Sunday, September 29, 2013

30 Things You Should Know and/or Will Love about Japan Series: # 11

#11 Rokko Island

Rokko Island
Rokko Island is a rectangular man-made island.  There is a great 5 km (3.1 mile) "Greenbelt" path that encloses the residential area of the island which is great to run/walk around and is dotted with great views, playgrounds and planned plantings.  Outside of that, there are shipyards for containers and a few other commercial buildings.

Middle of Rokko Island
Within the residential area, there are restaurants, schools, parks, grocery stores, a water park... Anything one might need when living on an island.  Unfortunately, in the past few years, many businesses have left Rokko Island, so there isn't as much a variety of restaurants and shopping.

It is the perfect place if you are under 10 or over 60.

We get around on bike and by foot.  We are only 5 minutes from work and grocery stores by bike (and really anything else on the island).

It does get a bit boring and we often wish there were more restaurant choices on island.  We wish that it was easier to go out and buy a gift or get the kids new shoes (as it was when we first moved to the island five years ago).  But, the kids have a lot of freedom on island.   Maximo rides ahead of us on his bike and has a key to our apartment.  While there are cars, there are lights and crossing signals everywhere.  There are hedges separating most of the sidewalks and roads, so when you are walking with an unpredictable toddler, it is usually pretty safe.

Maximo walking home with his friends
While sometimes we yearn for more exciting (shopping and eating, mostly) options nearby, we never have to worry about traffic or being jammed on a train on a busy commute to work.  It's easy to hop on the Rokko Liner and head into Sannomiya (the heart of Kobe) and enjoy meals, shopping and all the things we miss in our day to day home-to-work-to-home life.

Lola in the River Mall
In the middle of the island, there is the River Mall, a man-made "river" which is great for the kids to play in when it's hot.  This is where most of the shops, hotels, restaurants can be found on island.

View North from our apartment towards Kobe
There is a decent ex-pat population on Rokko Island due to the two international schools and Proctor and Gamble.  It is one of the few places in Japan you'll regularly see many foreigners. Due to this population, the grocery stores have a wider variety of products and we can get pretty much whatever we want (for a price, of course).

The City and the inhabitants (especially the large population of retirees) do a great job of keeping the island beautiful and clean.  There are a lot of sculptures around island and there are flowers, trees and plants everywhere you look.

The day after you arrive, we'll be at work, and you can go explore the'll never be more than 15 minutes from our apartment.

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