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Published: August 21st 2012
Picture taken by a friendly Korean tourist.
My first full day in Japan was a Tuesday, which meant that my friend Lentle had to go to university, and so I had to face this new country all by myself. To not make things too complicated on my first day, I decided to stay in Kobe and explore around the city centre a bit.
The day started out not so well. I had wanted to shave my legs before going out (Japanese warm weather required skirts) but my electric razor just went 'prtl prtl prtl'
. It was totally unusable! I was afraid that my razor had died during the trip, but looking back now I think it's because voltage in Japan is 110V versus 230V in Belgium ... but I didn't know that at the time.
Even though I knew it was rainy season in Japan, I didn't take an umbrella when I went out. This was obviously a mistake, because it was raining super hard when I left the dorm. I went to the conbini and bought a cheap ¥500 umbrella.
I took the Rokko Liner to get off Rokko Island. Another not so fun discovery, the Rokko Liner monorail was the only way for
me to get on and off the island, and a one-way ticket costed ¥240(ca. €2.40) so it would be kind of expensive to make multiple trips to and from the island per day. This pretty much meant that whenever I decided to return to the island at the end of the day, it would be final. This was a bit annoying, because I had no way of contacting Lentle, and I couldn't just go back to the dorm to meet her there and then go back to Kobe centre with her because that would cost too much.
The Rokko Liner took me to Sumiyoshi and from there I took a train to Sannomiya. Taking the train in Japan was surprisingly easy! Most ticket machines had station names written in romaji and even if you didn't know which station you needed, you could just buy the cheapest ticket and then put it in a so-called 'fare adjustment machine' when you reached your destination. Super handy!
Sannomiya is the de facto city centre of Kobe, so I explored that neighbourhood for the day.
Not far from Sannomiya station is Ikuta Shrine. It's not a very big or well-known shrine, but
I also saw this circle thingy at Ikuta Shrine. Apparently you need to walk through it
three times in a specific order, which I did. Don't know what it's for though ...
I decided to visit it anyway. It was unfortunate that it was raining so hard, but the shrine was still nice. It was very calm, not overly touristic at all, which I liked.
My next destination was another shrine called Minatogawa, however I got a bit lost on my way there. In Japanese cities there are a lot of information maps at crossings, but Minatogawa wasn't on the little map I found and I misjudged the direction. I thought it was located more towards the sea, so I kinda walked out of the city centre without finding the shrine. I decided to buy lunch in a conbini because it's cheap, but because of the rain I couldn't find a place to sit and eat ... I ended up sitting somewhere under a bridge which wasn't a very interesting place, and there were some homeless people around as well. Not very picturesque I'm afraid ...
I decided that it would probably be better to return towards the mountains and the city centre. Once there I found a map that had directions to Minatogawa shrine and so I managed to find it after all! First though I stopped at another
Pachinko is 'the best beauty liquor' that 'moistens dryness of the heart'.
conbini (Lawson) to buy a razor blade and some shaving gel so I could at least shave my legs ... I couldn't find shaving gel for women so had to buy the one for men, but oh well ...
At Minatogawa shrine I found a nice place to sit and rest under an overhang. Too bad I didn't find the shrine earlier, because it would have been a much nicer place to eat my lunch ...
Luckily the rain stopped after a while and I looked around the shrine some more.
After Minatogawa Shrine I walked on and looked for a large park. According to Google Maps two smaller shrines should be located at that park, however I only managed to find Minatogawa park which was quite small and uneventful. Apparently the larger park was located further on, but I didn't know that at the time so I decided to quit looking for it. I ended up walking around in a part of the city that contained quite a lot of gambling parlors ...
I decided to call it a day and found Kobe station so I could return to Rokko Island, meet up with Lentle and
Me eating dinner in a very small Japanese restaurant
go out to eat dinner together. I somehow managed to lose my umbrella somewhere along the way. Anyway, we found a place to eat at Rokko Island. It was a small and very calm place, but the food was good and the price was good as well, ha ha. I ate udon noodles with tempura. I also learned that Japanese restaurants offer free water or free tea (depends on the restaurant) with every meal, so I didn't have to spend money on drinks. I really liked that!
After dinner we returned to the dorm, but first we stopped by the conbini to buy something to drink and a cookie as dessert. I went to bed around midnight.
Next up I went to Japan's cultural capital, Kyoto, together with Lentle. More about that in another entry ...
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