Posted by: grantmiho | April 13, 2011

One Week of Peace in Kobe

With the continual stress of radiation in the air and water, we were able to spend the past week in Kobe, which is in western Japan. Thanks to our generous hosts at Kobe Union Church, we had the joy of staying up on the mountain in a large home owned by a British professor. After keeping Allie from going outside as much as possible, it was fantastic to freely walk, explore, and enjoy the city and beach.

1995 Kobe Earthquake Memorial

Ironically, we escaped from one disaster area only to visit a memorial to a disaster that happened in Kobe 16 years ago! This part of the harbor was kept intact of what it looked like after that major earthquake which killed over 6,000 people. Yet, we felt completely safe there at the present moment. On Thursday night, there was a 7.1 earthquake that woke up many people even as far as Tokyo, though it barely reached Kobe and we didn’t feel anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting the most charming Starbucks ever!

 

On the north side of Kobe, there is a large foreigner district with homes from the 1800s. You can tour these historic homes of British, American, Danish, etc. We stumbled across a Starbucks that is in one of these older homes, which reminded us somewhat of Kennedy’s home in Brookline, MA. Most Starbucks in Japan are quite small with limited seating, but this was ridiculously spacious with tons of rooms and comfy chairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Hanami"- Allie enjoying the Cherry Blossom Viewing

 

One week each year, cherry blossoms (Sakura) come into bloom. All sorts of companies create seasonal sakura-flavored treats, such as Kit-Kat, Starbucks special mocha, Sakura wine, etc. People travel all over to enjoy a picnic watching these trees in full bloom. We happened to be in Kobe during this beautiful brief moment. For many Japanese, these trees display amazing beauty but is fleeting, like life. Along the Shukugawa River, there were literally thousands of people, temporary food stalls selling yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers), takoyaki (octopus balls- similar to hush puppies), and other treats.

Our week flew by, but was a trip we will always remember. Perhaps given our current situation, the simple act of getting away and enjoying up nature and exploring a new city was truly refreshing for our spirits. However, we were welcomed home with a 6.0 earthquake (probably 3-4 scale in our area) upon walking inside our gate. Before we could unlock our front door, we saw the church sign swaying and felt the cement rumble underneath us. Within the next 24 hours, we must have experienced at least 4 more major aftershocks. As you might have read, this has resulted in the government raising the nuclear situation a level-7, on par with Chernobyl’s rating! We felt an urge to get back on the train and enjoy more peace in Kobe. It is unclear if and when things will get better here, but we are walking by faith one day at a time. The radiation in the air is dropping slowly each day. But, water is still scarce and we also worry that stores are still selling vegetables from the affected areas, meaning we might be eating some radiation!

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