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Japan Hour

Road Trip on Kobe Electric Railway (Part 2)

A famous hair salon in Kobe, a heritage spot and temple linked to Sanda Domain's feudal lord and his family, and a popular cake shop known for its colourful desserts are featured this week.

Our two-day journey on the Kobe Electric Railway in Hyogo Prefecture continues. On Day One, we started at Minatogawa Station and spent the night at a hotel in Arima Onsen. On the second day, we visit Mount Rokko by cable car and have lunch at Yamagaki near Okaba Station. A person at the station suggests we visit a famous hair salon called Musee. It has nine stores in Kita Ward, Kobe City and participates in various activities to revitalise the city. It has also a free magazine called "Kobe Beautiful Girl Pictorial Book", which features local girls as models. Two of the hairstylists are brothers and their father owns the salon. 

We return to Okaba Station, located along Kobe Electric Railway’s Shintetsu Sanda Line. We hop on the 1.25pm train and head to Shintetsu Dojo Station. We meet an 86-year-old forester who is chopping firewood for boiling bath water. He tells us there is nothing much to see in this area. So we decide to go to Yokoyama, the neighbouring station, by the 2.05pm train. 

A resident we speak to mentions the house where Sanda Domain’s Kuki clan used to live. The Kuki noble family worked for Japanese warriors Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The residence is now a museum where people can learn about Sanda’s history. When we reach the building, however, we find out that the Kuki residence is closed on this particular day. So we ask another local, who suggests the Shingetsuin Temple, which belongs to the Kuki family and where the family members have been buried. As it is about 20 minutes away by foot, the local resident offers to drive us there. 

The temple was built by the Kuki feudal lord in 1633, during the early Edo period. This main temple gate was taken from Arima Onsen Goten where Toyotomi Hideyoshi used to stay. In the past, people were not allowed to see the Kuki family’s graves, but now the space is open to the public. We get to see the grave of the last feudal lord Takashi Kuki, as well as those of the various lords’ wives. Interestingly, one tombstone has English words on it. We are told this family member was baptised and became a Christian. It is the only such grave in this Buddhist-style graveyard.

After this, the resident who drove us to Shingetsuin takes us to a cake shop called Saint An. It has been around for more than 30 years and is popular among the locals for its colourful desserts such as shortcakes, puddings and cream puffs. 

We head back to Yokoyama and take the train at 4.05pm. We arrive at the goal of our trip, Sanda Station, after five minutes. Our final stop is another recommended restaurant, Sankaku Shokudo, which opened in the Taisho period. It started off as a small eatery when it was established in 1924 and is now loved by the locals for its humble and reasonably priced dishes. Popular items include the udon set meal and rice bowl. It serves different types of udon and we pick the champon udon, as well as the pork cutlet rice bowl. This hearty meal is the perfect end to our two-day journey on the Kobe Electric Railway.


1)    Visit the Kuki residence and Shingetsuin Temple near Sanda Station to learn about the town’s history
2)    Shortcakes are among the popular desserts at the Saint An confectionery store


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