So, the plan for today was to get up early, shoot to Himeji right quick, tour the castle and gardens in the morning and then kick over to Kobe and tour the city there for the afternoon.... yeah... about that. Up on time, get down to the station a little after 8:20, grab a quick McBreakfast... first JR Pass grade Shinkansen is not until 9:49 for a ~1 hour trip meaning that I didn't get there until 11:00. About this time is when I should've remembered that the regular train also goes there and checked for express times. Lesson for the future: if you're working in hour windows the standard train still moves pretty quick if you can line up a "Rapid" or "Super Rapid" express that bypasses many of the local stops.
Getting there later in the afternoon than I'd hoped I make it a priority to see the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution which is home to exhibits and research on the Kobe Earthquake in 1995 that destroyed much of the city and caused widespread devastation. There's a lot of information here; perhaps too much. I'd argue you could literally walk in with a notepad and walk out prepared to run a disaster recovery team 3 days later if you never stopped reading.
Luckily, they're likely to kick you out so they can go home first.
That said, it's all good information and, despite the fact I eventually gave up on trying to read it all, I left kinda hoping there was a dvd I could bring with me to work through at my leisure.
Anyways, it's time for dinner. It'd be kinda silly to goto Kobe and not try Kobe Beef, right? Right:
Finishing up the day, I tour the Kitano District of Kobe which is where the western representatives settled when Kobe was the first port officially opened to western trade and presence. It's full of classic Victorian and Gothic architecture but not so much westerners these days as it's more of a boutique district and location of western style restaurants and pubs; including a Swiss Chalet that's totally unrelated to the Canadian chicken chain and instead more Bavarian style food. I'm able to grab one shot of the houses there and then the battery dies.
Tomorrow's forecast: partly cloudy, chance of stars and gold.