Translated by Lester Somera
Dash Through The Streets Of Kobe With The Cyclo Taxi!
Cyclo Taxi is a service using bicycles to get around the city of Kobe. Giovanni, who operates Cyclo Taxi, has guided us in a tour around Kobe's exotic streets.
Written by Osawa Kumi
Cyclo Taxi uses bicycles to get around town, as you might see in Southeast Asia. We have Giovanni, Cyclo Taxi’s operator, guiding us around Kobe's exotic streets.
Giovanni has been a Kobe tour guide for ten years. On this day he came to meet us at the JR Sannomiya Station.
We met at the taxi loading area around the south side of the station. Arriving at the station to find such a wonderful vehicle awaiting you… doesn’t the mere thought of it excite you? The seat is 95 centimeters wide, and is fully equipped with anti-shock cushions and the like. The vehicle’s rider comfort is unparalleled. The frame of the taxi was renovated from materials lying around at the ryokan “Eihōkaku” in Eimi City, Toyama Prefecture. If your suitcase is small, you can put it on the footrest.
This time, we will introduce the one-hour route (a sixty-minute journey costs 6000 yen) from JR Sannomiya Station up to Meriken Park, where you can see the ocean. More detailed instructions about how to make reservations can be found at the end of the article. First, you will leave the station heading towards Sannomiya crossing, one of Kobe’s largest intersections. It’s a bit of a strange feeling to be dashing through the streets while sitting down.
If you look over the pedestrian bridge, this is the bustling intersection. The building on the left is JR Sannomiya Station. The building in the middle is the Mint Kobe building, and on the immediate right is Sogō Kobe.
The driver is right behind you on the Cyclo Taxi, so we asked him about the city of Kobe and about the bike. Feel free to ask the fashionable Giovanni any questions you might have.
You will turn right at the Mediterrasse, a fashion building with a southern French motif, and enter Tor Road.
Kobe has a lot of Western architecture, but there is also this Shintō shrine along Tor Road. It is a bit of a tight fit to get in, but Sannomiya Shrine has an ancient history.
Kobe Daimaru is located diagonally from Sannomiya Shrine. Targeted towards foreign customers, it offers special coupons and free Wi-Fi, plus English and Japanese interpreters. You can find more information here.
Kobe has many venues for wedding ceremonies and hotels equipped with ceremonial halls, so this is a popular area for weddings. On this day, we glimpsed a new bride taking photographs.
It’s a little far from the main route, but this is the Former Kobe Foreign Settlement No. 15, which was built about 135 years ago. It is a great spot to take pictures. At present, the building is occupied by a restaurant. The taxi’s red seating and the blue window frames of the building match and form a very Kobe-esque tableau.
When you go past Daimaru, you will see the east gate of Kobe’s Chinatown district, “Chouanmon.” With its many foreign merchants, Kobe has a Chinatown to rival other cities with large Chinese towns, such as Yokohama and Nagasaki.
Next, we will enter Otsunakadōri. Once a prosperous street thanks to its handling of maritime cargo, it now has a trendy vibe with accessory stores and cafes coming in to revive the retro buildings. This street is becoming a new hotspot in Kobe.
Once you get through Otsunakadōri, you will head from the heavily-trafficked National Route 2 to the Meriken Wharf. As the salty scent of the ocean starts to waft through the air, you will feel how close it is.
This is the last stop: we have arrived at Meriken Park. A park that was built to fill up the space between the wharf and the breakwater, it is a beautiful scenic spot representative of Kobe.
The Cyclo Taxi has capacity for two passengers, so your fellow rider can take pictures like this.
One of the great things about Cyclo Taxi is being able to enjoy talking with the driver. Also, it is fun to greet people in the city while on the taxi. First we felt a little embarrassed, but once we got used to it, it was really fun, and once we got off the taxi we wanted to go again. In this picture, you can see the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel in the back.
We arrived at just the right evening hour to catch this spectacle. On the opposite shore, you can see the shape of Kobe Harborland. The night view from either side is beautiful, so why not enjoy a Kobe night after you get off the taxi?
This is Giovanni, otherwise known as Seiji Kakuda, who was kind enough to be our guide. He speaks excellent English, and is a cheerful character who loves people. You can enjoy Kobe’s sights, your first experience with a Cyclo Taxi, and the pleasure of Giovanni’s company. We also received a message from him: “Enjoy the Cyclo Taxi and the city’s amusements!” One last thing: you might be wondering, why is Mr. Kakuda called Giovanni? You’ll have to ask him that yourself.
Cyclo Taxi Reservations
The taxi leaves from the south side of JR Sannomiya Station.
From JR Sannomiya to Nankinmachi (Chinatown) it takes 30 minutes at the cost of 3000 yen for two passengers.
From JR Sannomiya, through Meriken Park, and up until Harborland it takes 60 minutes at the price of 6000 yen for two passengers.
These are the basic courses, but if you are interested in stopping at accessory stores or cafes, some adjustments to the route can be made. Make reservations by phone at 09090436159 or by mail at email@example.com. If you are interested in making a weekday reservation, Giovanni can discuss it with you.
Meetup location: JR Sannomiya, south side taxi terminal. JR Shin-Kobe Station is also possible.
Operating hours: 9:00 to abou 21:00
Days of operation: As a general rule, Saturday and Sunday and public holidays.
Wi-Fi access: N/A
Credit card accepted: No
Languages: Japanese and English (conversational)
Foreign language menus: N/A
Price: 30 minute course- 3,000 yen. 60 minute course - 6,000 yen (If you are interested in making a weekday reservation, Giovanni can discuss it with you.)
Phone number: 09090436159
Official site: cyclo taxi