January 19, 2008

Day in Sannomiya, Kobe

The kids gave us the gift of sleep this morning, sleeping in until an unheard-of 8:30 AM! After whipping up a french toast breakfast, we spent this Saturday morning walking around Rokko Island, hitting the playground and watching all of the morning sports activities on the various nearby fields and play-places. This included watching a field-full of young child kite-fliers. Ilena went for a run on the Greenbelt, a 5K running path around the residential portion of Rokko Island.

We then hopped on a train to Kobe. The main areas there are based around the Sannomiya, Motomachi, and Kobe Stations. The first thing we encountered after getting off at Sannomiya was this Japanese rock band, apparently called Boogie Gallop Foot (all singing in English and not too bad! Although, Jacob remarked that "StarFish is much better than this band"). As we crossed the street to check out the Orix Buffaloes store (the local team, created from a merger of two local teams a couple years ago - one of the teams was Ichiro's former team), we noticed that driving on the "wrong" side of the street was beginning to look pretty normal to us.

Sannomiya is filled with tremendous amounts of shopping. We had lunch at an Okanomiyaki restaurant (Jacob loves the dumplings), and now that we figured out you have to smush it down on the table-top grill to get it to cook nicely, we all really like it! The kids are loving using their chopsticks (we have little plastic "chopstick helpers" that Ilena carries in her purse everywhere).

After lunch gave us a chance to review all the maps and stuff we got at the Information Center, we took a trolley bus ride around town, saw Mt. Rokko up close (it has a very cool cable car ropeway), and eventually got out near the harbor at Kobe Port Tower. We went to the top, which has a super view (where we could see a wedding going on the top of a building below) and a 360 degree rotating tearoom.

Afterward we hit Meriken Park, near the Maritime Museum (housed in a very cool white building near the tower). At the park there, we saw some incredibly masterful jugglers and bike-tricksters. It was pretty amazing. After the park, we wandered around the shops at Harborland, which is like a nicer bigger South Street Seaport with a (yet another) Ferris Wheel and a double-decker merry-go-round. There is also a super cool arcade there. Jacob and Mike got to play this game where you throw balls at a touch-sensitive 50 inch screen. A good time was had by all!

This evening, we've been discovering the vast amount of online resources about living and seeing Japan. There really is so much to see and do. Here are a few of those sites for anyone that is curious:

One last bittersweet note. This weekend is our annual Vermont trip with family and friends back home. We miss it! All our best to everyone.


J & S said...

Today's chapter was wonderful. Enjoyed the visuals as well as the commentary. Noticed lots of smiles. Sounds like each outing is a true adventure. I'm sure that you will enjoy having all this great 'stuff' chronicled so that you will be able to remember everything. Lots of love! J&S

Heather said...

Hi Ilena, This is Heather from Maplewood, soon to be arriving in Tokyo. The area you are in seems so beautiful. Your courage and enthusiasm are so inspiring and I look forward to getting in touch in Japan.... So sorry you missed your Vermont trip. It's somewhere we go too, as my parents live there. Best, Heather