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Last fall my wife and I flew to Japan, on a three week trip, to visit our son Justin and do some traveling. We figured it would be our only chance to travel around Japan with a native speaker. This will be the first of my blogs describing our trip.

We drove up to Duluth, Minnesota and departed from Duluth at 4 in the morning. We caught our first plane in Minneapolis and flew to Chicago. From Chicago we flew to Tokyo where we caught our last flight to Osaka. In all we were up for about 36 hours. This is a shot from the plane window as we were flying to Osaka at sunset.

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Our son met us in Osaka and we caught the last bus to Kobe. It was late at night when we arrived in Kobe so we hung on to Justin as we zipped through the train station and caught the underground to our Hotel.

We were staying the ANA Crowne Plaza which is connected to the Shin-Kobe Shinkansen Station. If it hadn’t been for Justin we would probably still be trying to find our way out of the underground. When we arrived they were kind enough to upgrade us to a suite. Justin was impressed because our suite was bigger that his apartment. This was the view of Kobe from our hotel room.

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We planned to rest up from our trip so we slept in until 9am then headed down for breakfast. Wow what a spread. I’ve never stayed anyplace that had a breakfast compared to the ANA Crowne Plaza.

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After Breakfast we decided to walk down to the Sannomiya Station which seemed to be the main train station for getting around in Kobe. We wanted to go to see the earth quake damage but couldn’t figure out where it was. As we were looking at a map trying to figure out where things were in relation to the station a young woman came up and volunteered to take us to our destination. We walked through several beautiful parks on the way including Higashiyuenchi Park.

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We ended up at a park dedicated to the earthquake but we realized later we really wanted to be at the Earthquake Memorial Museum. After walking around the park we decided to head over to Harborland and Meriken Park to look around.

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After walking around the park we worked our way back to Kobe Chinatown and on to one of the large malls in Kobe then back to Sannomiya Station where we were to meet Justin and headed off to find a place for dinner.

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Dinner was our first experience ordering a meal in Japan. When you go into a restaurant you are seated then your waiter disappears. They only return when you holler to them  them. I suspect Linda and I would still be sitting in the restaurant waiting for service if it wasn’t for Justin. Some of the chain restaurants have a buzzer that you can ring to wall your waiter,

After supper we walked over to Kobe Station where we were going to catch the train to Justin’s apartment. He took the opportunity to give us a tutorial on riding trains in Japan. There are a variety of trains and the key is to know which ones stop at the station you want to stop at. On the train platform there are symbols painted showing where the train stops and where you should be standing to get on the train. The electronic signs tell you which side of the platform the train will arrive at, the time and which symbol you should be standing by. Fortunately the information is periodically displayed in English.

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We took the train our to Justin’s apartment which is only a few blocks from the school he teaches at. It was almost dark by the time we arrived. After the tour we were given detailed instructions on how to get back to our hotel. Fortunately we had walked down a couple of main streets from the station to his apartment so it wasn’t a problem getting back to the station. However, when we walked up to the platform and it was dark and were confused on which direction we should be heading. We missed the first train but we finally concluded that the trains that were full of people were heading out from the city so we took the empty train back into the city. We finally made it back to our hotel late in the evening. This is a view from his apartment.

View-from-Justins-Appartment Takatori-Japan-15-9-_2975

More photos from our visit to Japan can be found on my website.

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One Comment

  1. Wow what a wonderful trip!


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