Another Saturday, another day exploring Kobe. We started out heading into Sannomiya and walking to Sorakuen, a traditional Japanese landscape garden. It used to be part of the mayor of Kobe's private residence but was opened to the public in 1941. There were also some historical buildings but you couldn't go inside, you just got to see the exterior. Most of the buildings were destroyed during WWII but there remained a stable from the mid- to late 1800's. They had also moved a home from a different neighborhood to replace the mayor's mansion from the same historical period. They aren't note worthy for their age as much as their design, they were modeled on European architecture instead of Japanese. There were lots of little fountains and carved stone stuff. Some flowers but not many. There are 4,000 azalea trees so it is supposed to be quite the sight when they're in bloom.
After the garden we headed back towards the train station area to grab some lunch. We ended up at another Chinese restaurant. It wasn't anything special. Afterwards we decided to walk through China Town on our way to the Kobe City Museum. Now all the stores and stalls were open and it was a proper, crowded China Town. I wanted a “kokonatsumiruku” coconut milk boba smoothie, it turned out to literally be coconut milk, like from the can, ice and boba. They don't seem to do blended drinks. Those of you who drink margaritas would probably only be able to get them on the rocks.
The Kobe City Museum is dedicated to showing that cultural exchange between Japan and other nations has been going on for centuries. We really wanted to see the “southern barbarian art” Namban art. It is work with foreign subjects painted in Japanese style, it came about after the Portugease sent missionaries in the 1500's. Unfortunately that exhibit wasn't open yet so we just saw maps, letters, and artifacts from various cultural exchanges. They also had an exhibit about paleolithic Japanese cultures. There was a drawing of cave men in loin cloths and it was interesting because they seemed white to us. They had more facial hair and lighter skin then you would expect Japanese cave men to have. The museum went with a more western depiction.
Once we learned all about Kobe's cultural exchange history, well the 20% that was translated into English, we went to Meriken park. Apparently a popular date area there are public sculptures, lots of places for skate boards (the first we've seen in Japan), and a giant mall on the western edge.
This is a list of prohibited activities in the park. We could not figure out what "leaving a log in the park" meant. We even considered a clever attempt at translating "going to the bathroom" but in another sign it says "leaving a dog in the park." Some adolescent boy probably thought he was being funny scratching up the sign.
This huge fish sculpture was designed by Frank Gehry.