Today is the first day we activated our 7-day JR Pass. Since this pass does not come cheap, we really need to make sure we get a good return on it. So, our schedule for Day 7 was going to Himeji Castle and Kobe.
Since we have activated our JR Pass, we aimed to ride mainly on JR covered transportation modes. So instead of riding subway which is closest to our AirBnb, we walked to JR Namba and thankfully it was not that far especially with the underground shopping streets leading to the station. It also helps with staying warm walking underground than on the street during the cold windy morning or nights! Oh I also have to mention one of the ladies room near Namba Station even has a little space for powder area with chair, how thoughtful right??? I mean ladies would really appreciate this, you can do a bit of touch up before or after work in a comfortable space without worrying your stuffs got wet from the sink.
Himeji Station is quite big with a shopping mall attach to it. I saw some nice clothes here and considered buying them, but at the end I regrettably did not 🙁 Because the castle is visible on exiting the station, we could just follow that road leading to it without the need of google map. Along the street, you will see many cute Himeji mascot displays. The roads are wide and clean, also not too many cars – I totally love this place. I guess if you follow my Japan trip posts, by now you can deduce I like smaller and less busy towns than the opposite 🙂 I find its calm and peacefulness are what make them so attractive and perfect to wind down from your hectic working days.
Before came here, we already agreed not going inside the castle and would instead walk around the park outside of it. And we were content doing just so. In saying that, the castle is really something, it is grand and looks amazing. Hubby said he likes Osaka Castle better as part of it was covered in gold and makes it looks grander. Himeji Castle, which is one of national treasures and world heritage sites, is elegant in its white appearance. Apparently this castle has survived wars, earthquakes, and fires – it was never destroyed like many other castles in Japan.
Upon taking pictures of the Himeji Castle, we headed back to the station to catch another train to Kobe. We should have taken a shinkansen to Shin Kobe, but instead we had taken another train to Kobe Station. Only then we realized it would take another 30 minutes of walk to get to the restaurant we were heading for. Another mistake we made was we did not reserve a table ahead of coming so were told it was already fully booked for lunch. We then went to another restaurant, and thankfully still be able to get in.
After the delicious Kobe beef lunch (っ˘ڡ˘ς) we made our way to Shin Kobe Ropeway. Do not forget to claim the Kansai One discount for the cable car ride should you have the card, costs us ¥2,240 for round trip. The ten minutes long ride was well worth the price, the aerial view from above was wonderful. Half way through, we’d be able to see Nunobiki Waterfall, albeit not from up close but still breathtaking.
But, the highlight was the garden on the top platform. On the View Rest House with heavy theme of European village, you can find souvenir shop, fragrance museum, a little cafe and a tent with art workshop. As you walked pass the clock tower, there the rose garden and a concert hall at the back which boasted magnificent view. We did not walk down to the Glasshouse, but reading on reviews it seems like a really pretty place. Also, in here you can get stunning view of the Kobe city with its port and ocean background. I imagine it would be even more magical at night time with all the lights up. The cable car fee is actually cheaper at night, so if you happen to be in Kobe during night time you might want to give this place a try 🙂
Coming back down from the ropeway, we were on our way back to Shin Osaka. Because we only tried to reserve seats on the last minute, the only available seats was two hours away. So, bear that in mind to reserve seats earlier to avoid such situation especially during peak hours travel or high season.
Back in Osaka, we went right back to Dotonbori again for dinner, which we had planned for ramen night. And that was all for Day 7.
What we ate on Day 7
We bought some fried fish cakes at Himeji, they were yummy but unfortunately were cold unlike ones we bought outside of Ginkakuji Temple.
Canned milk tea that we got from vending machines near Kobe station.
And, the highlight lunch we had been waiting for: Kobe beef! Since we could not get a table at Steak Aoyama, we ended up going to Steakland Kobe. We both had the Special Kobe beef steak set each, that includes special soup, grilled vegetables, salad, bread/rice, and tea/coffee/juice. The cook showed everyone on the table the piece of meat with certificate before started slicing and cooked. And yes, the meat was so tender and delicious – absolutely worth the price (total: ¥10,960). Tips: come here during lunch time for a more economical meal 🙂
And for dinner, we ended up at Kyushu Ramen Kio. This small ramen bar was almost full when we arrived together with a big group of international students. Thankfully they managed to get us a table right away, yay. These were what we ordered (I really can’t recall the exact name now):
As for dessert, we decided to queue for the melon pan at Dotonbori, the one that always had a super long queue. Since tonight is our last night in Osaka, we thought we really should give this a try. It was good! Crispy pastry and rich ice cream, so fresh and delicious! No wonder this little van always busy.