After a whirlwind 21 hours in The Philippines celebrating 2016 I embarked on my final destination – Japan. I rarely arrive at a city at night because I have always thought that arriving in the day helped with jet lag so flying into Kansai at night felt magical. I felt as though the bright lights were welcoming me into the city.
Having arrived at night I was tired and wanted to sleep. The next day the realization of it all dawned on me. It initially felt strange waking up in a new place but having been here a few days now I’ve made the apartment homely and it now feels like mine.
Festivities and celebrations were still going on in the city and I was warned that a lot of places would be closed until the 3rd but that didn’t stop me. I took myself for a wander around the local area and ended up still walking about four hours later. I stumbled across a food market and was so excited to sample authentic Japanese food.
As excited as I was about the food experience I was about to indulge in, I realised I would have to converse with the man behind the stall. My limited Japanese ranged from counting to four to saying hello, good bye and thank you. With a big smile on my face I pointed to what I wanted, said ichi (meaning one) and handed over cash. The man responded with words obviously beyond my capabilities so I paid, waited for my change,bowed and left.
I’ve realised I need to be fearless when it comes to speaking Japanese. I am so conscious of making a mistake that I end up pointing and smiling. I have a phrase book, flashcards and a CD. In the few days that I have been here I have learnt a few more phrases to add to my repertoire.
I had my first supermarket experience which took a lot longer than I had planned for. I had written my list but until I walked down the first aisle I realised that finding the products on my list wasn’t going to be that easy. I did fairly well (for my first time) and I’m sure over time (through trial and error most probably) I will figure out what things are.
Kobe is a city that is nestled between the mountain and the sea, having arrived in winter I had prepared myself for blistery weather so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself taking off my jacket to walk around the city. I visited the Kobe Port Tower which as the name suggests is by the port and the views from the top were nice. My initial thought was ‘it’s a concrete jungle’because I wasn’t used to viewing so many skyscrapers packed so tightly together but beyond the skyscrapers were the mountains offering a lush green reprieve.
Today I went to Mt Rokko, I ventured on public transport for the first time using my ICOCA card which is similar to an oyster and opal card. I took the cable car up to to the mountain and it reminded me of the steepest railway in The Blue Mountains. The observation deck had great views but they were masked by a blanket of fog. The night view is supposed to be amazing so I will hopefully be able to experience that whilst I’m here. My favourite place at Mt Rokko was the Rokko -Shidare Observatory. The architectural design of it was amazing. It’s shaped like a giant tree and the branches and leaves create the dome like shape.
I’m excited to discover the city of Kobe, I have four days until I start my new job so I will try to do as much exploring as I can.