Children of Reiwa.

Detailing on a danjiri (cart).  Danjri have many ornamental craft-works.  Including carvings which depict famous battle scenes from the Samurai period, or Shinto myths, Chinese legends and such.

Where young men stand who will pull the Danjiri.  The poles they lean against are lashed together.

A danjiri prepares to move.  Inside the cart are drummers and percussion musicians.

The different danjiri came from towns between Kobe and Ashiya.  Over  the following week each danjiri would tour their home cities.  All part of the celebrations to mark a changing of eras.

From the roof of Japan Railway (JR) Osaka railway station.

On the phone in Osaka.

Kobe is a port with a long history of trading. The city is situated  on a headland of Osaka Bay facing the Seto Inland Sea. The Seto Sea connects three main islands of Japan plus many smaller ones. It has had water traffic for thousands of years.  Kobe and Osaka were the main hubs for internal and coastal trading within Japan.

This meant Kobe was able to gather, then trade, a range of sought after Japanese goods to other countries.  And visa versa.  Trading with China, Korea and east Asia.

After the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United States in 1858, the government made Kobe an ‘International Port’.

Parts of Kobe became Foreign Settlement Areas, or Mixed Settlement Areas where foreigners could live and mingle with Japanese.

European, American and Asian business opened in these areas.  Among them hospitality, including coffee houses, western style confectionery, bakeries, eateries, bars and other specialists stores.  Some of which are still trading.

Chinatown, in Motomachi, Kobe.  Best street food for meat eaters.

The blue bollard sign, bottom right, is for UCC Coffee.  UCC is Japan’s giant of coffee, they are based in Kobe.  They own and manage coffee plantations all over the world.

Coffee Stand Roasters, Motomachi.

Coffee Stand Roasters is the home of Lima Coffee Rosters, suppliers of coffee around Kobe.

Interior of Coffee Stand Roasters.

San Francisco based, Blue Bottle Coffee in Motomachi, Kobe.

Blue Bottle making excellent cappuccino. In this case a Ethiopian Highland blend.

Blue Bottle Interior.

Hokodo tearooms in Kobe. Hokodo sell Japanese tea.  Originally from Kyoto they moved to Kobe after it became an International Port so they could export Japanese tea.  They carry a fine selection, including Uji-cha and tea selections from different areas in Japan

In 1887 they opened the Hokodo coffee house.

Hokodo coffee-house exterior, next to their tearooms in Motomachi.

Hokodo source and roast their own beans.  Their house-blend has not changed from when they started.  A blend of India’s best arabica coffee beans.  The roasted coffee is hand ground.

The setting at Hokodo coffee.  The food offering is 4 sweet treats.  Hokodo is a ‘Great’ coffee house.

Kobe and its environs has a very high standard of coffee generally, central Kobe especially.  The international variety of coffee beans and different types of coffee styles, all in one place, makes Kobe unique.

Tenjo river in Okamoto.  Okamoto was the meeting place of  50 danjiri (human drawn carts) which had gathered together to mark the changing of Emperor.

The change of Emperor also means a change of era.  In May 2019 the era changed from Heisei to Reiwa.

Five concluding notes on Keihanshin hospitality and its coffee culture.


1. In Keihanshin, filter coffee is king and it is done well.  There is a wide range of blends and single origins from everywhere in the world. Many plantations are owned, managed or have long term contracts with local coffee businesses.

2. There exists long standing coffee-houses with singular character and their own ways.

3. Japanese sensibility respects people who do one thing repeatedly, with the aim of doing it better.  This has happened with coffee houses.

4. Amongst the range of hospitality are tiny restaurants.

5.  A way of living from the shadows of Hanshinkan Modernism.

Backing out at Narita (NRT). Returning home.


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