We added to our traditional breakfast today and made miso soup using our water kettle. Turns out I had bought the spicy miso paste so our breakfast had a kick.
It seemed like it is going to be a hazy/foggy/smoggy hot day so we decided to hike around the Rokko Mountains, they're to the north/west of us. There is a cable car station up the street from us that will take people to one of the summits so we figured we'd walk up there and also find a trail head. No luck. We just took streets on the north edge of town until we found one. I took us about an hour from our front door. The trail was pretty much just up. The environment reminds me of hiking in NY. It is very verdant, lots of water, and rocks. We had expected to find hiking maps at the cable car station but didn't so we just took a trail that went up. We also couldn't read any signs but figured out a 'you are here' and that we were getting closer to something. The something was a rocky out cropping that would have had a fantastic view of Kobe if it wasn't so hazy today. We kept going and heard children playing so we figured we were getting closer to something else. That turned out to be a nature camp and a big group of kids all dressed identically were eating lunch in a field. I didn't take a picture because I thought it would seem a little sketchy. We walked right through and started following a rode. This took us to “toire” toilets and another map. Thank goodness there was a man there who spoke a little English because we couldn't even figure out 'you are here' because the symbols had been rubbed away. He told us the hike he just did, Cascade Valley, would take us back to Kobe. At that point we were both concerned we'd end up on the wrong side of the mountain or, not as bad, the far end of Kobe. The hike back was more pleasant because we were going down and because it was better maintained. The guide book here told us to watch out for snakes and stinging centipedes. The snakes don't freak me out, generally the more legs the more creepy in my opinion. I did not want to run into a stinging centipede. The trail we took up was overgrown and Craig lead the way in order to break up spider webs but I kept wondering if centipedes can fall from trees. We wanted to pay attention to where the trail let us out in Kobe but we had to wind our way through neighborhoods so we're not too certain we'll be able to find it again by the most direct route. We were able to see our apartment building, it is nice being on a mountain, so we knew which direction to take. On our way home we saw a shrine. I'm nervous about shrine picture taking protocols so I just took this one of the lions at the gate. We also passed a cemetery. The plots aren't people sized so either they're cremated or being buried vertically. It is a very efficient looking place. Parking cars is equally efficient, these appear to be double decker parking spaces.
After hiking we got all prettied up and took the train into Sannomiya, downtown Kobe. We had our first epic fail in picking a restaurant. It had pictures outside and on the menu so we thought it would be OK. I ended up with a plate of bean sprouts and gristle, literally gristle. There was no actual meat, just 8 or so pieces of gristle mixed into the bean sprouts, there was a watery sauce too. Craig also had a plate of bean sprouts but his came with pieces of chicken meat. There wasn't even rice. We were both hungry after all the hiking and had picked what looked like the heartiest meals on the menu. The couple next to us also seemed to have gotten bean sprouts and something. The kicker is that was the most expensive restaurant we've been to so far. We went grocery shopping and bought food to last a few days and it was less than this place. I didn't take a picture because it was a pretty tight space and I was hungry. After that failure we decided to get some actual food since tomorrow is also fast Sunday. We got some Takoyaki, little fried dough balls with pieces of squid inside, with the cooks choice of sauce because we had no idea. That was a fraction of the price and way more filling. To top off our roaming meal we hit a patisserie, there are bakeries everywhere. We split a chocolate croissant thing that was delicious. Downtown Kobe on a Saturday night is pretty bustling. There were people everywhere trying to attract all the other people to eat in their restaurants or buy in their stores. They just ignore us when we walk by. Since the sun had gone down it was a rather pleasant night to walk around and see the area. The crowds are so fast moving and big I didn't even try to take any pictures for fear of being trampled. I'll have to get more brave.