Sunday, 12 June 2011

The 20 Million Dollar View

Have you ever wanted to see what a population of 20 million people looks like? Well, if you venture to the top of Mt. Rokko in Kobe, Japan you will get a pretty good idea. It is in fact referred to in the tourist brochures as the ’10 million dollar view’ which I think tends to short change it, at only 50 cents per person (hence the title of this blog)…nonetheless it is a very spectacular view. On a recent trip to Kobe with Dave and Cara we decided to make the ascent once again. In our early days in Japan we had headed to the top of the 1000 metre mountain in a small bubble shaped cable car (or ropeway, as they called it here) that gracefully skimmed above the treetops arriving to a fabulous view of downtown Kobe. However this time we thought we would try another vantage point that was said to have an even wider panoramic view taking in both Osaka and Kobe. Rather than travelling upward on a ropeway we were surprised to find a more traditional wooden cable car (what is referred to in Europe as a vernacular) that is pulled along a steep 45 degree track. While the view on the way up wasn’t quite as spectacular, the sharp ascent took us through some thick forest areas. As we moved upward, the increasingly cooling temperature suggested it was certainly going to a lofty vantage point which was soon confirmed upon arrival and we were able to scan our eyes across one of the most condensed population centres in the world. Taking in the vista of the horseshoe shaped bay was quite amazing and for the first time we were able to match what we had seen on maps with the actual scene. It was remarkably quiet, in contrast to the activity below and with the sun beginning to set we enjoyed the sheer scale of the outlook while taking pleasure in spotting familiar landmarks. As we were about to leave we began chatting with a local man who spoke very good English, who claimed that there was an even better vantage point to be had at yet another location …we filed it away for another day.

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