Oh boy! We are in our first day in Kobe and it is extremely wet and pouring. Our socks were making squishy noises by the time we got home. Let’s see…what have we been up to?
In Tokyo we were getting lost or at least showing up to places when they weren’t open. We made it to the Samurai museum which was probably a tourist trap but our unexpected tour guide was enjoyable. The Edo museum was very nice and had large building replicas of what Tokyo used to be like. It was a very neat place and wouldn’t mind going again. There were also a lot of kids on field trips, just running around and excitedly trying everything. Miraikan on Odaiba is also a good place to check out and we made it for the robot demonstration. The advertisement museum was unexpectedly entertaining and completely free. We also went to Akihabara a couple of times to play in the arcade, look for resin models, and waste money on capsule toys. Yes, we are such basement-dwelling weirdos!
We had some really good food to finish up Tokyo. We had ramen, and the noodles had a great texture. The egg was just perfect, in between solid and gooey. We stepped out of the shop with some chilly wind hitting our faces and I can still taste the egg yolk in my mouth. We also stepped into this chain tonkatsu place under one of the stations and had a pair set. It was unexpectedly classy for fried food! It had ebi fry, tonkatsu, a chicken with herb fry, and a hamburger cheese fry. Nothing was heavy, just flakey fried goodness. It came with miso soup and I was surprised to find little clams on the bottom. I was very impressed! We also had our first crepe and it was tasty as we got to the bottom where it got cakey-er after every bite.
Anyways back to Kobe! Yesterday we rode the shinkansen, which is the bullet train that goes across the country towards Kobe. It was so comfortable! You get this big comfy seat that can almost adjust so that you can sleep nicely, a lot of leg room and a foot rest, and not one, but THREE PLACES to put your beverage. It travels on a slower mode while it’s still in the city but once it goes into full bullet train mode, we both passed out! It feels like that point on the plane where you are lifting off and you feel a bit drowsy from it. Shinkansen is so much better than riding on an airplane and I hope that California eventually builds the state bullet train (I’m not holding my breath though :/).
Kobe is definitely more relaxed than Tokyo. Not 5 minutes out of the train station and two people were trying to help us with directions. There’s more laughter on the street and a teeny bit more color. It’s warmer, like Taipei weather, except it poured A LOT and we both ended up buying umbrellas. Today we ate a nice Kobe beef lunch with great service from our chef, checked out some of the European houses in the area, took a very rainy and slippery hike through the hills, took a tram up the mountains, walked the malls, and had udon for dinner. So far so good! Next up is Osaka!
When I visited Japan as a study abroad student a decade ago, I stayed in the Kansai area, the region of Japan we’ve arrived as of yesterday evening. So, this trip is pretty nostalgic for me. A lot of my favorite parts of Japan belong out here.
Now that we’re out of a Hostel and into a proper hotel again, we have Japanese TV. Again, I can’t emphasize how much I enjoy watching Japanese TV. Even the commercials are hilarious! Me and Libby’s favorite currently is this one about a “ramen detective”.
I LOVE the Edo Museum, Libby mentioned above. The exhibits are really good, many of them are life sized and really engage you both with written details but also great visual details and design. There’s a lot to cover but it’s done without being overwhelming.
Libby mentioned that Samurai Museum. It was definitely not worth the money on it’s own, a clear tourist trap, but the guide was hilarious. For some reason he kept hovering around us trying to explain, in simple terms, what the Samurai did. Once he found out that I knew a few things about Japanese history, though, he /really/ got into it. Libby was just giggling as she watched him smile and laugh and delight in constantly pressing my knowledge with each new item he explained. It was a little weird but simultaneously funny, so we humored it. I also correctly guessed that he was from Osaka. I realized that I could identify his slight pronunciation accent (he was otherwise speaking “normal” Japanese) from time spent in Osaka. And his darker skin.
Oh! I’m surprised Libby didn’t mention it. When we first arrived in Kobe last night, we were both tired and realized we weren’t ready to head back out into downtown to look for food. So… to our great shame, we ordered in to our room. PIZZA HUT! It gets more funny, because I didn’t feel comfortable ordering the pizza over the phone myself (actually, I still have trouble hearing over the phone), so I went to the front desk with the pizza hut menu in hand, and asked the front desk to order the pizza for us lol. We both kind laugh about how the pizza guy, upon me opening the door to receive the pizza and seeing two Americans staring back hungrily, must have thought, “Oh. Well, that’s not surprising.”
It was okay pizza.
The best part of our trip is from here on out. We’ve got downtown Osaka, and after that, my favorite place of all Japan: Kyoto. Our next entry should be exciting!
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