This school year has been a pretty splendid one as far as traveling is concerned as we ventured to Guam and the Philippines for holiday during winter break and this past week or so, during Chinese New Year, we took our first, but certainly not last, foray into Japan.
We kept a base out of Osaka and used the incredibly efficient Japan Rail to get from one place to another…so convenient. Anyways, we left on January 31, Chinese New Year Day I suppose you’d call it and the pollution was unbelievably high, whether due to the thousands of fireworks going off or the factories getting in a last push before break, I don’t know, but someone how we managed to make it out of Pudong, though we did sit on the tarmac for about an hour and a half. We had a layover in Dalian (northern China) and just barely made our connecting flight to Osaka.
Our first night in Osaka, our hostel had a little party and we tried some homemade Japanese soup. I think was a simple Japanese version of chicken noodle, but with some tofu and a few other things thrown in, but it was delightful, especially when paired with the $2 Asahi tall boys from our hostel’s vending machine. We also were able to meet a few locals at the party, one of whom we met up with later who took us to a local sushi place for a nice authentic Japanese style sit down (more on that in a later post).
Anyways, we woke up the next morning and after a confusing 30 minutes on the train platform, we managed to hop a ride to Kobe. Kobe feels considerably smaller than the 1.5 million people that Wikipedia says live there, but it was quite beautiful. We walked over to another train station and beyond that, we were in the foothills of the mountains with lots of trails at our disposal. I’d read there was a water fall around so we hiked over the mountainside for an hour or so before really setting out to find the waterfall. When we did find it, it wasn’t as large as we had hoped, but it was quiet and peaceful and beautiful and most of all, nice to get away from the noise and pollution of Shanghai!
At this point we were pretty hungry so we set out to find some sushi and we found a nice little place that wasn’t overly crowded, but still had a fair amount of locals. We had some pretty delicious sushi and continued to just walk and explore Kobe on foot. On an interesting note, it was curious to see that in Kobe, as well as other places in Japan, Tully’s Coffee was alive and well!
Anyways, Dear Readers, enjoy and look out for more posts on Japan coming soon.