Flight: Cathay Pacific to Osaka, transit at Hong Kong
Time difference: +1 hour
Visited April 2011
Having been to Japan twice via a packaged tour, my Boy and I decided one day that we would visit Japan during Spring to catch the sakuras blooming. Hence, this more or less began the official start of me being the ‘Itinerary Researcher’ for most of our trips together.
As luck would have it, Japan had a triple whammy misfortune when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck. However, having had planned the trip way in advance, together with the agreement of our travel partners, we decided to still go ahead with our trip, albeit changing our arrival destination from Tokyo to Osaka, hoping that the effects will be less felt there.
Day 1: Kobe
Upon arriving at Kansai International Airport, we made our way to the train station, where we activated our 7-Day Japan Rail Pass. Being Japan, it was easy to get around the airport, as the signs were clear.During most of our 7-Day trip, Toyoko Inn was our choice accommodation. For those on a budget, I would highly recommend Toyoko Inn, because it has many chains all around Japan. Although the rooms can be pretty small, it is after all Japan. Plus, for every 10 days, you’ll get the next night free! Membership can be obtained on the spot with a photo ID card.
Kobe was our first stop of day 1, as we made our way to the harbour and the earthquake memorial.After which, we went on to look for our favourite cheesecake at Kobe Kannon Shop. A Danish delicacy, it is not like your usual cheesecake, because this is savoury in taste. My Boy, who loves his cheese, cannot get enough of it. Highly recommended!Tucked in a corner at Kobe Harbourland, it is located on the ground level at the Mosaic Watch Tower block, right beside the entrance to the underground/sheltered car park.
After accomplishing our task of eating the cheesecake, we made our way up to Mount Rokko.
Thanks to our JR pass, we hopped onto the metro from Sannomiya Station to Rokko Station, followed by Bus 16 to the base station of the Rokko Cable Car. The round trip on the Rokko Cable Car is ¥1,000. If you would like a combination of the Rokko Sanjyo Bus, it is ¥1,300. I would highly recommend taking the combination of the return cable car trip and the bus, because we forgot to, and had to pay various amounts from one stop to another. This in my opinion was pretty troublesome.
Mount Rokko is the highest peak in the Rokko mountain range, thus providing lovely panoramic views of the city. But as luck would have it, when we went up there, it was too hazy for any lovely pictures. It is however one of Japan’s Top 3 Million-dollar Nightscape view. Do try and visit it from sunset onwards to enjoy the spectacular view. Our itinerary didn’t allow us for such an opportunity so it was a pity.
Instead, we gave up on any potential snaps, and went on to visit Garden Terrace and The Rokko-Shidare Observatory, the latter being the main reason why I chose to visit Mount Rokko in the first place. Its architecture quirky and interesting, I likened it to a little bee-hive. Returning back to town, we began exploring Nankinmachi, Kobe Chinatown, as we tried to locate an almond jelly dessert shop we last visited in 2009 during our packaged tour. However, Chinatown was much larger than we imagined, as we were unable to achieve our mission, but instead, settled for dinner back in Osaka.