Cool breeze. ✅
Gorgeous ocean views. ✅
The city of Kobe is a beautiful jewel by the sea, bordered to the west by a lovely mountain range. The cable cars and air gondolas could be seen in the distance, transportating tourists and locals to the park atop the hills. Rows of homes and industrial businesses lined the JR track; people hurried through the roads and sidewalks to get to work. The cargo trains buzzed the passenger cars, hauling payload to Osaka and beyond. The Himeji castle advertisements caught me by surprise since my darling W had never mentioned it, and the place is a must see. 🤦♀️ (Another reason to go back and visit soon!) The idyllic, modern, quiet city is an introvert’s paradise. The food is excellent, the sake is amazing, and the cultural legacy goes beyond the Japanese lore of the region. It is an excellent tourist spot; a nice respite from city life and drunk rugby fans. 😅😁
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest suspension bridge spans in the world, was our destination. If we have time left afterwards, we’d visit the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institute in which the devastation of the 1995 natural disaster can be experienced. Because we had to reshuffle all of our activities due to the Monday holiday, we would most likely need to skip it. (In fact, we did put it on the next time list.) The one activity we couldn’t postpone, per W’s request, was a Kobe beef meal AFTER exploring the bridge visitor center and observation deck without an itinerary crunch. This was W’s crown jewel, his “Tokyo Disneyland”. I was fully on board with the plan even though heights and balance issues were starting to severely affect me.
Totally worth it!
W was happier than a little kid on a class excursion. Metallurgy. Architectural design. Geology. Cement and aggregate development. Wind tests. New and novel manufacturing processes. They were all showcased through interactive replica models. We played with cranes, bridge building materials, 3D movies, and a virtual reality tour that let you follow the rope walkers as they do inspections. We were in engineering heaven. From the observation deck, we saw actual work crews doing maintenance via the underbridge walkways. The smell of salt and sea were refreshing, even though the threat of corrosion and fatigue they presented made me uneasy to be so high up over the gorgeous blue water.
Once W was satisfied, we hopped the train to the city center to find a spot to eat. Yelp recommended La Shomon for some Kobe and Yamsaki beef shabu shabu. The server saved my butt by cooking the meal for us since my husband was adamant he wasn’t going to “BBQ his own food ever at a restaurant”, which he ridiculously enforced throughout the trip. Life had the last laugh cause he LOVED the experience. The smell of charcoal and perfectly prepared marbled meat melted his resolve long enough to have one of the best meals while in Japan. The server handed us a guestbook to leave our comments about the experience. They five notebooks bound together were full of wonderful drawings and thoughts from around the world. Definitely a must if and when you are in the area!
The rest of the day was spent back at the home base, walking the grounds of the Osaka Castle. While I rested and finished reading the sole e-book I had managed to sneak into my vacation, W went up the eight flights of Edo period history and artifacts before reaching the observation deck to take pictures of the city. The weather was perfect, the temperature not too sweltering, and the breeze hit the plaza just right. For a Wednesday, we were in the company of lots of students and tourists. The effects of the Rugby World Cup were ever present but by now we had gotten used to the crowds and accents. Overall, this had been the best day of our journey, which helped us refocus the energy on enjoying the moment, not reinforcing the drama and stress of recent misfortunes.
Around 7pm, I retired to the spa to get a two hour massage leaving W to his own devices. The nearby Osaka Station Lucua became his own personal wonderland, full of treasures he shared with me later in the night. A night cap and Japanese style Mexican meal later, we were back in the room packing for the midday departure to Yokohama. The trip was coming to an end soon and if we could keep the high, the threat of this becoming Barcelona 2.0 would die a silent death. It had been 12 years since the last time we had roamed Minato Mirai together.
Hopefully, nostalgia will merrily get us to the finish line.