March 29, 2008

Our First Visitor in Japan, Trip Up Shin Kobe Ropeway

Friday evening, Ilena's brother Matthew arrived. It is so nice to have Matthew here! He will be visiting Japan for the next 10 days, staying with us for most of the time, but also heading to Tokyo for a few days. In addition, Mike's Dad will be here for business beginning next week, and we are thrilled to have two family visitors.

Today, we all headed into Kobe to take the Shin Kobe Ropeway (a cable car) up the mountain. At the top of the Mountain there is a "herb garden," an extensive and beautifully maintained garden and grounds that surrounds the promenade walkway that winds down the mountain. It is called Nunobiki Herb Garden. There are flowers, trees, topiary (and yes, herbs) all over the place. There is also a glass house that includes a greenhouse with larger plants and an exotic fruit garden, as well as a "fragrance museum," where you can smell various fragrance oils (sandalwood, rose, etc.). There are also terrific vistas from atop the mountain, including great views of Kobe below.

So we cable-carred up and hiked down, while exploring the grounds and stopping to smell the flowers (as it is said). It was a really terrific way to spend the day. After exiting the garden grounds, you are only about halfway down the mountain, and we continued a more rigorous hike downwards to see the Nunobiki Waterfall, a really picturesque waterfall that feels like it is in the middle of an isolated forest, even though it is just a short walk from Shin Kobe Station. (the guy who we asked to take a picture of us in front of the waterfall, didn't quite capture it!). It was quite a hike for the kids (and for Mike, who had a couple of guest riders on his shoulders for much of the hike!).

Afterwards, we walked around the Kitano area of Kobe, an area up on the hill that has a somewhat European feel, with cobblestone streets and little tree lined alleys. (We have blogged about Kitano before; it was an area that Ilena had the occasion to explore previously). At this point, the kids were zonked (not to mention hungry). We lucked upon a Dim Sum Restaurant on our way down the hill towards Sannomiya Station, and had a nice Chinese food meal to top off our day.

Upon our return, the kids hit the sack and Ilena took Matthew out to our favorite little bar to have a couple of drinks and enjoy some great 70s and 80s tunes.

Tomorrow...we head to Osaka Dome to see the Hanshin Tigers opening weekend baseball game. Should be fun!

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