一大清早我們便來到了生田神社。之所以會想造訪生田神社，是因為看了 PTT 上網友介紹，才知道原來『神戶』這地名就是從生田神社而來。既然如此，豈有不走一趟之理。
Our morning starts with a walk to the 生田神社 (Ikita shrine), which is the shrine from which the city Kobe got its name from.
生田神社所祭的是稚日女尊（わか ひる めのみこと）。然而，我從網上查到關於稚日女尊的資料是寥寥可數。事實上，稚日女尊究竟是獨立的神祇，或是天照大神的妹妹，還是天照本人的幼名，就現有文獻還說是無可定論。據『古書記』，稚日女尊在殿中織衣時，素戔嗚尊（亦即須佐之男命）惡作劇將剝了皮的馬丟入殿內。受到驚嚇的稚日女尊不慎遭梭子刺傷陰戶而死。....好特別的死法！＝o＝ 另一說則說那是天照本人，但沒有死只是受傷。
稚日女尊 (Wakahirumenomikoto) is the Goddess this shrine is dedicated to. So...it's not even very clear who Wakahiru is supposed to be. She is either Amaterasu (and Wakahiru is her youth name) herself, or is Amaterasu's sister. Two stories from Japan's ancient mythology relate to her death, both of which are slight variations of how some other naughty god threw a skinned horse through the roof of the house she was weaving in, and, being startled, she either injured herself with the shuttle (but did not die), or the shuttle pierced her vagina causing her to bleed to death (that is some unusual way to die).
第三則相關的神話則與實際歷史有所牽連。西元 201 年，神功皇后征韓歸國，艦隊因天候入不得港，便進行占卜。稚日女尊此時現身道：『我欲在活田長峡国』（此處活田應與生田是同樣的いくだ讀音）。皇后遂令部將海上五十狭茅（這名字見鬼的奇怪）祭祀。這便是生田神社的由來。中世紀時，神戶讀音從『神之戶』(かんべ）漸漸轉為『紺戸』（こんべ），最終成為今日的『神戶』（こうべ）。
The third myth that mentions her name relates to actual historical figures. In year 201, Queen Jingo, upon returning from sea, was unable to dock into the harbor and prayed to the gods for safe passage, upon which Wahahiru appeared and said "I want to live in the land of Ikuta Nagasa", so Queen Jingo asked 海上五十狭茅 (Unagaminoichisa) to host an offering feast. Unagaminoichisa then became the founding priest of what is known as the Ikita shrine today. The name "Kobe" slowly evolved from "The house of the Deity --- 神戸 (Kanbe)" in 9 AD, to "Konbe", then slowly to "Kobe".
So Ikuta shrine is not just any shrine, but one that is deeply connected with the origin of Kobe. It is not only visited by curious tourists, but also by sincere pilgrims (or should I call them prayers?)
I'm not sure how shrines decide whether they have priests or priestesses, but the priestesses at Ikuta Shrine were all quite youthful!
In addition to the main shrine, there're also many other shrines dedicated to other smaller deities. The one that always intrigues me are the Inari foxes (稲荷の狐）.
I just like foxes. They're so cute, haha.
I told my mom I remember Inari foxes like fried tofu, or, more precisely, people offer fried tofu to Inari foxes (they are the messengers of Inari). I had to look it up online later to make sure I was right, and possible explanations include:
- People offered fried tofu to Inari, and it was them mistakenly thought that Inari's fox messengers would like them too.
- People used to use fried rats to capture foxes. But Inari being an agricultural god, offering its messengers fried rats seem inappropriate, so fried tofu instead is used.
- Because the color of fried tofu is similar to the coat of foxes.
Since foxes are omnivores, it's unlikely they will like fried tofu. And man this is making me want some inari sushi...
After Ikuta, we headed north towards the Kitano ward. Another big tourist spot in Kobe are all the former consular and foreign dwellings in Kitano. We started with the two famous houses: the Weathercock house (home of a German merchant) and Meogi house (home of American consul general). They were both decently looking but nothing surprising. After all, the significant of these buildings lie in their preservation of early 20th century Western architecture in Kobe.
兩館門票是六百日圓，相當合理。但接下來我犯了個大錯：我被引誘到荷蘭館內，被說服買了套票 --- 1200 日圓包荷蘭館，丹麥館，和奧地利館。讓我氣憤之處是，這三個通通不是真的歷史遺跡！只不過是事後為了促進觀光，擺了一下有模有樣象徵該國的服飾和家具，就想呼嚨過去！看到奧地利館裡面擺莫札特雕像我都怪氣死了。只能怪我自己沒先做好功課。等到我們走到『真的』異人館套票所，賣票的小姐又很努力跟我推銷一次看完九個地方總共 3100 日圓，當我問到底什麼比較值得看她就說『每個氣氛都不一樣』...但，我也不是沒去過這些國家，看一間屋子也感覺不到什麼。於是我們決定省這趟錢，倒不如再去吃頓好的午餐。
The two houses charged a total of 600 Yen per person, which was reasonable. But then I made a huge blunder. I was lured into the Holland house and bought a triple entrance fee for the Holland house (which was close to a scam, since it was also trying to sell perfume), the Danish house (which wasn't even an historical building! They just put some viking puppets and a fake viking ship in there), and the Austrian house (also another non-historical building that just had pictures of Mozart in it). We left the last three houses with a bad taste in our mouthes, which did not get better when we reached the ticket booth for the remainder of the "real" consulate houses (for England, Germany, etc). The girl at the counter tried very hard to convince me to buy the full package: 9 houses for a total of 3100 Yen. At this point we decided there's nothing in these houses that could possibly make us regret not going there.
We stormed down Kitano in search of lunch, and came across this beautiful restaurant that offered Kobe steak lunch.
原來這是一家才開了兩個月的店，難怪 tabelog 上沒有特別看到。主廚很體貼的接受了我們的請求，只在牛排上撒一滴鹽。脂肪如雪花般細膩地分布著的黑毛和牛，看了讓人食指大動！
From the onset, things looked promising. The chef took our request and did not add any salt to the meat. And the meat already looked tasty in its raw form, with beautiful marbles of fat, hmmmm....
主廚年紀很輕，看我們拍照還特意擺 pose :)
Our chef was very cheerful and also liked to pose for pictures:
So how did the food fare?
完食感想？百分之百的滿意！一人花了 3600 日圓的午餐定食，包含了許多美味的前菜：炸醬麵，冷湯，沙拉。主食附橄欖以及蔬菜魚湯。主食之後，點心還有紅茶，芒果雪酪，以及椰奶酪。樣樣都做得很貼心到味，服務也到家，沒有什麼不好稱讚的。哦，當然身為主角的和牛也是柔軟多汁，不受鹹味掩蓋，完全吃得出本身的甘甜。
It passed with flying colors for both me and my mom! We were absolutely satisfied. Not only was this meal cheaper than yesterday's (~36 USD per person), but they gave us a lot of appetizers: minced meat noodle, cold soup, noodle salad, olives, veggie soup. For dessert, it was mango sorbet and coconut custard with black tea.
Apparently this place has just opened in May. They are clearly trying hard to put out their best. I am for sure going to recommend it on PTT!
I was hoping to get some night view of Kobe in the evening, so we headed out to 六甲山 (Rokkosan). My mom has recently become a plant fanatic because she's been taking tour guide lessons. So we visited the Rokkosan high altitude botanic garden.
The sun had come out earlier in the day and the garden was lush green. Much care had been taken to make this garden both educational and beautiful.
There were flowers blooming:
And weird plants lurking. This is called "Crystal Orchid" in Chinese. It is the size of my pinky finger.
Unfortunately for me, by the time we left the garden, the Rokkosan Pasture had closed. I was going to go there to get cheesecake! If I had known we wouldn't be able to make it, I would've just eaten one when we passed by their shop in Kitano ward :(
We drove to where the cable cars ended and had a good view of the city:
接下來驅車前往摩耶山。無奈此時山中起了濃霧，夜景是一點也看不到了。於是在摩耶旅館 (Hotel De Maya) 吃過義大利料理晚餐（並不推薦，相當平凡無奇），就下山結束旅程。
Our plan was to go to the hotel at nearby 摩耶山 (Mt Maya), eat dinner, then watch the night view there. As we ate a strange Italian dinner at Hotel De Maya, the fog came over and visibility was reduced to 3 feet by the time we came out, so we drove down the mountain and called it a day.
Tomorrow is my visa interview in Osaka. Here's to hoping all goes well.