It isn't all about festivals!
02.08.2016 - 08.08.2016 86 °F
I thought I would pull together some non-festival activities that we had in Japan because even with our breakneck pace we did have time to do a bit of wandering.
We took a short train ride to Geibikei gorge, where you can take a boat ride up a beautiful canyon.
The water is full of tame ducks and fish (sweetfish, or ayu) probably because you can buy little bags of food to toss in the water as you cruise.
photo by Robin Deits
And since turnabout is fair play, when you finish the cruise you can buy sweetfish grilled over a coal fire just outside the boat ride office, or watch folks fishing for them.
I also spotted a large golden carp in the river - an escapee?
On the way back, our boatsteerer broke into a beautiful Japanese song about the river.
She had an outstanding voice but in probably the first and only instance of what I would call rudeness that I observed in Japan, some passengers in the boat simply continued to chat over her singing.
Before heading out for the Osaka fireworks, we went over to Osaka castle. It's a beautifully restored park dominated by the main tower which is now a museum. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the museum, but the grounds and castle are great.
Kobe - Rokko furnicular and aerial tram
Just one more beauty spot. After the fireworks, we hopped the train over to Kobe and decided to go up in the mountains behind town. We caught a bus outside the train station that took us directly to the furnicular train station and climbed the hill. Great views, of course.
photo by Robin Deits
There is a remarkable art installation at the top of the mountain. From a distance it looks like some kind of navigational beacon.
photo Robin Deits
but it is in fact an environmental artwork. The outer framework is designed to capture frost in the winter and to resemble frost on trees. The plazas leading up to the central feature are used to harvest ice during the winter which is then stored below ground to facilitate cooling of the inner space, driven by convection from the central chimney. The entire building is built of beautiful cedar and there is a quiet space at the base of the tower to enjoy the beauty and the cool comfort.
There is a aerial tram from the top of the mountain down the other side into Arima Onsen, outside of Kobe. There is a lovely park just outside of the tramway exit that is worth a visit.
We wandered into town - it's clearly an enclave for wealthy folks; saw some amazing homes and some pricey hotels for sure. We did a bit of googling for a restaurant and found ourselves in a beautiful restaurant dining on this:
Kobe beef (of course!) (picture by Robin) and beautiful sashimi
After dinner, we wandered back to the train station and our usual serendipity intervened, as we found ourselves in a Bon Ordori, which I convered earlier in the 'festivals,festivals,festivals' entry.
I only want to add one thing to this, that to my eye and with my background in community planning, looked like a vision of heaven. This picture is of downton Arima Onsen; above, across the bridge, the Bon Odori is in full swing. Here is the rest of the downtown park, with a river to dip your feet in, plazas to meet with folks and hundreds of people just plain enjoying their city. Yes, it is a wealthy enclave, and yes there was a festival going on, but if only we could create more spaces in the US that combined such beauty with such community building!
I'm going to end this post here - getting kind of long. I guess I will do one more post on some serious relaxation and eating!