After just three hours sleep I woke feeling absolutely shattered but was keen to not waste my day sleeping in a capsule! I took a bath in the in house onsen and checked out, planning to take a walk through Kobe. Fate had other ideas for me though as when I reached my bike I realised it had a front wheel puncture. I wheeled through compact Kobe past international cuisine restaurants and boutique shops into the hilly district above the port to find a relaxed place to fix the puncture.
I settled in a square surrounded by “classic” reproduction houses from European countries, including an English pub-cottage, a Swiss chalet, a German brick house complete with brass band statues, and a mini French chateaux. It was a peculiar setting, capitalising I presume on Kobe’s reputation for expats and foreign settlers, and it was a nice, if slightly kitche, change to a typical Japanese town style.
Whilst enjoying a chocolate milk and watching a young Japanese couple taking wedding pictures by all the houses, I managed to fix the puncture only for the inner tube to blow again when patched up. I cursed it and just replaced the inner tube – probably what I should’ve done in the first place instead of trying to be clever! I was starving by this time and had a morning omelette with tomato rice and a big coffee to fuel up.
Before moving on I took a look at the hillside temple which is famous as a destination for those making prayers seeking a successful education. I made a cheeky plea for my own upcoming next year of studies and also for my friends and sister who are finishing PhDs this year. I also admired the view over the port to the south and the seemingly endless city to the east.
The Kansai area of Japan covers many big cities in a small area, including Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara and typically the suburbs merge seamlessly into one another. My ride from Kobe to Osaka was typical of this environment – thirty kilometres of traffic lights and traffic jams, with nothing to see and too much stop starting to get any rhythm going.
I took a quick nap and headed out for dinner with a well-named Aussie called Chris where I had an octopus Okonomiyaki in a nice restaurant atop a fancy department store. There were people laden with shopping bags snoozing in the corridors – it seems they had taken the phrase shop till you drop quite literally! We took in a selection of beers at bars around the city centre, but it seemed to be a quiet night and so retired around midnight for some kip. I enjoyed the neon lights of the big city again though; it reminds me of a brighter, wackier version of London and I am keen to see more.