I had initially planned two days in Kyoto, but since we had seen the must-sees on my list and we were super keen on the Railway Museum anymore, V suggested we visit Kobe. We had a JR Pass that gave us free travel on lines in Kansai district, and V really wanted to eat Kobe beef. Now, I had been saying all along that one could eat Kobe beef in Osaka itself, but somehow he was stuck on the idea of eating Kobe beef in Kobe, and my research did show that there were many more choices there, so that was that.
By then, I was exhausted with the research and the planning. I suggested Rokkasan Farm, which I knew the kids would love, but V shot it down on the grounds that the journey there was too complicated and I had to grudgingly agree. I threw the ball to him, and he suggested Kawasaki Goodtimes Museum, which has a number of bikes and hands-on things to do in, most importantly especially for V, an air-conditioned environment. And the Anpanman Kids Museum as another option, since the kids seem to be able to go strong for a whole day.
We exited from Kobe station and on our way to the Kawasaki Museum, we landed up in Habourland Mall. Immediately, the kids spotted this lever and ball contraption and were glued to it for about half an hour. We had to drag them off in the promise that we would return, a promise that I intended to keep because the mall looked like exactly what I needed – very spacious, and a nice mix of brands, unlike the department store experience in Osaka that had been uniformly high end.
The walk along the harbourfront to the Kawasaki museum was scenic but extremely hot and when we got there flustered and sweaty, it turned out that it was closed as it was a Monday. Thing to remember about Japan in general – almost all attractions (except possibly shrines) are closed on a Monday, a key fact that had slipped my mind. We were all so disappointed, especially the kids who had dragged their little feet there on the promise of sitting on motorbikes.
On the way there, we had passed a ferry pier, so we decided to take a boat ride instead. This is hardly novel as there are a dime a dozen boat rides in Hong Kong, but it was something to break the tedium of the walk back and in the end in proved to be a very nice outing. The boat is old-style with ropes and rigging, and the interior is rather plush, with tables to sit around. We got the kids icecream to cool down at a very reasonable rate.
The tour goes around the Kawasaki shipbuilding area and dry docks which was actually very nice. The kids got to see a submarine being built. Then we went into the open sea, and we stood outside enjoying the breeze. On the uppermost deck, there are binoculars and a steering wheel, which the kids enjoyed playing with.
Although we just chanced upon it, I would actually recommend this experience, especially for those that don’t have a chance to go out to sea that much.
Then, we headed into the Mosaic mall, where I found an awesome and cheap stationary shop and V found a place where he could get Kobe beef for lunch. I skipped on the beef and I must say I preferred the non-Kobe beef that we had in Osaka.
Then, we headed to the Anpanman Kids Museum which is in the same area. It turned out that one adult could take two kids in for the same price, but we’d have to pay for an additional adult, which makes no sense because shouldn’t the kids be charged seeing as the attractions are for them? So I decided to leave the kids with V and go shopping.
I was actually quite exhausted by then and ended up focusing ironically on Old Navy, where I bought two dresses (identical actually but in different colours) and two tops (again identical and in different colours. I also tried on some nice Japanese brand but in the end, realised I’d get more wear out of the Old Navy stuff. And then I sat down out of budget and exhausted and whiled away 45 minutes instead of doing more shopping. My energy levels are really not what they used to be.
In the meantime the kids really had a good time at the Anpanman Museum, which is more like a themed indoor play area.
That evening, our last in Osaka,we decided to go to a local grilled meat place we had spotted while strolling round our neighbourhood. It turned out to be my second best meal in Japan. Ironically, the style of preparation was Korean, but the meat was Japanese. In fact, the restaurant even had a very apt map of Japan as a beef steak on the wall.