup of frappuccino to my country's currency it's enough for me to get another cup equal of value lol. Well, first time for everything so why not right?
There's better coffee elsewhere but just for the fun of it and the only regrets i had was at my waistline, just hoped all that walking i did in Japan helped burned off whatever food and drinks i had which was more than my usual amount of daily calories consumption.



VISITING HIMEJI!

Another destination that was uncalled for was Himeji, considered one of the world's cultural heritage site of National treasures (UNESCO), this beautiful white castle is deserving of it's prestigious title as it illuminates under the sun and moonlight over the horizon like an white heron spreading it wings, ready to take its flight.




Sannomiya Station to Himeji Station

  • Tokaido-Sanyo Line
  • Train fare: 970 yen
  • Train time: 41 minutes 
or you can even take the Sanyo Shinkansen (unreserved seats) which takes 30 minutes to reach, only 10 mins faster lol but the pricing difference is pretty vast. Taking the Sanyo Shinkasen costs 3630 yen (RM100+) but with the Kansai Hiroshima JR pass, it's free so whichever train comes first you may hop on board.

Himeji Station to Himeji Castle

Short walk of  20 minutes (1.7km)

Entry Fee
1000 Yen (adult)
300 Yen (children)

Opening Hours
9.00am - 5pm (Autumn to Spring)
9.00am - 6pm (Summer)




If you have visited Himeji castle before you would have noticed that their mascot is a character version of the castle with eyes and a flower on it making it look like a "princess" and that's because it's inspired by the castle's name.


"Hime" in Japanese means "Princess" so it's "Hime-ji" = "Princess Ji" lol


Himeji-jo is one of the 12 OLDEST castles in Japan that survived the war, and has underwent decades of restoration and maintenance this this very day. It's also one of the highest castles i've ever climbed in Japan, there's about 7 floors in total excluding the small hike leading to it's main entrance which has proven to be a challenge because of the path twisting all over built with the intention of slowing down enemies during invasions. Make sure to wear comfy shoes whenever you are in Japan because there's tons of walking and hiking to do!



There's a total of 6 floors + basement 

Beside the main castle are the princess's cosmetic quarters (Kesho Yagura) where Senhime (千姫) spent her time while in Himeji, in glass casings there are artifacts and articles about her life and the tragedies that struck like the deaths of her child and husbands.
Being in here, you could feel the pain and loneliness (probably it's just me being too absorbed lol) of the princess, hope to one day pay respect to her grave in Kyoto.mi

I'm a puny ant in comparison lol


My camera isn't meant for night shots *sobs*

You can even catch a glimpse of himeji-jo during the day or night from a distance at the Himeji train station, they have an observation deck on the 1st floor for you to enjoy. You'll see photography enthusiasts camping over here with their high end equipments trying to get the perfect shot of this magnificent white heron castle.

For more things to do at Himeji if you have a full day to spend here, do visit www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/


Super crowded that i almost had a claustrophobic attack being squished so tightly, i'm really scared of crowds actually ;_;


Accidentally getting caught in a Matsuri (festival)


I know summer in Japan is known for having tons of festivals and fireworks but i really didn't expect to be caught in one that ended up with me being carried along with the crowd throughout the whole stretch of the street lol. Felt kinda out of place because i wasn't clad in Yukata and i wasn't going to queue for an hour just for food, one thing about Japanese people is that they have lots of patience when it comes to queueing lol and i for one know i wouldn't do such a thing for food as i would rather walk to the nearest kombini instead. #lazyftw ✌


Himeji mascot is so cute siaaa!


My first "matsuri food", well the only vendor that didn't have a long queue lol. Haven't eaten fried stuff for such a long time.

Bumped into a not so scary "oni" (demon)


My best buddie in Japan Ninja Wifi router that's only 720 yen a day instead of the usual 900 yen!
You guys can book it HERE (click me) and it will auto apply upon checking out


It's been a fun day of going back to the roots of my passion and randomly going around with a new friend, wataru-san. Hope to meet you again next time!
If there's is one thing i know i can't live without it's History, as my childhood dream was to become an archaeologist (which isn't something i have totally given up on yet) before i decided to become a fashion & costume designer lol.
I spent most of my days reading about historical stuff, exploring museums during my travels and that pretty much influenced my designs as well, that explains why i am into period costumes of any culture and constantly learning how to re-create them through traditional methods in hopes of perfecting it someday.
Thank you for having me over Kobe & Himeji, really enjoyed my time there though it was brief :)

So want to go Miyagi prefecture in Tohoku next for these cute foxes 💖


Tag: Himeji, Hyogo prefecture, Japan, Kobe, Travel Tips, Travels, Himeji Castle, Ninja wifi


XOXO,

CONVERSATION

13 comments :

Rawlins GLAM said...

Am going to Japan next week - to Tokyo to be exact and will certainly visit Starbucks. Actually planning to tour Japan next year so your itinerary will be our shining beacon.

Em said...

Thanks for your lengthy informative post! I've not been to Japan yet. Didn't know that Japanese women cycle to commute.

tenku butang said...

such a nice3 place to go.. hope one day i will be there.. huhu

JR and Kathy Mortel said...

Aah, we love Japan! We always go to Kobe for its amazing beef but never really get the chance to roam around. Maybe next time we'll try to explore it more.

Miera Nadhirah Tan said...

Japan is just so gorgeous.. I still want to visit Japan yet again in the future..

Yanrula said...

I miss Japan! I also went to their Starbucks to try out the special drinks we don't have here in Malaysia haha. And OMG the foxes are super adorable I want to hug themmmm!

Bearhy Hui Ying said...

your photo so nice!!!Never been Kobe before...

Jane Chua said...

So good that they offer free bicycle rental. Great way to protect our environment.

Crappy Blogger said...

Love your pictures! I want to go on a holiday tooo

Kahlan Lee said...

Looks like you really had fun. I don't know how to ride a bike. I'm also afraid hehe.


-Analie

Sharon Lee said...

This place is something new for me to explore. So many temples and houses to visit! Really don't mind dropping by and enjoy some Kobe Beef too!

Shini Lola said...

Aghh! Your post make me miss Kobe so much now!

Amelie Yap said...

I wish to travel to japan one day! I will definitely check your post for more details itinary planning.

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