I finally made it to Japan, for the first time! And I’m not disappointed. The rumours are true: Japan is truly amazing. More precisely, I went to the city of Kobe 神戸.
At the time of writing, I am already bound to leave in two days. But first things first: how did I get here?
I study at KU Leuven (University) in Belgium, which has a partnership with Kobe University in Kobe, Japan. Kobe University organises yearly summer courses for foreigners to improve their Japanese. It is only open to students at these partner universities, and on top of that, a maximum of two students are allowed to enter from each university. Candidates apply at their home university and are selected based on results and motivation.
This two-week summer course started on 3 July and all 22 participants stay at a hotel near Kobe Station, which is extremely handy as it is close to much of the “cool stuff” in Kobe, such as Harbor Land and it allows us to simply hop on a train and be on our way to somewhere else. We take a train each day to Rokkōmichi, after which we go about 100m up the hill on which Kobe Uni’s Rokkōdai Campus is situated. This can be done by bus, but I chose the option with the most physical exercise — sweat comes included free of charge — for budgetary reasons 😏 ¥.
Short remark about trains in Japan: yes, they’re timely (though I’ve been in one train with a delay of about two minutes, which felt terribly long for Japan’s doing), clean and they do get full sometimes, but it’s nothing extraordinary. There are lots of them so if you miss one, there’s usually no need to worry. Stations are more functional than pretty, but everything is built for maximum safety and order. One example is how a digital recording of a bird chirp sounds sporadically above the stairs, so even blind people can easily hear which way to go off the platform.
People are as polite as can be, although a very small number still seem to feel a bit uneasy with foreigners. There is also barely any garbage whatsoever thrown on streets or sidewalks; the latter of which are not as ubiquitous as one would expect: especially narrow, hilly roads are usually only fitted with a white line along which walkers and cyclists alike are expected to proceed. People also quite consistently walk on the left and as a Belgian who is used to
walking on the right chaos, this took some getting used to.
And finally, about the Kobe University campus where this course takes place, Rokkōdai 六甲大. In short: it’s huge. It definitely has a city-feel to it, it’s just more of a village size. Suffice to say that there are multiple cafeterias and a two shops, one of which is a 24/7 convenience store. It’s quite impressive when compared to KU Leuven, the campuses of which all blend in into the city. Rokkōday stretches over an area near Rokko Mountain (六甲山 rokkōsan) from 100m above sea-level up until an altitude of 300m.
That’s all for today’s post, thanks for reading!