2023 Kobe Marathon Trip

Introduction: Last year, I was able to finish my first marathon in Japan. I thought my bucket list is checked and done but changed my mind that I should go places and do many of them as long as I am healthy to have memorable moments in my life. Kobe is a city I visited many times, and even spend almost 6 months so it's time to give another perspective in my memory.

2023/11/18: Going to Kobe, Check-in

To Kobe

Waking up at 5:30am as usual, stretched my body and took a shower. I have about 2 hours before leaving. These days, the train schedules are often disrupted so I pushed my schedule ahead than originally planned.

Kachigawa - Nagoya 8:42am - 9:02am

Headed out my apartment with a roller bag and a backpack to catch a local train to Nagoya, I get to the platform in time and I hopped on the one just came in. The train left at 8:42am and moved on schedule, arriving at Nagoya under cloudy sky at 9:02am.

Nagoya - Shin-Kobe Nozomi 13 9:26am - 10:29am

Walking down to the hallway, moved to the gate for Shinkansen. It's been nearly 4 years since the last time I used the bullet train. I quit travelling on trains after COVID began spreading around. I waited for my train to come. It was rather chilly if I do not move, and there are many people on the platform, they walk into the cars in about 2 minutes timing while many more coming out from the same cars. I get on Nozomi 13 which came in 3 minutes behind the schedule and took a seat. The person next to me must be travelling quite long hours now, I can see the newspaper is done reading, and PET bottle is almost empty.

Nozomi 13

The train moved toward west, I can tell the wind is strong today. The announcement inside the cabin showing some train operations are suspended due to the strong wind. I expected the wind up to 10m/s at Kobe as well. As the train speed towards the destination with constant humming like wind noise I can hear, making brief stops at Kyoto, Shin-Osaka then arrived at Shin-Kobe just a few minutes after 10:29am that is the original time. I can tell some of the people getting off here are for the marathon because of their shoes and wears.

A view from Shin-Kobe station, there must be some rain earlier

To Marathon Expo

I came to Kobe a day before the race since check-in is required. Just a week ago I did not expect today to be such windy and cold day, so I want to reach the hotel as soon as possible as well.

Shin-Kobe - Sannoymiya - Shiminhiroba

After exiting from JR train station, I took a couple of long escalators down to the underground level to use a city subway to Sannomiya. When I took a seat, I had a few minutes before 10:42am departure. The train looked new, and this kind began introduced in 2019 so no reason I do not know about. The train moved smoothly and arrived at the destination.

Subway train at Shin-Kobe

After getting off the subway train, I had to go to the ground level once, pass thru the JR train station to the south side of the complex.

Now I need to use Kobe Portliner to the Expo hall, when I go up there was a vending corner selling marathon commemorative ticket for 700Yen. If I make three trips, that's 750Yen so it is not a bad deal so I grabbed it. I then realized that if I fail to start or finish tomorrow, I will lose 200 Yen. They meant business.

At 10:51am, I pass the gate for Portliner. One just left so I have to wait for the next one. The tram system on the Portliner is fully automated transport so there is no driver onboard. There weren't many people onboard, and I believe this is my first time using it. The ride was smooth, and I can see the Kobe skylines as the tram approaches to Port Island. It has made a couple of stop before arriving at Shiminhiroba station.

I can see the skylines of Kobe from here

After getting off the tram, I followed the signs for marathon check-in. It was a quick process then moved to extra area of the building where I can try my luck on drawing which I ended up a sticker. I bought a commemorative shirt and it was it. Now I want to eat lunch.


Going back to Sannomiya

After walking out from the building, I saw a food court setup but did not want to eat small so I pass it on. I can even feel the rain drops. I reached the gate for Portliner at 12:02pm. This time there is more people onboard since they must have finished registration like me and I can see the tram coming this way is clearly more crowded.

I come back to Sannomiya, walked around with my bags and I was a little getting tired of it. I walked to the west and found a noodle shop names Kobe Nadahachi. I ordered Bokkake Mazesoba Special. The wind outside was blowing hard so warm noodles kept me warm. I finished it quickly and decided to take a walk a little more.

Lunch at 12:41pm at Kobe Nadahachi

Next stop was a monument to commemorate the first marathon held in Japan, which is at Kobe, coincidentally.

Birthplace of Marathon in Japan

I wanted to visit places I have been in Kobe before checking in at the hotel. The bag is now a headache for me. So after coming back to Sannoymiya, I look for a place to drop off my bag but there was none, so I moved to Motomachi station and I found a subway one have some lockers available so I put 300 Yen and left. Took a train to Hyogo, to check out the place where I have used to be around, the hotel was still in operation but the pork cutlet place was closed last summer. The time changes everything.

After the short walk, I took a train to Kobe station where I can walk along seaside. I checked out Kobe Port Tower, a new monument BE KOBE in Meriken Park area. There is a small corner of exhibit about the big earthquake in 1995. The sun started to coming down and the temperature is coming down as well. If I walk 20 more minutes, I can get to the hotel so I have decided to do that. It's almost 3:00pm so I hope the hotel would let me check in early.

To Hotel, Preparing for the race

I have arrived at the hotel after 3:00pm, I walked too many steps today. I took a break then walked to the Motomachi station to pick up my bag as well as some water for the night to keep me hydrated. I then walked out after 5:00pm. Stopped by at Sannomiya station to buy gifts so I do not have to buy stuff in a hurry after finishing the race tomorrow, then took a train back to Motomachi, before returning to the hotel, I had a rice and curry at a nearby restaurant around 5:30pm. The outside was pretty cold so the spices of the curry heated me up. Before returning to the hotel, I decided to try Beijing duck piece sold on the street. I come back to the hotel, took a hot shower, put myself  into the bed around 9:00pm then somehow I fell sleep, going back to sleep again after 11:00pm.

Beijing Duck

Night time at Nanking machi, China town in Kobe 

2023/11/19: Marathon Day, returning to Nagoya

To the starting point

I woke up at 5:30am as usual, I turned on the lights and opened up the window to check the air temperature outside. It was not that cold so I will go with a pair of shorts and with a windbreaker on the top for the race. I had hard time stretching my body in the tight room but I think I am good to go. I packed belongings and checked out at 7:30am, asked the clerk to keep my bag until the evening. I walked out the hotel, decided to walk to the starting point rather than taking a train


It was about 20 minutes walk to the park near the assembly area to drop off my bag, I fed myself extra calories and handed my bag to a staff by the designated truck around 8:20am, stopped by at restroom then walked toward the grid. It was about 8:50am already so they will be closing the area soon.

I lined up for the race, it was a wonderful feeling before the race, under sunny sky with less wind. A ceremony was completed and the race was started on time at 9:00am.

Marathon route

First Half

The second wave started at 9:15am just, and I walked to the starting line among with other people. Started out and began heading west, passing by Nanking-Machi, Kobe station, to north side of Shin-Nagata where Tetsijin 28 monument is located, kept going along JR line and joining on Route 2 where already the top runners are at 30km mark and returning toward Kobe. There is a bridge I had to climb near Tarumi, and now I can see Akashi Kaikyo Bridge at Maiko,

Second Half

After reaching the turnaround just off Nishi-Maiko station, I now heading toward east. I was getting hot so I took off my windbreaker. I did not want to throw it away because I know there is a chance that wind could pick up. The road is now reconfigured so two lanes are available to my side, just like I was coming this way. At the merging point with Route 2, I kept going straight and reaching Wada Misaki from here, changed the direction toward north, entering Kobe Harborland, now going up the ramp no Route 2 bypass which is told 10m raise over 150m. There are a lot of people already gave up and walking but I managed to run up. Now turning toward Port Island, getting off the ramp and making a few more turns before the final straight. There was Yuko Arimori who is a former marathon Olympian welcoming runners back at the last.


After crossing the finish line, I received a banana a packed water, finisher's towel then finally a medal. I continue walking to the building to claim my bag. Although I am not in the last pack there are a lot of bags still. I received a boiled egg on my way out. I just wanted to go home because I know I was fatigued. I put my warm up cloth back on, headed to Portliner station. I was at behind of long line at 3:15pm, and took me another 15 minutes to get on the train in packed extremely condition. The tram moved smoothly and toward left side, I can see the last runner going toward the finish line, as well volunteers and staffs.  I got off at Sannomiya at 3:45pm. I dragged my foot and bag down to JR station, hopped on the first local train toward west around 3:55pm, getting off at Motomachi station so I was back at the hotel just after 4:00pm.

Coming home

I come back to the hotel, picked up my bag and headed back to the train station again. I really wanted to drink a coke so stopped by at a convenience store. This time I have ticket to Kachigawa so I pass it thru the machine and walked up the platform. The sun was getting low and seeing the light reflected on the platform is such a calm moment.

Motomachi - Shin-Osaka 4:16pm - 4:50pm

Let's go home

There is a local train on eastbound leaving at 4:16pm so I hopped on to Sannomiya, and two minutes later I got off the train and walked across the platform to the other side. I connected to 4:22pm departure Special-rapid train so I can get to Shin-Osaka in less than 30 minutes. I could find a seat to sit. I watched outside as the train moves toward east. It was somewhat familiar sight, seen many times. After crossing the Yodo river, the train arrived at Osaka station, and I got off at the next stop which is Shin-Osaka, arriving at 4:50pm.

Shin-Osaka - Nagoya Nozomi 38 5:06pm - 5:55pm

Now I can catch a bullet train around 5:00pm. There were long lines for the ticket but some of them are shorter so I waited for 10 minutes then I have a seat. The Nozomi 38 leaves at 5:06pm so I'd better hurry up. The passenger in front of me not passing thru the tickets properly and she tried it three time, then forced her way to the platform. I don't know what's up with her. After the loss time, I pulled my bag up to the platform and I made it just in time.

I took a seat and finally relaxing. This time the next passenger is another guy with Surface tablet kept checking on SNS. Since I had a window side seat, I watched outside's view speeding towards Nagoya, and pulled out my protein bars I was wanting to eat since the finish. By the time when the train arrives at Nagoya at 5:55pm, the outside was completely dark. It's before 6:00pm but I guess it's is winter.

Nagoya - Kachigawa 6:01pm - 6:20pm

I was lucky to catch a local train bound for Kozoji leaving at 6:01pm because the next one is another 5 minute wait, which is hard on my brain at current condition. The train moved in less congested condition, and I got off from the train arriving at Kachigawa 20 minutes later. Later I earned the train suspended operation at 7:30pm because of an accident at a crossing, which happens often these days like I wrote in the beginning. I did not have meal before departure and it turned out to be a good choice.

After returning home, I did grocery shopping to gather materials for the dinner, took a hot shower as I wash all the laundry from the trip. I stayed up until 10:00pm then went to bed. It's time for recovery. I have day offs from work until Tuesday afternoon.

Medal and Towel

Cost:  47,660Yen

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