Born On A Train

23 02 2009

Kobe Fountain, Kobe, 2/21/2009

Finally, a post with some substance. This weekend I went on a long (so long) daytrip to Kobe. I left around eight and got back close to ten, so the day was packed. Kobe is an interesting contrast to a traditional city like Kyoto. Long a major port in Japan, Kobe very early on developed into one of the more international cities in Japan, and features one of the larger populations of non-Japanese outside of cities like Yokohama. Additionally, a number of Europeans settled in the area, and some of their houses have been preserved.

Foreigner House, Kobe, 2/21/2009

It's hard to see in this picture, but these houses really stand out from their surroundings, and a number have been made into official historic landmarks. Some are still occupied by foreigners, but most are now owned by Japanese.

It's hard to see in this picture, but these houses really stand out from their surroundings, and a number have been made into official historic landmarks. Some are still occupied by foreigners, but most are now owned by Japanese.

That sort of international flavor has spread throughout Kobe; it has a sizeable Chinatown (whose Chinese food I can vouch for) and a number of Western-style buildings.

Column building, Kobe, 2/21/2009

My first goal when I got into the city was to see the Nurobiki Falls, supposedly one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Japan. Along the way I passed through the Shin-Kobe station and so a rather… odd display on the overhead monitors.

Shin-Kobe monitor, Kobe, 2/21/2009

It seems unusual and slightly gauche to be so specific as to indicate the reason for delay is that they’re scraping some guy off the front of the train. Perhaps worst of all (or best, depending if you were in a hurry) was that this was apparently only going to delay the train ten to thirty minutes. Efficiency!

Anyway, in my zeal to see the falls I managed to completely bypass them at first and climb to the top of one of the mountains surrounding Kobe. I made excellent time up the mountain and was feeling pretty good until I saw some women in at least their sixties coming down from the peak, breathing regularly.

Mountain View 1, Kobe, 2/21/2009

Unfortunately even the top was thickly forested, so I had a difficult time getting some good views of the city. At the highest I went I was at least a hundred feet or so above the blue skyscraper to the left.

Unfortunately even the top was thickly forested, so I had a difficult time getting some good views of the city. At the highest I went I was at least a hundred feet or so above the blue skyscraper to the left.

Speaking of the skyscraper, here's a better view. I think the color actually makes it look pretty attractive.

Speaking of the skyscraper, here's a better view. I think the color actually makes it look pretty attractive.

Paths extended even further into the mountains, but I finally saw a sign pointing in the correct direction towards the falls. I crossed several bridges…

Bridge 1, Kobe, 2/21/2009Bridge 2, Kobe, 2/21/2009

… and finally reached a wide plateau area that gave an excellent view of the city.

Kobe wide view 1, Kobe, 2/21/2009Kobe wide view 2, Kobe, 2/21/2009

Finally, about an hour after I entered the mountains, I circled around and found the falls about a hundred feet to the right of where I had originally taken a left. Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t worth all the wait. It’s pretty nice (you know, if you’re into waterfalls, or something) but it wasn’t exactly Niagra Falls.

Nurobiki Falls, Kobe, 2/21/2009

Eeeh, it's alright.

Eh, it's alright.

From there I ventured back into the city and wandered around the Chinatown for awhile (and sort of forgot to take pictures; just imagine an average Chinatown and you’ve probably got it). I also checked out some more of the foreign influenced buildings in the area, such as this French influenced structure that like most buildings in Japan has been repeatedly burned down and restored. Looks pretty good, though.

Frenchy building, Kobe, 2/21/2009

And entering the “why the hell did this make the transition to Asia?” file along with Denny’s is this:

Why are there Wendy'ses (I can't frigging pluralize it) in Japan? And is just me, or could you take out the yen sign in the lower right and you wouldn't be able to tell this was in Japan?

Why are there Wendy'ses (I can't frigging pluralize it) in Japan? And is just me, or could you take out the yen sign in the lower right and you wouldn't be able to tell this was in Japan?

Eventually I wandered down to the port and took some photos of the ocean (or more accurately, Osaka Bay).

Bay view, Kobe, 2/21/2009

Don't stare directly into this picture or you could burn your eyes out.

Don't stare directly into this picture or you could burn your eyes out.

While walking around I spotted a guy fishing in the bay, who also happened to have a luxury BMW directly behind him.

While walking around I spotted a guy fishing in the bay, who also happened to have a luxury BMW directly behind him.

Next week is Spring Break, and I’m currently planning on traveling around both the southern and northern coasts of Honshu. Hopefully I should be able to get some nice pictures, but I’m unsure of the status of internet out there, so I may be at best sporadically updating for a couple of weeks. I imagine you’re getting used to that, though. I’ll try and throw up a filler post at some point; maybe the convenience store one, or some more comic strips that I suspect no one but me finds funny.

Music I’m Listening to Now: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero”.

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