Day 13: January 30
In the morning, we took the shinkansen from Kyoto station to Himeji station. I had wanted to visit Himeji on my previous trip to Japan, but Himeji castle was under renovation (it has been quite common during every trip that something I want to visit is under renovation so it gets postponed for future trips!). Thankfully Himeji-jou (Himeji Castle) full re-opened in 2015. It is one of the country’s few original castles and considered one of, if not the most, beautiful. From the station, it is a 15-20 minute walk through the main city centre to the castle grounds.
The crowds at Himeji-jo are substantial and moves as a line into the castle. As with most castles, it is not so pleasant to shuffle up and down the narrow stairs inside in single file.
After visiting the castle, we walked back through the city centre to get lunch before returning to the train station. For lunch, we had simple oden lunch sets at Shusentei Nadakiku Kappatei, since local oden is a Himeji specialty.
We then took the shinkansen from Himeji station to Shin-Kobe station. It was also my first time in Kobe, where I only wanted to spend half a day to wander around and eat Kobe beef! We made our way down to the port area, stopping at a number of shrines along the way. It’s a really nice city and I can see why it’s considered one of the most “attractive” cities. That small taste of Kobe makes me want to visit again, especially to go up to Mt Rokko.
As mentioned, the prime reason for the stopping by Kobe was to have some Kobe beef! I decided against making specific reservations because it was difficult to pick somewhere early enough to get a reservation and the prices were mostly astronomical, especially after having the other expensive Michelin meal (and since I don’t like meat in the form of steak). We decided to just wing it. I think it ended up being a good decision because we didn’t want to go all out and decide it wasn’t worth it. We looked around a bit and settled on a moderately priced restaurant, Kobe Beef Kurosawa, with a range of cuts to choose from. It was empty the whole time, but it was an amazing meal and we were very happy with what we paid. We both had A5, and at a guess mine was sirloin and T’s was flank/bottom sirloin. They came in sets and ranged from ¥9,000-¥11,000 for 120-180g. I couldn’t imagine paying double or more. The meat was divine but it was too much meat for me, and even T thought it was hard to handle so much fatty meat by the end. A few bites would have been enough for me, hehe.
After dinner we went out to the other side of the harbour to see views of the city, then trekked all the way back to Shin-Kobe station to take the shinkansen back to Kyoto.