It turns out our bus was at 4, so we ended up spending most of the day in Hiroshima before coming into Kobe around 9, and our hotel around 10. The hotel, for the record, is excessively nice and right on this small island so it is near the water. It also is kind of in this shopping plaza. Most exciting, though, is that the pajamas they provide look like kung fu gear. Haha, so awesome! Moving on, before I talk about Kobe I would like to finish up with my thoughts on activities in Hiroshima, though (at least on the castle).
The castle area is really intense and I personally found it way more cool and interesting than the imperial grounds of Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo even if it was not as outright large and beautiful as any of those three. Basically the castle itself is gorgeous, and its moats are signficantly more like rivers than other castles. The grounds themselves are also somewhat unique, as a lot of pieces were blown away in 1945 -- instead the foundation is still there and the areas of each piece are surrounded in stones, and then the foundation is kind of overrun with grass. People just sit and relax there, which is really cool to see. As for the tower itself, it was kind of moved and then a replica was made, which is now home to a museum. Though, I found this castle museum to be way more exciting than the one in Osaka, as well, for some reason. Each floor is kind of dedicated to a different thing, rather small, and for some reason just way cooler? It starts on the second floor with pieces of the old castle and the history of the township, then it moves on to other things, like there is a floor of paintings, of letters, of weapons and samurai armor, and at the top an observatory -- which is extremely fantastic. Hiroshima is just so beautiful! The mountains are so vivid, and the rivers so lively, it's just an awesome place.
After the castle, we went back to Okonomi-Mura for a final Okonomiyaki before we left. This was a great decision, as the place was way tastier than the first. All the ingredients were freshier, and they did not screw up making mine this time (the first time they messed up an egg so they threw a second one in, which made it pretty weird tasting, although still delicious). I also got it with cheese on it, which was pretty good, and Ben's kimchi looked way better than at the first place. I feel I should give the names of both places incase anyone has the joy of visiting either -- Kazu-chan on the third floor (first one), Shin-chan on the second (second visit).
After that there was just some wandering. We made our way to the station, where Ben quickly came up with an excuse to go separate ways to kill time before the bus -- a pretty obvious ploy to purchase some illicit materials. He did not say particularly what those were, or admit to purchasing illicit materials, but he was a tad too eager to split up, and a tad too impatient when we met up again -- as if he had done his evils quickly and wanted to move on and away from the experience. Once reunited, there was some mishaps with the bus that really shouldn't have occurred, and we were off to where we are now -- much more comfortable ride, for the record. I got to watch two episodes of Freaks and Geeks during it.
Which brings us to Kobe. I cannot say much about the city, as we just got here, save that I am shocked by how different it is from my expectations. I have had very little to go on, save that I expected it to be somewhat of a small, more rural type of city. In actuality it is enormorous, with a large sprawl of buildings and bridges and streets. Absolutely ridiculous! Though, it does remind me how much I am learning about these cities during this trip - and about Japan. I've really only experienced Tokyo before this trip (Hakodate and Aomori was such a short excursion). Pretty much everything I have disliked about Tokyo I have been attributing to all of Japan, and I think I am finally moving away from that with this trip -- by getting a sort of catalogue of the personalities of Japan's other cities. I never realized how big and bold Osaka is -- I used to think of it as just sort of a city that was there, without much purpose. Now I see it as Tokyo's sweet younger sister -- Tokyo being the rebellious teen. When I thought Kyoto I thought of a giant mass of shrines on traditional things just shoved together, but it is more of a trendy, smaller city. It is filled with shrines and traditional kinds of things, but it also has contemporary style -- I have not seen so many upper-class western restaurants outside of Karasuma Oike. As for Hiroshima, I had absolutely no knowledge of the city save that it was bombed. Now I think of it as one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. All in all, I am really excited to continue, and more than a little curious to learn the personalities of Kobe and Nagoya. It is a real shame this trip will end so soon!
P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLE!