Kobe Holiday Stroll – the ropeway ride of 100 pictures

beautiful dam, damn beautiful

beautiful dam, damn beautiful

Random Observation/Comment #43: Strange customs are being developed every day.I have urges to start odd routines, like fold my receipts into origami butterflies, or eat every kind of onigiri flavor available at the Family Mart for breakfast.

I woke fully prepared to face a Monday morning of posting entries, checking email, fooling around with facebook, watching Colbert report, and avoiding my work.This was the natural routine of the Monday (and every other weekday) morning.I found it a little weird when the bus stop was completely empty at 8:40AM because the line is usually queued for half the block – it still amazes me how the rush hour traffic fits into that small bus.I assumed it was a holiday, but I needed to make sure.Torn between many different threads of thought, I walked towards the monorail with the intention of going to the lab anyway.With every step, the variable weights changed in my mind and I kept wondering if I should turn back and start the day as if it were a weekend.I finally reached the station with my messenger bag and spoke to the station attendant to see if it were really a holiday for everyone.Indeed, the calendar date was red – wtf is sea-day?Apparently sea day is a fairly new holiday synchronized with some of the last days of elementary schools to motivate more of a traveling long weekend instead of a one day escapade.I’m glad he gave me a visual cue because that was the only thing I understood from that conversation.

I turned around from the monorail and headed home to pack my backpack for a day walking around wherever my whim led me.It was already 10AM, so I hurried to the station with my 2L water and chips.I was in such a hurry that it took me a 20-minute to realize I had left my camera back at the apartment.If it were any other article I would have said something like “screw it, we’ve gone too far,” but this camera was as much a part of me as my arms and legs.The strap around my wrist and grip along the button fits on like a glove and taking these pictures have become as natural as blinking.

The stores were all closed and the train was filled with little kids ready for a bug catching adventure.I saw a few hikers following my day plan to Kobe.I didn’t exactly know where to go, but I heard that there is a hike up the path to the ropeway from Shinkobe station.From Osaka, I took the Hankyu line to Sannomiya and then transferred to the Sanyo Railway for a one-stop 200 yen rip-off to Shinkobe.I wish it were walk-able, but I think they do most of the pricing by distance.I visited the information center of this station to get the maps and suggested path.Somewhere on the Internet someone wrote that it’s a nice 40 minute walk up to the ropeway top, but this person was lying or somehow flew up there.The walk I took was uphill and very tiring on a hot and sunny day (I’m not going to lie, it sucked balls and I was drenched after the first waterfall).I suggest taking the ropeway up to the top and doing a hike downward.You’ll pass through all of the waterfalls on the way down and have an easier hike.

The path I took was horrendous, but I suggest doing what I did backwards.Just because I like writing, I’ll describe my experience of the day in reverse, starting from the most beautiful ropeway ride I have ever seen…

The curved window gave an odd camera glare to my pictures of the view across the entire side of the city built on the mountain.Riding upwards, the small window is on the left, which gives you the view of the naturally kept shape silhouette of the trees.I stuck my camera out the window to take pictures of the city side on the way down.This was probably the only advantage for walking uphill for 5 hours.The houses looked small and the pure enormity of the detail in the image was difficult to scan in one pass.There was no single point of focus, but a blur of reality before me.

The top of the mountain reminded me of a small old-style villa from the first scene of Beauty and the Beast.There was even a cart with some flower pots and concession stands for local goods.This copy was purely external because the hidden automatic doors and ice cream stands didn’t preserve the ambiance.It also didn’t help that the villa only consisted of the two buildings in front and the small view behind.

Walking up the herb garden was not simple, and I don’t think the walk down is too much fun on the knees either.Most of the flowers are not terra-formed like the rice patties on the mountainside.Instead, the hardworking agricultural engineers planted everything along the hillside.Small plateaus were used for the potted plants, but much of the beauty came from this small field of slightly tilted bulbs.The entrance fee is 200 yen and it is basically required if you want to hike back down.On a slow day, there is no guard at the bottom of the mountain, so you could just sneak in.It’s a terrible uphill walk, so even if you did get away with it once, you won’t really want to do the walk again.

The glass polygon garden is a must-see on the way down because there is a great view in the back area.You will also see this beautiful statue of a mother meeting foreheads with a child in a loving protective pose (this was my absolute favorite).The café there had a great air conditioning system, but the food looked expensive and classy – too classy for a sweaty traveler.

The walk along the garden will be a lot more beautiful when all the flowers bloom.It was a little dead except for a few of the pretty ones.I was already so tired from the earlier walk that the only Holy Grail in the distance was the end of the cable car poles.However, no matter how many gardens and poles I passed, there seemed to be another bend and twist of the pebble path to make my knees weaker.

I thought I had seen the heavenly gates before my eyes because of my shortness of breath and sweat soaked shirt.The ropeway ending point seemed like the first layer of heaven.I looked further down the path into the herb garden to see what tempted me to be an even more beautiful view.I had already walked so far from the waterfalls that I convinced myself that it would be worth it to walk up to the top.It seemed as if I had conjured this strength from deep within my bodily limits and believed that the next few steps would be worth all of my efforts.I had, at least, learned this much from religious influence.

There were two choices before me and I looked to see which direction more people came from to decide my path.What do all those characters mean?Later I learned that one said “climb me if you’re crazy” and the other said “walk this way if you’re strolling” (well not literally, of course).I had, at first, chosen the easier long path, but I kept second guessing that this would lead to a bus stop where people had just gotten off and are now walking down the mountain.After about 1 km of walking, I backtracked and climbed up the mountain on the second path.These steps were huge and thin – If the steps were any thinner, I would have been using my arms for support.When I reached the top, I immediately said, “You gotta be shittin’ me!?!”In front of me was a road for cars with no one in sight.What the crap is going on here?I continued to walk uphill with my confidence shattered and my shirt slightly more ruined.

The dam’s drinking water looked serene.A cool breeze made the reflection of the trees in the water a blur between dark and light green.Some random old man started speaking out loud about 5 feet to my right.It took me a few minutes to realize that he wasn’t just senile and talking to himself.I looked over and paid attention enough to hear his sentence end in “ne,” which gives an indication that I should agree with his random comment.For all I know he could have been reciting an epic poem or telling me about a death of a family member.I felt like a puppy communicating with a little boy.My head tilted slightly and I tried to move my ears and look like the most lost person in the world. “Shironai.”I later learned that old people speak really slurred Japanese, and they don’t care to slow down and pronounce their syllables.I think I would be just as confused if I had studied Japanese for a few more years, and then bumped into the same guy.

The steps didn’t look like they ended anytime soon.I had lost track of the ropeway, which was right above me at one point.Looking back at where I walked, the route tied around the other mountains to reach the top.The curvy zig zag path felt so inefficient.It had been 10 minutes since I last passed that interesting rope vine bridge to nowhere, and I was not too happy about the lack of shade ahead.My only motivation was thinking about the number of pictures I would take on the way down from the ropeway.

The view halfway up (or halfway down if you’re following the post this way) the mountain was special, but I had just finished the last of my 2L bottle of water so the sight looked a little grimmer as I thought about the rest of the walk up the mountain.I wish I could have refilled my water from the gorgeous waterfall earlier.Well, at least I bought an ice cream at that little store after the second waterfall to add some morsel of confidence.It (the ice cream, not the confidence) didn’t taste too good, but it quenched my thirst and left my mouth salivating for more (I guess it could apply to the confidence).Be sure to just stop and eat it because there’s no place to throw out the trash until you reach the half mountain point.

All I wanted to do was take off my clothes and jump into the water at the base of the waterfall.The walk had already been so horrendous.The full body pictures in front of this landmark actually looked like I put on my shirt without drying my body from a dip in the pool.It was already the second waterfall so I thought the walk shouldn’t be that much farther.I think this waterfall looks a little bit better than Minoh’s, but I might have been delusional from dehydration (for Minoh’s walk and this one).

It felt so good to see a waterfall in front of me for the first time in the day.I took a creepster picture of a girl holding an umbrella on the bridge overlooking the waterfall.Unfortunately, the trees were not changing color and the lighting kept the waterfall in the distance blurry.Her boyfriend didn’t look too happy after I took the picture.I was getting a little tired.It didn’t help that I had wandered off somewhere for 1.5 hours and lost the main trail up the mountain.

“Oh look, a side trail.Let’s go and see what’s over there.Maybe there’s a magical pony that will show me his world.”It was only 2 km roundtrip, so I manned up and started my first trail in Shinkobe.The steps were made of stone and everything looked like clay.They kept teasing me with these signs that told me how far I had walked every 5 minutes.At first, I thought, “wow, that was a quick 100m – this should be cake.”Then after 7km of walking around, I find myself shuffling my feet and gasping for air.It occurred to me that I should walk back, but when there’s 3km left, you just want to go the rest of it.The path split – one up the mountain and one along the side.With hopes to find a shortcut that would go back to the main path, (what a freakin’ stupid idea) I started climbing up.There was nothing but these old roots that acted as steps, but then a pair of hikers passed me and made me think there was actually something up there.As I walked for 30 minutes without seeing the end, I decided to give up.No more motivation to climb those nonstop flights of stairs.I must have vertically scaled at least 15 stories before turning back.At the end of the normal path, there was just a view of the city just skimming all the tops of the buildings.It was pretty pretty, but not worth going off course.

The information center lady was so nice.“Are you going to walk it?Oh, that should be nice,” she said with such a happy voice.“Have fun,” she added with a smile.Little did I know that this smile was a smirk and her comment was sarcastic.Learn to tell jokes, Japan.That’s just mean.

~See Lemons on Holiday-Vacation

shinkobe ropeway

shinkobe ropeway