Visits to Kobe

On our third day in Kyoto we actually went to Kobe instead. We had an agreement with a friend to visit Kobe university supercomputer center, and also to see around while there and to visit another Volks store.

View from Shin Kobe station
We have arrived to the Shin-Kobe station initially, and this is the view out of the station window.

Shin Kobe station
Shin-Kobe station inside.

The station is actually pretty small and only serves shinkansen trains, regular trains could be accesssed only by subway at a different station.

Kobe design university ad
Unusual art panels in underground hallways.

Prince of tenniss nails
Anime merchandise: artificial nails with "Prince of Tennis" club emblem.

Shopping mall
Suspended Christmas tree in the shopping center around Volks store.

Flower Road

Flower Road

Flower Road
Flower street, one of the main Kobe streets.

Manhole

Manhole
Manholes with pictures, pretty frequent in Japan it seems.

Cafe Canon
Seeing it from afar, I thought this was some sort of a camera shop, but turned out to be a coffee house ;)

Cafe Canon
Unfortunately we did not try the cuisine.

Highway in Kobe

Highway in Kobe
Walking towards the sea, we crossed under highway (atop of a street).

Then we walked towards the port and took pictures along the way:

Port road

Kobe port

Kobe port

Kobe port

Kobe port

Kobe port

Kobe port

At the port station we took a Kobe Portliner to the AICS "K Computer Mae" (in front of K Computer) station.

Kobe portliner

Portliner is a totally automated train.

Kobe portliner

Kobe portliner

Kobe

Kobe portliner

Inside of the AICS center

Solar panel statistics
At the roof of the supercomputer building there is a solar panel installed, and this is the statistics about how much electricity it has generated (of course nowhere near enough to actually run a supercomputer).

K Computer
This is the K Computer itself.

Unfortunately there's no way for visitors to get on the actual computer floor, so you only get to see it through a thick window. Only special Fujitsu staff is permitted inside.

Kobe

Women-only car
Women-only train car at Kobe.

Robot and Takoyaki
We also visited statue of Gigantor.

Kobe robot

From Gigantor we headed to Kobe port again trying to catch a Kobe cruise at around sunset time.

Port Tower

Kobe pier

Port tower
Kobe port tower.

Kobe port

At first it looked like we did not make it as the last cruise for the day was fully booked, but in the end they let us onboard on the condition of standing only.

Ship

Fake steering wheel
Fake helm to tame the passengers, I guess ;)

Kobe port

Bridge

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

It was getting darker by the second.

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

We returned back when it was already completely dark outside.

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Kobe cruise

Next item on the list was to try some Kobe beef. We found a restaurant right at the port that served just that, but the prices were quite high.

Starter

I planned to order steaks for both of us, but Ksusha was concerned that she won't like it so we decided to get a steak and some shabu-shabu, but the place only served shabu-shabu for at least two so we've got that and a smallish steak just for tasting purposes.

Beef shabu shabu

Beef shabu shabu
Shabu-shabu. We probably messed up during cooking, but I was completely unimpressed.

Kobe beef
And this is the steak. Absolutely fantastic, best I have ever tried. We are deeply regretting we did not just get two bigger steaks instead of shabu-shabu.

evening cake
Returned to hotel quite late and Ksusha got this fruit cake for late supper.

We were so impressed with the Kobe beef that we decided to return and try it again, and we did return next week, on the day of a supercomputing workshop that I needed to visit.

That time we went to a different place, a family-run (mom and son) restaurant just off Sannomiya station:

Kokubu Steakhouse

Kokubu Steakhouse

Kokubu Steakhouse

salad
Salad.

sauce

spinach

Cooking beef
This is our meat being prepared. Total cost: around $160.

Kooking beef

Sirloin and tenderloin
Sirloin (foreground) and tenderloin (background) pieces. Also very soft and nice, but a bit blander than at the port, so we liked the port version better. The service here was much more personal, though.

And we also returned to Kobe once more on December 6th for the Kobe Luminarie Christmas lights display.

Kobe Luminarie is held since 1995 to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. There's a different theme every year, this year it was called "a memory of light" - 光の記憶.

Police

Police
Police was everywhere directing flow of human traffic.

Crowd flowing

Crowd flowing
Periodically they stopped us (see the sign) to let other people to cross the street.

rowd

Christmas trees

Crowd

Crowd
Overall they led us via some twisted route to have more people to fit in a kind of a walking line.

About to enter the illuminare

And finally we approaced the lights themselves. Over 200,000 handpainted lamps donated by Italian government.

About to enter the illuminare

Crowds

Light palace

Light palace

Light palace

crowds

crowds in light palace

crowds in light palace

crowds in light palace

crowds in light palace

Throwing money at bells
This structure was housing Christmas bells that people were throwing money at to make them ring.

Money collection
Money were quickly accumulating on the floor.

And the video of our walkthrough:

Also the music was pretty good, so here's a separate video with just the music:

Kobe Illuminarie

At the exit from Luminarie there was a bunch of food vendors stands

Takoyaki stand
Takoyaki.

Gyoza stand
Some tiny fried gyoza.

Making gyoza
Gyoza cooking.

Gyza purchase
We decided to get some gyoza for ourselves.

In general I guess it's only worth visiting Luminarie if you happen to be around the area while it's happening, but going out of your way just for it does not really make sense. It's just because we had the "free" shinkansen tickets that we made this run all the way from Tokyo (wasting 6 hours for the trip in process too).

Saving electricity with millions of lamps on at a time
Going back this caught my eye. Left hand side promotes electricity-hogging Christmas illumination events, right hand side calls to conserve electricity ;)

And this concludes our three visits to Kobe. I hope we'll return some day for more of the beef!

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