Kicking it in Kobe
August 14, 2019 9:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Kobe, Japan for the next five days. Today most stores and museums were closed because of the typhoon, so I'm taking this down time to plot the rest of my stay. I'm interested in art, design, infrastructure, disaster preparedness, matcha, and sake. I am celiac and I do not speak Japanese. This is my second time in Japan and my first time in Kobe. Please help me with your local Kobe knowledge!

Things I'm already planning on:

- Takenaka Carpentry Museum (I work in construction and missed this gem on my last trip to Japan)
- Earthquake Memorial Museum (I live in an earthquake-prone region and so I've got a personal interest in this)
- Storage Books (art and design book store -- I am hoping they might have some English stuff, otherwise I'll look at the images)
- Nada Sake District (Planning to drink sake with a local friend and maybe go to the brewery museums)
- Shin Kobe Ropeway
- Day trip to the Miho Museum (was supposed to be today, this might get cut because of time constraints and the typhoon issues)

Things I need help with:
(For reference, I'm staying at Green Hill Urban Hotel, near Shin Kobe Station.)
- A bar not too far from my hotel that will be open tonight where I can drink sake and enjoy dim lighting and an interesting atmosphere -- or at least get out of the house.
- Your favorite tea shop. I love matcha especially but also every other kind of tea. I also love Japanese confectionery served with tea.
- Any particularly stunning contemporary art galleries I need to visit.
- Where to buy a matcha whisk.
- Where to buy a nice handbag. My purse is disintegrating. I'm pretty picky so multiple store options are good. I like well-designed, beautiful, functional objects... and I realize how vague that sounds. Denim, leather, waxed canvas, or something else sturdy and lovely that'll hold regular essentials plus my 10.3" ereader, a scuba diving wrist computer, a small headlamp, some snacks, and a water bottle.
- What website to use to find out more about the weather so I know ahead of time if museums, trains, etc will be closed. I can also have the front desk of my hotel call, but I'd like to be somewhat self-sufficient
- Celiac-friendly places to eat sushi or Kobe beef, or anything really. I've been to Japan before, I know celiac is extremely difficult here, and I have a well-translated restaurant card. Worst case I'll keep eating grocery-store food, but it would be fun if I could have something other than matcha or sake eating out.
- A place to buy nice pens, stationery, and paper
- A place to buy nice scarves or handkerchiefs
- Anything I haven't thought of that has to do with construction, infrastructure, art, or design

Arigatou gozaimasu!
posted by cnidaria to Travel & Transportation around Kobe, Japan (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been to Kobe, but Loft stores have a nice selection of stationery and there's one right by Sannomiya station. They also have bags. For fountain pens and store-exclusive inks, the Nagasawa main store is also near Sannomiya.
posted by sukeban at 11:41 PM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Near the Miho Museum, also in the Shigaraki area, are the Asamiya Tea farms - good quality green tea. Uji Tea from Kyoto is more famous, but these are basically the same farms on the Shiga side of the mountains. That area is tricky to get around without a car, but you can keep an eye out for local Asamiya/Uji Tea, they may even have some at the museum. Shigaraki is also a famous old earthenware pottery village with lots of pottery shops around the local train station area.

Sorry can't help with Kobe much, but living in Shiga, so feel free to drop a PM with any more Shiga questions.
posted by p3t3 at 1:55 AM on August 15, 2019

I haven't been to Kobe, but definitely pop over to Loft. I got a duffel bag at one when I shopped...uh...a lot my last time in Japan and needed souvenir space, and their selection is cute and reasonably priced. Not heirloom quality, but tasteful. Loft ALSO had a good stationery section that I spent way too much money in. I would have taken that whole floor home if I could.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 6:17 AM on August 15, 2019

"The Ember Room" in Kobe is a dimly lit not too loud bar that has some good atmosphere and nice people. More of a cocktail place, but they might help you out. They have a page on FB.
posted by Gotanda at 6:56 AM on August 15, 2019

So I sent this ask to my friend who lives in Nishinomiya and they just got back to me with this:

"Disaster preparedness - there's the Nigawa Yurinocho District Landslide Museum (website is Japanese only, sorry) about a 20 minute walk from Nigawa station on the Hankyu Line. It can be combined with a stroll through the nearby Kabutoyama Forest Park.

If they're going to the Earthquake Memorial and like art, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is right by there. The current exhibit is Japanese Avant-Garde from the '50s-'80s. There are also lots of little galleries in the area if you stroll around a bit.

Design stuff - KIITO Kobe often has interesting events and things, though it doesn't look like there's much going on there this weekend.

Shopping - check out the shoutengai. Starting from the Sannomiya/Flower Road end, Sanbangai has a lot of big chain stores, but as you walk west and cross into the Motomachi shoutengai you encounter a lot more mom and pop stores and places with traditional Japanese stuff.

Underneath the train tracks in Sannomiya and Motomachi is another choice for shopping - there's a narrow labyrinth of shops under there. Cheaper, more unique stuff than you'd find at loft.

There's a gateau chocolat shop called Bonheur in Sannomiya that is all gluten free.

There's a vegan place called Thallo that has a gluten free menu. I don't know about sushi or beef, though.

I think that's the most of my relevant knowledge, hope it helps!"
posted by emmling at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2019

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