After leaving Okayama, I headed for Kobe.  Internationally, Kobe is famous for beef – but that aside, it’s not well known as a tourist destination for foreigners.  The city itself is very much international – and in that way, I would say similar to Toronto.  There are a lot of non-Japanese people living and working Kobe, and the culinary scene reflects that.  

The hotel I chose was downtown, and in the heart of the entertainment district – which is both good and bad.  The walk from the main train station to the hotel was littered with people looking dinner, bars, or entertainment.  There were only too many people on the street looking to help, in the form of handing out brochures and advertisements to local establishments, urging customers to enter.  Differentiating between actual restaurants and “Girls Bars” was fairly straightforward, as you might expect.

The hotel I had chosen was a little more upscale than the typical business hotel, but wasn’t much more money – what it lacked (a washer and dryer) it made up for in european style.  This also made it popular for weddings, and the fact that it had its own chapel certainly helped.  I think I saw a wedding couple getting their photos done at least once every day I was in Kobe.

Sunday was to be the day I visited the Sake Brewers in Nada, another thing that Kobe is famous for.  Over 30% of the Sake sold in Japan comes from Nada – so you know it’s good.  Most of the day was spent sampling the goods at six of the local breweries.  The plum blossoms where still open at one of the brewers, which was a nice touch, and the local greenery at one of the nearby shrines was quite a site.

As luck would have it, there was a park nearby with cherry blossoms in full bloom, the first I’d seen yet this mature.  

The next day I decided to visit Kitano, which is an area of Kobe made up of “foreigner houses” from days gone by, now mostly turned into shops, cafes, and restaurants.  Again, this is probably more of interest to japanese tourists, but it was a nice walk with views out over the city.

On the way, I snapped a couple of shots of the street “between the tracks”.

A Pachinko parlour (slots) at night, and a departing train were a couple of interesting night shots I was able to find.  The covered shopping streets were deserted, but the lighting was interesting enough.

On my way back to the hotel, I came across this rather intoxicated gentleman purchasing the local pastry on a street corner.  He looked happy enough, though stumbled a fair bit; it was entertaining to watch the interaction when other customers showed up.  A salary man, definitely, but I got the impression he had kids waiting for him at home.