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INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

HYOGO, JAPAN: Day 7 – February 18, 2015




 
Published on: September 24, 2017
 
 
For our 7th day, we visited the farthest destination in our itinerary, Hyogo Prefecture, a 2hour train ride from our apartment in Osaka.
 
Hyogo Prefecture is popular for its beautiful scenery, pristine beaches, picturesque mountains, onsen, and of course, the world-famous Kobe Beef.
 
Sadly, we only scheduled 1 day for Hyogo and we can only afford to visit few places to visit.
 
 
Himeji Castle

 

Himeji Castle Japan

 
During our visit, the castle was under renovation works so some of the areas are closed but we were still able to tour and explore the other areas of the castle.
 
Said to be the largest castle in Japan, Himeji Castle is also considered the best-preserved castle. Known as the White Heron Castle due to its elegant, white appearance, Himeji Castle was declared as a UNESCO heritage site and a National Treasure. It is one of the twelve original castles that survived bombings during the World War II, fires and earthquakes.
 

Himeji Castle Japan

 

Himeji Castle Japan

 
The castle was totally astonishing and its structure totally impressed us and our architect heart. It was also coined as the “White Egret Castle” due to the fact that it appears to be a bird preparing to fly.
 
 

Himeji Castle Japan

 
Originally, there are three moats surrounding the castle that serves a dual purpose; making it harder for the intruders to penetrate the compound and as protection for fire. Today, only the innermost moat was left.
 

Himeji Castle Japan

 

We also find Himeji’s 15 meter high stone walls very interesting—a very steep and curved wall with a primary function of making it harder for enemies or invader to see the castle directly from the base of the wall and as to make it harder for them to climb.
 

Himeji Castle Japan

 

This castle is a monument of the Japanese builder’s craftmanship—they were able to build a majestic castle using only the basic elements of nature such as wood, water, and stones. 

Himeji Castle Japan

 

Himeji Castle Japan

 

Himeji Castle Japan

 
 
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
 
After our visit to Himeji Castle, we walked around the area and we passed by this building. It was not on our original itinerary and we didn’t have enough time to go inside but we are glad to find this gem at the northeast corner of the Himeji compound. We were greatly impressed by how it was strategically oriented. We loved the idea of indirectly incorporating the traditional architecture with modern design by reflecting the Himeji Castle. This idea was by none other than the winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture—The Japanese architect, Kenzō Tange.
 

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History

 

Doggo

Doggo

 
We were supposed to stay in Himeji until lunchtime only and move on to the next place to visit. Apparently, Himeji was too good and we can’t get enough of it. We didn’t notice the time and we left there about 4 pm already. It took most of our day and I actually don’t want to leave!
 
Since we were quite behind our itinerary, we have to skip the Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Arts – another Tadao Ando work—because the museum closes around 6 pm. So we just went straight to our next destination.
 
 
Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park
 
Travelled for about an hour via train to Kobe Prefecture. We first dropped by the Harborland.
 
Harborland is known as a shopping and entertainment district. It offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, cafes and other amusements. The most popular shopping complex in the Kobe Harborland is Umie that consists of South Mall, North Mall, and Mosaic.
 

harbor Land

 

Meriken Park, on the other hand, is known for its waterfront park in Kobe’s port area. It is also known for some of the iconic contemporary architecture such as the Kobe Maritime Museum and the Kobe Port Tower.
 
Kobe Port Tower is a famous symbol of Kobe. Standing 108 meter high, Kobe Port Tower is the world’s first building to feature a pipe structure and was named as the “Steel Tower Beauty” with over 7,000 LEDs that illuminates at night. The tower has an observation platform that offers a 360-degree view of Kobe and other nearby destinations.
 

Kobe Tower

 

Kobe Maritime Museum has a prominent white framed roofing that gives an impression of a sailboat. It was opened in 1868 to mark the 120 years of the Port of Kobe and offers a glimpse of its history by housing ship and rigging records, diorama models and videos of the construction and port facilities.
 

Kobe Maritime Museum

 

Kobe Tower

 
 
Steak Land
 
It was almost dinner time when we walked around Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park. And of course, the main reason for visiting Kobe is the Kobe beef.
 
We specifically visited Steak Land as it was one of the most recommended restaurants to try Kobe beef based on our research.
According to some reviews online, people wait in line for 45mins to 1 hour just to try the said beef. Lucky for us, despite it’s dinner time we only waited for about 30 minutes. (We are kinda’ unlucky when it comes to queueing in line. Read here: Japan day 6)
 
It was a full house inside the restaurant and we were designated to seat in a teppanyaki counter bar, which is totally fine since there is only the two us and we get to see our food being cooked.
 
For Kobe beef, there 2 grades to choose from –Special Kobe Beef Set (A5) and Kobe Beef Set (A4). They also offer Special Kobe beef loin steak dinner and Special Kobe beef fillet steak dinner which is a different cut of beef. A Higher grade means higher marble or fats in a beef. We chose the A4 grade as we wanted to have a bit more of meat.
 
All sets come with appetizers, special soup, seafood, grilled vegetables, salad,bread or rice, dessert, with coffee or juice.
 

Kobe Beef

 

Kobe Beef

 
IT WAS TOTALLY DELICIOUS AND IT DOES MELT IN YOUR MOUTH.
 
I seriously don’t know how to describe it. All I could say is, it was so good, I think it deserves its own blog entry. Hmmm.
 
 

Photos taken: February 2015

 

Read: OSAKA, JAPAN: Day 6 – February 17, 2015

 
 
 
 
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