Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rope-way and Herb Garden



Here comes one of the toughest part of our Kobe tour...
After running around so much, Carlotta finally decided that she was ready to be transported.
In Kobe Kitano, literally the northern area of Kobe, there are mountains from which you can enjoy a wonderful sight of the city and take a stroll through the herb garden, where you can find some hidden beauties.
The price to pay to get there - and we aren't talking about the entrance fee - is a ten minute ride on the rope-way.
As you probably know, I don't quite like the heights...for a number of reasons.

Can you picture me on such a trap?

These are some pics I could take; if you mean they are not good it's because everything was shacking!!


If going up wasn't enough....



but the view is great


ain't it?

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

There is a strange tricky monster in my mind, which makes me seek things western if I am in Far East and makes me seek things eastern if I am on the western side of the world - but it is a matter of definition where east and west are, right?

Me, Carlotta and little Bastian made it to the Hyogo Museum and stared at a lot of art-works. When I say "stared" I really mean it, since the title of the exhibition was "Visual deception" it took some time before you could figure out what was real and what just illusion.

I was incredibly captured by a work of Patrick Hughes, displaying one of my favorite cities...

Arima Onsen and Akashi Bridge







Forget riding the jet-ski for a second!!!
We had - sorry, I meant we joyfully took part to the social program bus-tour organized for scientists' accompanying persons.
Do you like bus tours?
Do you like Japanese bus tours?

Anyway, we went to the Arima Onsen - nothing for me with both kids (too bad because I love to soak in hot water).
After riding the bus to Arima, we hit the road again to reach the Akashi Bridge observation point on Awaji Island.

The longest suspension bridge of the world just there in front of us.
I started being interested in such amazing constructions as bridges, dams, towers...escalators oops...maybe the last aren't so amazing but hey, useful!!!


Meriken Harbor Land





I like cities on the water, be it a river, a bay, the ocean or a lake. Especially harbors are a source of energy and of new ideas.
Japanese harbors though are a bit depressing, being strictly dedicated to the import of goods and to the industry.
Not far away from downtown Kobe though you can find an area that "celebrates" the harbor with a panoramic wheel, a sightseeing tower and a nautical museum hosting a large ship exhibition which Carlotta found very exciting, mostly because of other means of transportation she could pretend to ride....

Motomachi





Kobe is a rather international city: it has a large harbor, a number of ethnic restaurants, an area where a bunch of European homes were built - a little Shanghai without ever being as crowded as Shanghai.
The big earthquake in 1995 destroyed most of it, so I can't be sure of how much of the original flavor remains.

One of my favorite areas was the Motomachi area, bustling with life and packed with small shops and restaurants, mostly located under arcades or under the railroad (saving room is a national sport).
On top of that, add the small but busy Chinatown, a place where you might forget for a while you are in Japan and where the intense and delicious smell of dumplings and Peking duck rolls fill the air. How did it go?
Give me a gate and I'll turn it into a Chinatown?



Sorakuen






Ikuta Jinja - Kobe






Sunday, October 11, 2009

Japan

I know, I know...you thought I was lost in translation and I didn't want to go back to the States but I am back, even after the 12 hour long flight and the usual stop at Washington - late because of weather delay, missed the connecting flight, short night at the Marriot and flight the next day (I could get used to that procedure).
After recovering from some jet-leg, I realized I am well behind schedule with my posting and now I have to report about our trip.
Let's start from

Odawara

After flying from NY La Guardia to Washington Dulles and from there to Narita, we were taking the train to Odawara, which is not far away from Chigasaki.
We decided to spend a night in Odawara before getting to Kobe, because we wanted to meet Chizuko - see previous post and picture - and also because we wanted to have some sleep between the long flight and the Shinkansen ride.

We arrived on the very day the tropical storm Melor hit the coast in the Tokyo area. The wind was quite strong, local trains were canceled and so I couldn' t meet Chizuko, but we made it to Odawara castle, one of Japan's largest.


have a look at the sky...


Although local trains didn't run, the fast Shinkansen was able to take us to our final destination: Kobe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mattete!!!


We are packing again.

Tomorrow we will leave for Japan: Ralph has a meeting in Kobe and we are following him.
The weather doesn't seem to be too good, with some tropical storms and winds, but it will hopefully get better.

...of course I am happy, but the idea of SUCH a long flight is terrifying.

Guess I will have to relax and just post again when I am there, since it might really appear to you it's more a torture than a pleasure.
Japan is one of the countries I love most.
I love Japanese people, food, sights, colors, language, sounds - yeah, some might even be disgusting, but they are part of the fun.
Besides, I have tons of good memories related to Japan; lot of dear friends (I know, some might argue a friend is someone you see very often, but me...no, I don't have such friends).

The photo above was taken six years ago, in front of the Pacific Ocean, in Chigasaki.
eeeeee......

Last, but not least, I met Ralph in Japan.