Welcome to Mt. Maya, one of the 3 Top Night Views in Japan

Remember in a previous post about Kobe, I mentioned that Kobe people explain directions using the mountains?  The Rokko Mountains border southern Kobe city to the north, and the view from there is considered very beautiful. All the time that I was previously lived in Kobe, I thought about going to Mt. Maya to see the night view. I kept putting it off, though, thinking it was too inconvenient/touristy/whatever. I finally went recently, and I am really glad that I did!

Mt. Maya (摩耶山) is a mountain in Kobe and is one of the major peaks of the Rokko Mountains. From the peak, you can see all over the Osaka Bay area, including Kobe, Osaka, and all of the area in between. The 10 million night time view is considered one of the top 3 in Japan, along with Hakodate and Nagasaki.

It is possible to climb Mt. Maya, and I have heard that it is a relatively easy hiking trail. I took mass transit considering I wanted to see the night time view.

To reach Mt. Maya, the most popular way is to take a bus from Sannomiya station (the main train station in Kobe), and then take the Maya Cable Car (a cliff railway) and transfer to Maya Rope Way (an aerial tramway).  The name of the railways are a little confusing for English speakers since a cable car is usually what I would call an aerial tramway, when in fact Maya Cable Car is a train.

Maya Cable Car
There is a nearly 30 degree incline on this train – it is a little scary, especially coming down!

The view from Maya Rope Way

At the top of Mt. Maya, there is a park where you can see the very beautiful view.  I got there before sundown so that I could secure a good location to see the view. There were some photography enthusiasts who set up about 2 hours before sundown! On the other hand, there are people who come after the sun has set, since it is quite cold at the top of the mountain.

The sunset was also quite beautiful.
(This picture shows much of western Kobe city)

And here is the night view.  Stunning!
(This picture shows much of the Osaka area. The body of water toward the right hand side is Osaka bay. Kansai airport, the major international airport in this region, can be seen in the top right area)

Taking these pictures was quite a challenge to me since I don’t own a tripod. Since the sun was continuing to set after I got there, I tried a lot of different settings. It was a great experience to learn more about how my DSLR works – and I think I got pretty good pictures, especially considering this was the first time I took night time pictures!

If you do come to Mt. Maya, please remember that it is a mountain, so it is significantly colder at the top than in Kobe city. I was wearing short sleeves that evening when I was in the city, but I definitely needed a coat when I took these pictures, especially considering I was there for a few hours.

Mt. Maya is planning to do major maintenance on the ropeway/cableways this winter. If you do decide to go, please take some time to check whether they are running. There are alternate ways to get to the top as well.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of Mt. Maya, home of one of the 3 most beautiful night views in Japan!

xoxo, K

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Welcome to Kitano Ijinkan-gai!

In Japanese history, there was a period of time when no foreigner could come into Japan and no Japanese person could leave the country, on penalty of death. This period, known as Sakoku, lasted more than 200 years from the mid-17th century to the mi-19th century.

In the 5 port cities that reopened after Sakoku ended, dedicated “foreigner foreigner living areas” were created. This is why you can see very old fashioned European style architecture in Hakodate, Niigata, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki.

This area of Kobe was purposely avoided during the bombing of Kobe during World War II, and the buildings remain as cultural properties protected by the government (and thus, becoming a tourist attraction in Kobe).  This area of Kobe has very steep hills. Be prepared to walk!

 

There are several of these buildings in the area, and most of them charge admission. Watch out though – some of these are still residential buildings.

The former Hilton Residence, also known as the former Panama Consulate

The French Mansion and Ben Allison’s house

The streets are narrow, not straight, and on an incline.  This is a very expensive residential area, but I don’t think I would want to live here!

There are also lots of small shops. This area reminds me of Jiyugaoka, in Tokyo.

The Starbucks in the area is also in a building with a similar feel. (The menu itself is exactly the same)

Within this area is Kitano Tenman Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane.  Sugawara no Michizane was a historical scholar, and shrines dedicated to him are common places to pray for school-related things (getting accepted to a certain university, better grades, etc)

 
And finally..
Here is a little giveaway to thank all of my readers during the past 2 years.
I’m giving away a limited edition Hello Kitty pen which is only available in Kobe!
(This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!)

Kobe-only Hello Kitty pen in Victorian era Western clothing 
(to depict westerners living in Kitano)

To enter, please comment on any thoughts you have on how I can improve my blog. This giveaway is open to my subscribers, and please be sure to leave your email address or your twitter name so I can contact you (you do not need to do this if we communicate regularly).  I will contact the winner on October 24th.

Hope you enjoyed this trip to Kitano Ijinkan-gai!

xoxo, K

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Welcome to Kobe Harborland

Since I have only a little time to live in Kobe, I’m trying to make the most of it by doing touristy stuff in this city as often as possible. Recently, I went to Kobe Harborland.  Kobe Harborland is about a 10 minute walk from Kobe station.

Kobe is a city in the Kansai area, around 35 km west of Osaka, or 500 km west of Tokyo. It is the 6th biggest city in Japan in terms of population. Together with Osaka and Kyoto, this area is often called 京阪神  (“Kei-han-shin”, taking one character each from Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe respectively).

Although Kobe is the capital of Hyogo prefecture, Kobe station is not the major “downtown” train station here. The major train station is Sannomiya station (三ノ宮 or 三宮, “Third Temple”, in this case meaning the third branch of Ikuta Shrine.  More on Ikuta Shrine in a separate post).

Kobe port tower (the red building) is a major landmark of Kobe

Kobe is a port city, and there are several malls located along the ocean near Kobe station. This is very similar to the Motomachi area of Yokohama.

Most of the directions are to malls in this area

On this day, my destination was Mosaic Mall

Closeup of the ferris wheel

Mosaic Mall is an open air mall which is really directly on the waterfront. There are 3 levels of stores, restaurants, etc. The highlight is definitely the beautiful view.


Kobe is a city surrounded by the ocean to the south and mountains to the north.  Because of this, many people in Kobe will point out directions by saying “Ocean side” (meaning south) and “Mountain side” (meaning north).  You will find signs pointing to “Ocean side” and “Mountain side” even in some maps or along the streets.  This also makes it super convenient to know which direction you are headed, because you can see the mountains from just about anywhere in Kobe!

From the mountain side picture above, I turned around in the same spot and took this ocean side picture.

I turned towards the right after taking the above picture and took this one:

Kobe Port is definitely a working port

Another picture of Kobe Port Tower.

(The mountains you see in the background are a VERY EXPENSIVE residential district.)

Mosaic Mall is made to resemble Mediterranean architecture, or at least, what Japanese people think is Mediterranean. Disney Sea also has some areas like this.

There are lots of different stores, from chain retail stores that I can find anywhere, to stores selling Kobe souvenirs, to kiosks selling one of a kind jewelry.

A Sanrio store

A Kobe souvenir store
Kobe is said to be one of the first cities in Japan to have western influence. You can see it in many areas, for example, Kobe is said to consume the most coffee per person and have the most bakeries per square kilometer in all of Japan.

If you come to Kobe, I highly recommend you buy some Kobe Pudding to take home!

(picture from Kobe Pudding’s website)
Hope you enjoyed this tour of Kobe Harborland, and I hope you drop by if you come to Kobe!
xoxo, K
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Random things!

Sakura season has come and gone, but here are some pictures that I took!

All of these were taken at a very random park!

I bought these beautiful goldstone earrings from MotoJewelry!
Head on over there if you haven’t yet!

And of course, what random blog post is complete without some pics of food?
I went out to this VERY expensive, very tiny sushi place in Kobe!
Kobe sushi is even better than anything in Tsukiji!
Fresh Anago!
This is my 3rd time going there, and they have some stuff that isn’t available anywhere else!
Much more affordable was this yummy oyster bento that I had recently!
Look at all the tasty goodies!
Wow, that was a random post!
Hope your week is going well!
xoxo, K
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Weekend in Kobe!

This past weekend was a three-day weekend, and I went out to dinner in Kobe!

The Kobe Festival was going on!
It is usually held in June, but it was canceled this year because of the Swine Flu…
You can see what a big deal Swine Flu was in Kobe!!!

LOTS of people!!!
This is one of the main streets in Kobe.
They closed it off from traffic for this festival!

The shops sold lots of different things!
This is a sake tasting place!

Kobe is a great place to shop, but for some reason, there are a lot of Lingerie places

In the summer, there are big ice blocks in the middle of the shopping street!
Look who I saw near one of them!!!

Don’t know who he is?
That’s Non-tan!!!
He’s a famous character in Japanese children’s books!
Here are a bunch of Non-tan books on display!!

Here’s the Lush store!
I always peek in and never buy anything!!


I also saw Yasuo Tanaka as well (he’s a famous Japanese politician).
He’s the guy with the necktie in the middle!
We have an election coming up… that’s why!
Oh and why is he in long sleeves even though it’s super hot???
Because it isn’t “proper” for Japanese politicians to wear short sleeves, apparently!

I was more excited to see Non-tan! LOL!

Annnndddd on to dinner!
Actually we ate everything so quickly that I only took a few pictures!

We went to a yummy Korean food place…
It was this hole-in-the-wall place, but soooo yummy!!!

Teokbokki


Garlic spears

We also had Samgyetang, Yukhoe, Namul, and Japchae
But I totally forgot to take pictures!!!

We finished it off with a trip to Starbucks!
Here’s my Lemon Green Tea Frappuccino!!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

xoxo, K

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