Kitano-Chou, Part 1
※ This article discusses the 28th of December 2016.
Kitano Chou is a district of Kobe City featuring many houses of foreigners. So individual houses represent the housing traditions of a certain culture. European cultures are represented the most, because the Dutch were the first foreigners arriving at Kobe.
First, we made our way to Kitano Street. This street is often pictured, because several houses at this street can be found in one line and their country’s associated flag hangs outside. It also helped us for orientation, because overview maps are given at several intersections. Martina lost interest. She is not interested in sightseeing that much, was hungry and European houses are especially boring. I tried to convince her to check out the British House and the Austrian house. Then I would be willing to go home.
The British House features a pub design with many comfortable chairs. Whiskey is represented by a wide range of bottles and the other major theme was Sherlock Holmes. As an adolescent, I was a big fan of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I recognized the references in the exhibited items. In the garden, they even built a tube station, because Great Britain had the first underground railway system in history. An old car was also shown and visitors could dress up in Sherlock Holmes clothing (a brown, checked clothing and cap).
Visiting every individual house at Kitano-Chou seems to cost 500 Yen. This is ridiculously expensive in my opinion. Every house is simply an exhibition of some items. They also don’t feel necessarily authentic. The houses are tiny as in Japanese tiny. So I had to take care of my head and the staircases (or alike) are very narrow. I guess I need to consider that most visitors are Japanese, but 500 Yen seems awful lot to me. I think a price like 1500 Yen for all houses would be more fair, but I didn’t check the options in detail. Kobe University gave us a Kobe pass, which allowed us to enter these houses without paying anything. In the following I didn’t care to consider it further.
The Austrian House is uphill. Briefly we saw the Weathercock House, which in my opinion is the most interesting house at Kitano-Chou. In front of this building, a juggler and a magician were performing. Martina took photos of me with the saxophone player statue.
The major theme of the Austrian House is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Whenever someone asks me for famous people from Austria, I think of Mozart first:
Me: Osutoria… Europe
Me: No kangaroos
Jap: Ah, no kangaroos
Me: But Mozart
Back to the house: The nine federal states are represented with nine flags. Sissi and Franz are shown. Traditional garment is visible in a glass case and upstairs (accessible through a different building), Mozart has a dedicated room. I should mention images show the Vienna Boys' Choir and bedding traditions are also explained. "Servus" is mentioned as "unique Austrian welcome".
Afterwards we headed back home to make some food. Overall experience? Kitano-Chou is boring, especially for Martina, and the hike was nice. We need to extend it next time.
You want to know one funny thing about my Kitano experience? In my last Kanji class I was sitting for 3 minutes just thinking about which Kanji is associated to houses. The answer is 家 , but I could not come up with it. Being in Kitano-Chou, famous for its foreign houses, guess which Kanji I could find all over the place 😉