The history of Kobe is closely tied to that of the Ikuta Shrine, and the name "Kobe" derives from "kanbe" , an archaic name for those who supported the shrine. During World War II, Kobe was bombed with incendiary bombs by B-29 bombers on March 17, 1945, causing the death of 8,841 residents and destroying 21% of Kobe's urban area. There were 6 other bombing raids on the city during WWII.
Following continuous pressure from citizens, on March 18, 1975, the Kobe City Council passed an ordinance banning vessels carrying nuclear weapons from Kobe Port. This effectively prevented any U.S. warships from entering the port, as a result of US policy being not to disclose whether any warship was carrying nuclear weapons.
On January 17, 1995 an earthquake measuring at 7.3 on the Richter magnitude scale occurred at 5:46 am JST near the city. Nearly 4,600 people in the city were killed, 212,443 were made homeless, and large parts of the port facilities and other parts of the city were destroyed. The earthquake destroyed portions of the Hanshin Expressway, an elevated freeway that dramatically toppled over. In Japan, the earthquake is known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake (or the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake).
We walked up to the Kitano, and visited a number of the temples there as well as taking in the view over Kobe. Kitano-cho or Kitano Ijinkan is a historical district in Kobe, Japan, which contains a number of foreign residences from the late Meiji and early Taisho eras of Japanese history.
While the term ijinkan can refer to any foreign residence of this period in Japan, it usually refers to those of Kitano given the number and high concentration of those that remain. Ijinkan districts exist in other locales (notably Yokohama and Nagasaki), but due to war and natural disasters, these districts are not as well preserved. The western style architecture looked oddly out of place in these Japanese surroundings.
Temples are numerous in Japan, and are frequented by the Japanese in large numbers. They write prayers and hang them up on cords in the grounds of the temples.
Here you see a schoolgirl adding her prayer to thousands already there
We came across these impressive flower "paintings" on a street. The whole street was closed, and outlines of designs put down. These outlines were then filled in with tens of thousands of flower petals of differing colours, and the result was ..
..complete designs on particular themes. You can see here the series of completed designs being displayed on these placards.
A walk past Kobe rail station and a look at a Bullet Train took us eventually to the cable car station - given that the street signs and our map were in Japanese, there were a number of practical difficulties in finding the cable car, but a local put us on a bus, which got us there.
The cable car took us up Mount Maya, and to an interesting different world. On a whim we took a local bus. You just got on and paid when you got off. The fact that is was all in Japanese script added an extra frisson.
We got off at the first sign of any habitation, and it turned out to be a "zoo". But the only animals were sheep and a few horses. The Japanese visitors, and there were thousands of them, seemed very taken by sheep. I assume that normally they never see them. Here are two girls getting up close and personal with a couple of woolly jumpers.
We wandered on a bit further to this lake, then took the bus, with some difficulty, back to the cable car, and hence down to Kobe. And aboard for the next stop at Tokyo.
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