Tag Archives: kobe

HEAVENLY HIMEJI

After a rest day at the World Cup yesterday, the action returned on Tuesday in Kobe for an encounter that was both a mismatch and a dead rubber. As expected, the Springboks crushed the Canadians with the minimum of fuss, running in ten tries to take the game 66-7. However, the Canadians did do well to restrict the South Africans to three tries in the second half and to score one themselves with a man disadvantage.

We had a look at Kobe itself last week, but Himeji, home of Japan’s largest and most famous castle, is just a little ways down the train track. I visited the city myself in my first summer in Japan, and I think it’s fair to say I was a little taken with it reading back the blog I wrote then. I wonder how I’d feel now after seeing so many other castles.

The Japanese themselves have nicknamed the castle either ‘White Egret Castle’ or ‘White Heron Castle’ due to the brilliant white that the castle regained after renovation in 2015. But it seems there’s no pleasing some, as it is now perhaps most famously known as ‘Too White Castle’.

A quick word to the wise on my experience of Japanese castles in general. With few exceptions, the exterior is far more impressive than the interior. If you want to just walk around the grounds, it is most often free, as they normally serve a double function as a park for local residents.

The Japanese love numbering and ranking their attractions. Himeji is one of Japan’s “three great castles”, alongside Kumamoto (mentioned yesterday) and Matsumoto. There are also “three great gardens”, which are located in Kanazawa, Okayama and Mito. I’ve been to all three of the castles and one of the gardens. They were all worth it.

Tomorrow is a day of reckoning for Scotland. They need to beat Russia, and they need to secure a bonus point. Even if they do manage that, it’s going to be a tall order facing the tournament hosts just four days later. Wales will also have the chance to all but secure first place in their pool against Fiji in the late game.

Today’s Match
South Africa 66-7 Canada (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Argentina vs USA (1345 JST) (Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya)
Scotland vs Russia (1615 JST) (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)
Wales vs Fiji (1845 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)

Expression of the day
白すぎ城へ行ったことがありますか ? (shiro sugi jou e itta koto ga arimasu ka)
Which means…
(Have you been to “Too White Castle”?)

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KILTS IN KOBE

Today’s match was a key one for both the Scots and Samoa, as the Japanese victory over Ireland had blown the group wide open.

Although you can never be sure in rugby, it does seem likely that there are now three contenders for the knockout stages rather than four as Scotland took a bonus point in a comprehensive 34-0 victory.

The Samoans will have to regroup before they face the host nation on Saturday, whilst Scotland will play their next game against Russia.

The match today took place in Kobe, which is often rated a lovely place to live. You can read the article on my visit four years ago here.

Rather bizarrely, the basketball legend Kobe Bryant is also connected to the city. His father liked the name so much when he saw it on a restaurant menu (Kobe beef is legendary) that he decided to name his kid after it.

But that didn’t stop Kobe himself suing the city for naming rights in 2010, due to the fact that he was, in his opinion, far more famous. Litigation gone mad.

Tomorrow is a rest day at the World Cup (but not for the blog) and the beginning of October. It was another scorcher today, however, so there’s very little autumnal feeling going around, despite the shop decorations’ best efforts.

Today’s Match
Scotland 34-0 Samoa (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Expression of the day
住みやすい所です (sumiyasui tokoro desu)
Which means…
It’s a nice place to live.

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Kobe

August 2015

According to my pre-trip reading, this was supposed to be one of the most, if not the most livable city in Japan for expats, but lacking in major attractions. On reflection, I’d say that was a fair call, although it was hard to judge the standard of life here on just a flying visit.

The station in the centre of town is Sannomiya (although the Shinkansen arrives at Shin-Kobe) and since I had the cheap JR Seishun-18 ticket, it was here that I alighted. A short walk up the hill brings you to a strange district known as Kitano, which contains various examples of western style houses from France, Italy, England, Denmark, Austria etc.

Having grown up in Europe, these houses looked remarkably normal and unimpressive to me, although it was admittedly a little intriguing to see the Japanese eagerly snapping photos of them. Naturally, I did not fork out the steep entrance fees to go inside the buildings, but I did climb up to the Shinto shrine at the top for some nice views out onto Osaka Bay.

I may have had some beef with the houses, but I had no beef with the beef. Kobe is famous across Japan for its marbled meat and I purchased a little of it (a proper serving at a restaurant would have blown a few days’ budget) in the souvenir shop at Shin-Kobe station  to eat at the nearby waterfall.

Well, that was the plan. I was a little blasé reading the instructions to get there and went over the station instead of under it and ended up following a completely different road uphill.

After climbing for about 30 minutes, drenched in sweat, I decided I had probably gone the wrong way. By this time, I was way up in the mountains by a stream all on my own, which was, as it happened, a perfect place to stop for food.

I descended then ascended again, this time the right way. Nunobiki Waterfall was fairly impressive, but full of Japanese tourists and a few noisy children. I was not too disappointed I’d gone the wrong way earlier for my lunch.

The other thing that Kobe is known for is the devastating earthquake that struck here in 1995. I can still remember seeing images of the damage on TV in England as a 13-year-old. I witnessed no lingering effects during my visit and the town seemed to have confidently moved on.

Kobe. It was nice enough for a day out, but all in all nothing spectacular.