We are back, and I can’t believe how much we saw. It will take awhile to blog about everything, so we have decided that daily I will write about the history of the places we saw etc. while Adam will write up Adamisms of the opinions he had of Japan, which I am sure will be entertaining since he spent 3/4 of his time taking pictures of cars.
Upon our arrival into Kansai International, we exchanged our 700,000 Won that we aloted for the trip into Yen and were sad to see it reducd to a measely 45,000 Yen. So, this became our budget. We went to the information center and grabbed a ton of maps and set off to find the train station to Shinshabashi, Osaka. The train ride was rather uneventful, Adam fell asleep and I stared at an older gentleman fanning himself in the next seat. The underground subway dumped us off in this HUGE shopping area called Namba Station. It is where 4 subway lines intersect. A nice security man showed us how to get to our hotel, the Hotel Villa Fontaine. The hotel was beautiful, very tiny, but with a great Japanese toilet. We checked into our room and walked the area for a few hours before grabbing dinner and heading to bed.
Thursday we woke up and hit the train station around 9 am. We headed to Kobe. In Chinese characters, the word Kobe is translated as “god’s door.” Kobe is located 20 miles east of Osaka and is squeezed between the mountains and Osaka Bay. In 1995 Kobe was hit by a giganitic earthquake that killed over 6,000 people. Much of the city was destroyed by a fire as a result of the earthquake.
From thee outside, Kobe appeared very modern and rebuilt. The temples and history were buried within the high rise buildings and modern shopping areas. This city did not seem as populated as Osaka.
In Kobe, we arrived at the Sannomiya-eki station and walked west toward Nankinkachi which is Kobe’s small China Town. Here we had lunch and tried some of the local cuisine. One was a round bread puff about the size of an orange. The bread was fairly thick and had some type of beef inside (yes I had a few bites).
Then we walked south towards the water and saw the Kobe Tower, The Maritime Museum, and the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial. They also had a huge area called Harbor Land which was a small amusement park, but we decided to move on in search of some temples.
Northwest of Harbor Land was the Minatogawa Shrine. One of the most renowned shrines in Kobe, it also is known as Nanko san (a honorific title of Kusunoki Masashige) among locals. The information packet from the temple says, “The Minatogawa Jinja was founded in 1872 (the 5th year of Meiji) upon the order of Emperor Meiji, dedicating to the spirit of Kusunoki Masashige, who was the most respected warlord during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (1336-1393) for his loyalty to the emperor. Overthrowing the Kamakura Shogunate, Emperor Go-daigo, who tried to establish peace in the country. Kusunoki Masashige was a loyal vassal to the Emperor and greatly contributed to the accomplishment of the Kenmu Restoration, by which Emperor Go-daigo and Kisinoki Masashige fought a fierce battle against him. He was, however, defeated at the field of Minatogawa, he killed himself out of his profound loyalty to Emperor Go-daigo. His spirit of loyalty was highly appreciated by people. There are still many who pay a visit to his graveyard in the precinct of the Minatogawa Jinja even 667 years agter his death.
Then we headed Northeast and found the Kanteibyo Chinese Temple. This temple was very different from the Japanese ones. The major difference was the color. All of the Japanese Temples tend to be white with either orange or dark wood and gold plating for decorations. This temple was decked out with reds, blues and yellows. The Kanteibyo (Guandimiao in Mandarin) is a Chinese-style shrine dedicated to Kanu, a 3rd century Chinese warrior. Chinese residents often visit the shrine to pay for success in business.
Further East was the Sorakuen Japanese Garden. I was so excited to see this garden, most of the gardens in Japan seem to be rock gardens and just very green due to the season. I was hoping this one would be in bloom. When we arrived however, the sign read, Closed on Thursday’s. Who would have thunk it! The garden used to be a part of the residence of Kodera Kenkichi, a former mayor of Kobe, but was opened to the public in 1941.
Then we stumbled upon a random Shinto Shrine on the corner.
Back to the train station to head to Kyoto. Kyoto was a 90 minute ride on the train…Ill write about Kyoto later.
Our Kobe Album – Be sure to check out the Album (either click on the words or the picture below), I thought this may be easier than a slide show (we have so many pictures!)
|Japan – Osaka/Kobe|