Kobe Walks: Chinatown, Waterfront

On Sept. 22, 2010, after I finished my morning visit to the Instant Ramen Museum, since I was already located west of Osaka, I decided to visit Kobe again (the cities of Kobe and Osaka are only 30 minutes or less by train away).

Kobe is one of my favorite cities in Japan because it has such a nice atmosphere. It is very compact (the model "compact city"?) yet does not feel overcrowded like Tokyo and the city is also blessed with many historical areas and buildings from the past due its interactions with the Western world during the modernization of Japan.

The Kansai region is unique in that the 3 major cities all have a distinct characteristic unlike the Kanto (Tokyo-Yokohama) metropolitan area where it is just uniform dense urban sprawl for as far as the eyes can see. Kobe is is quite clean and chic compared to the run-down and dirty Osaka, while Kyoto offers a glimpse of the idealized traditional "old Japan" of "samurai and ninja".

I have been to Kobe many times before, but I still like visiting Kobe whenever I am in the Kansai region because I like walking and wandering around to see what new and interesting thing I can bump into.

The view of the Kobe waterfront with the red coloured Kobe Port Tower in the background.


Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka (インスタントラーメン発明記念館)

On Sept. 22, 2010, I visited the Kansai region for a couple of days and one of the places that I always wanted to visit while I was an exchange student in Tokyo in 2005-06 but never had the chance to was the Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館) built by the company that created instant ramen, Nissin Foods.

The instant ramen was invented by Momofuku Ando in Ikeda City in Osaka where this museum is located.

This is the original Instant Ramen Museum and has no entrance fee. In 2011, probably to cash in on tourists coming to the Tokyo area, a bigger and non-free museum (500 yen entrance fee), the Cup Noodles Museum (カップヌードルミュージアム), opened in Yokohama.

Outside of the museum is a statue of the inventor of the MSG laced, totally unhealthy instant ramen. I do admit that I am an instant ramen fan though!

Actually my favorite brand is "出前一丁" and interestingly I didn't know what those 4 words meant (it makes no sense in Chinese) until I learned of the Japanese reading. "出前" means "delivery" and "一丁" means one city block or one order.


Kurashiki (倉敷), Takamatsu (高松) and Okayama (岡山)

The following pictures are from a day trip that a friend and I went on January 9, 2011 to Kurashiki (倉敷), Takamatsu (高松) and Okayama (岡山). The reason for this trip was because I had 2 times remaining on the 5 day non-consecutive local train pass (stops at every stop) called the Seishin 18 Kippu (青春18きっぷ) and I had to use it before the pass expired. Due to being located in such an isolated area such as Hiroshima, the closest interesting day trip via local train were to these 3 cities.

After around 2 hours on the train we arrived in Kurashiki where the main attraction is the preserved canal area that retains the atmosphere of "old Japan".


Kintai Bridge (錦帯橋) and Iwakuni Castle (岩国城)

Like all tourist attractions in the Hiroshima area, by now, I have been to almost all tourist attractions at least 2 times. Therefore this post is a combination of two separate visits during 2011, one on March 5, 2011 for a paid travel survey and one on Nov. 28, 2011 as part of a school trip with my laboratory classmates.

The pictures with the blue sky are from March 2011 and the pictures with the grey sky are from November 2011.

I had actually been to Iwakuni three times now. The first time was in May of 2010 for the American military base's open house.

The main attraction of Iwakuni is the Kintai Bridge (錦帯橋) and is know as one of "Japan's famous three bridges" (日本三名橋). The other bridges being Megane Bridge (眼鏡橋) in Nagasaki and Nihonbashi (日本橋) in Tokyo.