Can you travel Japan on just $40 a day? We're about to find out with only a few days left in Japan. To see whether we manage to make it work or not, be sure to follow our blog or Facebook page to stay updated.
Where did we end up today in Japan?
Kobe, Japan. It's Sunday, November 11, 2018.
We left from Sun Village hostel in Osaka early in the morning and boarded the train toward Kobe for a day trip (while technically overnight).
Where did we stay the night in Kobe?
Browsing through cheap hostels in Kobe, we came across Nakamura Hostel. While not the best deal in Japan, the best for the day.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly staff member who welcomed us and gave us a walk-through of the hostel. She was extremely courteous and got us situated right away.
Looking around, however, we were confused. The hostel seemed to be an old bar with a combination of mismatched decór: antique toys were scattered about, several travel guides/itineraries were plastered all over the walls, and a lounge with a broken video game console offered guests a place to sit and relax. While no particular theme was inherently awful, the overlap of each design contradicted the other and left a tacky impression.
Besides that, the kitchen area was a mess. The refrigerator itself was filthy and stuffed with old foods, the wash room had a handful of half-filled/empty hygiene items laying out, the bedding area had random stuff left behind (ex; a bracelet, band-aid), and the shower itself had no room to change clothes and had a random toothbrush left out.
We highly recommend spending the extra couple bucks and booking your stay elsewhere in Kobe. We do have to say, though, the complimentary coffee at Nakamura was pretty good!
What did we explore today in Kobe?
Spontaneous walk through the Kusumotoinari Shrine
We intercepted a ceremony at the Kusumotoinari shrine.
Seeing children wrapped up like sushi rolls in kimonos and other formal wear became a photo shoot throughout this whole entire shrine.
It seemed as if we had trampled into the wrong area, because we were dodging photos left and right. This didn’t stop us from seeing the serene qualities of this shine, for it’s spacious enough to accommodate many.
Garrett got stopped multiple times by passerbys to take photos of them. Perhaps its the camera dangling from his neck, but he captures a lot of attention being a head taller than everyone else. After taking photos for a group of people, we felt like part of the ceremony itself.
Japan has been a welcoming invitation for us to explore every nook and cranny available. This experience that came out of nowhere—having not seen it prior to walking right up to it—has been a dream.
We caught a breeze of ocean foam at Harborland
We went to check out the Harborland area and the infamous Kobe port tower.
Shops, restaurants, and cafés dotted the boardwalk. Many people were eating on a patio that towered over the port. You could see cruise ships filled with passengers preparing to depart for a day cruise, and others at rest after a long voyage.
Taking a moment for mindfulness, we sat in the silence of the day. The sun gleamed above the fluffy clouds as we heard the laughter of kids chasing every pigeon within grasp. Relaxing into this time near the ocean gave us some fresh air.
As people came and passed by, we felt the transient nature of life itself. Now our time, we got up and headed for the port tower as seen in the image above. Humankind’s technical skills are amazing when you look at architecture like this. To think we could even develop the knowledge to construct a thing is amazing. What do you think? Maybe it is just another building… surely mindfulness helps us here to see what it really is, behind our every day grind and narrow focus.
We tasted local dishes in the crowds of Chinatown
We witnessed the theme of the streets shift as we navigated toward Nankin-machi—Kobe's Chinatown area. A couple steps in we were swallowed by the crowd, comprised of those mainly from Oriental descent. Following in their wake, we scanned for a cheap place to eat some lunch.
Traditional decorations filled the streets as the aroma of steamed buns and ramen entered our nostrils.
Every couple of steps, restaurant merchants attempted to persuade passersby to enter their stores by twirling around menus and shouting out their lunchtime deals.
Deciding we weren’t into paying a heavy dime for a meal, we went to grab a snack from one of the food stands.
Garrett got some doa sha bao (red bean steamed buns) and Ben got manju, or regular Chinese steamed buns. We grabbed another snack from a different cart, this time gua bao (pork belly in steamed bun) and a chicken-cabbage wrap. All of the food was great, which is exactly why we had to leave before we blew our budget!
We climbed the mountains to meet Nunobiki Falls in its glory
After the hectic streets of Chinatown, we went to visit the Nunobiki Falls. Just a few minutes away from the train station, the falls possessed a natural beauty that was uncompromised by the developing city structure.
We learned that Nunobiki, in conjunction with Kegon and Nachi, are deemed the divine falls, and are prevalent in Japanese art and literature.
From there, we could see gondolas on the Shin-Kobe Ropeway transit to the Nunobiki Herb Garden atop Mount Rokko. While we didn’t want to spend money on the ropeway, it looked like a great option for those with the budget to make it happen.
Watched a reception at Ikuta Shrine
A constant flux of people walked in and out the shrine grounds in synchrony, briefly admiring the shrine itself and then carrying about their business.
Sometimes all it takes is a moment of mindfulness to be fully present, making the most out of the time and experience you have. Not everything need to done the same, or for longer when you have the ability to stay focused at the task at hand, for what needs to be done.
After taking some more photos for some Japanese school girls (per request), we observed the sanctum and what seemed to be some form of reception within.
Not really understanding what was happening, we continued on with our own journey.
After a full day of exploring Kobe, we headed to the train station to get some food. A fast-casual style of eatery offered several styles of noodle dishes to choose from: fried vegetables, onigiri, meat skewers… Bellies full, we headed back to the hostel to relax and get some rest for the next day.
How much did we spend traveling in Kobe?
Food: ¥1666 / $14.66
Transport: ¥1047 / $9.21
Lodging: ¥2315 / $20.37
Total: ¥5028 / $44.24
Did we make our $40 budget today in Kobe?
No, just off the mark.
Pricier lodging in the Kobe area definitely put a dent in our budget. Food portions from the street carts weren't too filling, so we made another stop for dinner, spilling our budget over for the day. Not that it can’t be done—making the budget—because we have all the power to do so, but going with your gut and making sure you’re in line with yourself is always a good move for us.
Until next time!