Saturday, 28 January 2012

An afternoon in Kobe

After our visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, we got the Shinkansen to Shin Kobe Station, and then got the train to Sannomiya Station in downtown Kobe.

There were two main things we really wanted to do during our brief visit:
1.  Go and see Tetsujin 28, an 18m tall, fifty tonne replica of the famous manga and anime robot.  Because robots are cool, especially giant robots.
2.  Try Kobe beef.  Because it’s not every day you get the opportunity.

We had a quick look in Namco Land.  Disappointingly the arcade featured mostly prize redemption machines and modern titles such as Tekken 5, Mario Kart GP and Border Break and was devoid of any classic Namco cabinets and retro delights.

We started walking through the shopping arcades which shadow the train tracks between Sannomiya and Motomachi stations, heading towards Wakamatsu Park where Tetsujin 28 is located.

During our journey we came across this sad sight:

Two neglected, sorry looking New Astro City’s sitting outside an arcade.  I had a quick look inside the arcade only to find UFO catchers and photo booth machines.  One wonders what this arcade used to be like a decade or so ago.

After walking for at least an hour, we realised we were probably only around a third of the way there.  And it began to rain.  With time ticking on we managed to find a train station and took the JR line to Shin Nagata station, the station closest to Wakamatsu Park.  After a short journey we were there!

The Tetsujin robot monument is a symbol of Kobe’s revival following the catastrophic earthquake in 1995, and is a reminder of the continuing spirit and effort of Kobe citizens in rebuilding their city.  Wakamatsu Park area was hardest hit by the earthquake.  Tetsujin dwarfs the neighbouring Daimaru department store as it strides across a plaza, his metal fists striking a punch.

The quest to try some Kobe beef proved somewhat difficult.  I’m not sure why, but I kind of imagined it being readily available on skewers in the shopping arcades, cooked over a BBQ.  Sadly we could only see it advertised in restaurants costing more than we had anticipated.  We asked inside a butcher’s where we could try some, and they recommended we go back to the Sannomiya Station area as there were lots of Kobe beef restaurants around there.  We were planning on travelling back to Tokyo that evening so it seemed like a good idea.  After looking around, we eventually bit the bullet and went into one of the restaurants.  We were in for a treat.  Chefs prepared the food on grills in front of us.  We opted for one normal steak and one Kobe beef steak, the chef sliced it into small pieces so we could easily share it.  The Kobe beef was delicious, having lovely texture and a superb, distinctly different taste.  It came to just over 10,000 Yen, expensive but well worth it as we had a lovely meal and I would have always regretted not trying it.

We then headed back to Shin Kobe Station and took the Shinkansen back to Sunshine City.  With our bellies full and the adventures of the last few days taking their toll, I think I slept the whole journey.

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