I remember eating at Kobe’s Steakhouse in Kansas for the first time in high school. I thought it was something owned by the basketball player, but then I found out it had something to do with Japan. Kobe was a place in Japan that sells really good beef, I was told.
So when I moved here, I learned that Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto were all prefectures. So it just made sense in my head that Kobe would be its own prefecture, too.
My husband and I traveled to Kobe Port a few months after moving here. I later bought a map to mark the prefectures I had visited and I was so confused when I couldn’t find Kobe. Turns out, it’s because Kobe isn’t actually a prefecture! It’s a city inside of lesser-known Hyogo. It’s still in the Kansai area of Japan, but it’s a bit further from me than the other places I visit often. It took me this long to go to enough places to post about it, so I hope this is good. I only have a couple of separate destinations, but there is so much to do in each that they are worth a post in and of themselves.
Kobe Port is a fun place to go for views and shopping. There isn’t really a lot to do, but it’s worth stopping by to see the great views. You can go up into Kobe Port Tower to take in the city and eat in the 360 degree cafe that overlooks it. If you are really just wanting more of a view, you can take it in on the Ferris Wheel right on the edge of the port.
Then you can go into the shopping area right underneath for some good food and cute things to buy. We went there on a date in the evening and then went back during the day as a family, and I’d say both times are worth going. It would be a good trip to take on a day that you just aren’t feeling as energetic, because everything is pretty close together.
Kobe Port Tower Address
5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 650-0042
Himeji Castle Park
I was completely amazed by this castle. I was skeptical that it could be anywhere near as cool as Osaka Castle (see earlier post of me GUSHING about how great Osaka Castle is) and walked out slightly humbled and completely in awe.
This castle has been restored, but to the smallest extent possible. There was even a sign as entered saying that it contained the original flooring, so take off your shoes and imagine that you can feel the feet of former samurai and daimyo (war lords.)
There are 7 floors with small displays, but you mostly just take in the view and the different rooms in the structure. I was a little disappointed because we were a little rushed through. The day we went it was really busy, so they were just trying to get as many people through as possible. You couldn’t really spend a lot of time observing close up, but it was still pretty awesome. Also, just a heads up – these 7 floors do not include an elevator. You have to climb steep stairs to each floor and then walk back down them all to get out. You can’t bring strollers into the park, either.
When you exit the castle, you get to go into a courtyard that has a great view of the rest of the park and Himeji City.
Himeji Castle Park
68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture 670-0012
To get there from Hiroshima Station, there’s a tourist bus shaped like an old car. It will take you to the castle for 100 yen per adult and 50 yen per child.
One other side of it that you do not want to miss is the Ladies Quarters. This building was just recently restored and opened and it is gorgeous. You get to walk through and peek into each of the rooms. You can also see little openings in the walls that were put in so that archers could shoot out without being shot down. At the very end of the building, you get to see Princess Sen’s quarters that were purchased with her dowry. She was said to have worshiped in that room every morning, and it’s the only royal quarters that you can see in Japan.
It’s right inside the park entrance, just turn to the left!
When you buy your entry ticket, I definitely recommend paying for the Ko-Koen Garden as well. With the castle ticket it’s only 40 yen, whereas it’s 500 if you buy it separately. It’s a short walk from the castle and it is beautiful, traditional, and HUGE. There are 13 different parts of the garden, each one prettier than the last.