What does adventure mean? What counts as an adventure? For some people, adventure means scuba diving, while for others, discovering a new coffee shop downtown is an escapade. Here is the definition of adventure in Oxford Learner’s Dictionary: an unusual, exciting, or dangerous experience, journey, or series of events. Nowhere in this sentence is there a hint of the need to go or travel somewhere far to have an adventure.
Then why do humans seek adventures in faraway lands? And I am not excluding myself here. If you haven’t noticed already, most of my adventure posts are about places far from where I live. But a journey I recently embarked on changed the way I felt about adventures. I have come to understand that I don’t need to go far away to experience excitement and new things.
Urban hiking: Suma Alps
Suma Ward in Kobe offers a moderately challenging urban hike. I hiked Suma Alps last year and went on another hike a few days ago. Open and gorgeous any time of the year, it’s a popular hiking spot for people of all ages. It takes about two and a half hours to complete this hike, depending on the route you take.
The first and most popular hike is the Umanose trail. “Umanose” means the back of a horse, and the trail really looks like that. This scenic rocky section is thrilling due to its exposed mountain surface. I found it a bit hair-raising at first but managed to traverse it during my first attempt last year. I continued and ended my hike in the north of Suma, at Mount Yokoo.
There are buses to JR and Sanyo Suma stations, but if you feel adventurous, you can walk down the hill until you reach Suma-dera, which I did. Suma-dera is a beautiful and popular temple in Kobe where you can enjoy tranquility (or contemplate things if you are an overthinker like me.)
This year, however, I decided to choose a different route. I started the hike at Sumaura Park and reached the top of Mount Hachibuse to view the breathtaking and panoramic Seto Inner Sea. Watching the sea from the summit made me feel blessed to live near it. After taking a break there, I started going down and followed a different route that took me to Shioya from Mount Hatafuri.
City as a living being
It’s hard to pinpoint what an adventure entails for different people. I have been living in Kobe and know a lot of cool places in this city, but I know there is still a lot to explore—which isn’t intimidating. Quite the contrary, it’s stimulating!
I believe a city has its own pulse, and it evolves in so many ways every day. The streets, alleys, and neighborhoods change just like we do, and there’s little we can do about it. At the summit, I overheard some senior citizens talking about the “old days” of Kobe—days that passed way before I was born. They sounded rather nostalgic but concluded their conversation with a famous Japanese saying: Shouganai! “It can’t be helped,” or “it is what it is!” And it’s true indeed.
Embarking on local ventures makes me feel like a historian. I witness the change in the city and write down my observations whenever I can. This building has disappeared, or, A new place has appeared—these kind of notes make me realize the significance of recognizing a city as a living being. And just like a living being, a city can thrive or wither.
More local adventures, please!
Cities are at the core of literature for most genres. In a creative writing book I have been reading, the author says that imaginary settings have replaced real settings in novels today, since most people don’t explore their cities as much as 19th– and 20th-century authors did. As a result, an inconsistent gap arises between the characters and the places. Perhaps it’s worth exploring what discovering our cities and going on more local adventures mean for literature.
Local adventures have a pivotal role in sustainability and environmentalism, too. Traveling locally means less waste, energy, and distance. It also means we spend less money, which is great because as alluring as distant adventures are, they are costly. And when we explore our cities, we can contribute to the local economy, get to know local people, and travel more often.
I admit that the idea of traveling to remote, secluded places or bustling capitals is still appealing. Traveling enhances our human experience and helps us see the world through others’ eyes. Yet, we shouldn’t brush aside the fact that where we live can be as exciting as those faraway places. Our local environment can also alter our worldview. I know I will focus on local expeditions more this year, so buckle up for more Hyogo adventures!
What about you? Do you like where you live? Do you go on local adventures?
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