Four hours in Kobe, Japan

Kobe gave me delightful surprises in just hours.

Carp darted in the calm shallow ponds flanking the trail around Sorakuen Garden. The silence, only intermittently punctuated by the soft trill of the creek, or the crunch of leaves underfoot felt blissful. I walked the trail clockwise, savoring each step, each inhale and exhale of breath.

The stillness of the garden and the harmony in its design was delightful. I felt my shoulders lighten.

Carp, with iPhone by Aloha Lavina.


I had been in Kobe for three days already, leading a workshop at a school and this last morning was the only time I had to see some of the city before flying back to Zagreb.

It was a Saturday, so I wandered around the center of town earlier that morning and stumbled upon this wonderful pair of buildings.


I continued walking and found myself in the Kitano-cho, streets of stately houses in the Hyogo Perfecture. It turned out that I was heading toward the Sorakuen Garden, which is in the Hyogo area, in the middle of a neighborhood.

Not having planned the itinerary at all for those free morning hours, I was delighted to spend a couple of hours in Sorakuen Garden. It was literally, a zen moment for me.

Sorakuen, with iPhone by Aloha Lavina.
Autumn leaves detail in Sorakuen Garden with iPhone by Aloha Lavina.


Tree monochrome at Sorakuen Garden with iPhone by Aloha Lavina.

The couple hours spent walking and breathing in Sorakuen Garden brought me a sense of balance I hadn’t felt in months. It was late October, and since the previous spring, I had traveled for work non-stop, moved countries, and started a new job in a country I’d never been. Needless to say, my shoulders had a bit of tension in them.

Taking in the harmonies of the garden and using the iPhone photography as a meditation to becoming open to harmony brought a quiet catharsis. Something clenched tightly within my heart let go, the knots loosened.

Later, I walked in search of a coffee and found myself on a walking street, hearing the unmistakable plaint of a violin. I followed the melody and found a string ensemble playing for the public. I joined the crowd, basking in the music with families, children eating corn on the cob swaying slightly to the rhythm, groups of elderly men and women smiling, their arms linked.

Kobe sparkles in my memory like a small, precious gem that I take out once in a while to treasure. This small and unpretentious place gave me back peace in the serendipity of a few hours.

It is still on my travel list.

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