Sneaking into the “great base of table tennis” in the underground passage of Kobe station! – Do you know the “Metro Table tennis” located underground? – [The latter part]

  • Work out
  • The one and only
  • Heard from someone
  • Hot spot for athletes
  • With the family
  • With the kids
  • Sake
  • Eating around
  • Table Tennis
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Kobe City (Hyogo Pref.)
Sneaking into the “great base of table tennis” in the underground passage of Kobe station! – Do you know the “Metro Table tennis” located underground? – [The latter part]
(Summary of the first part)
A local town called “Shinkaichi” is known by everyone in Kobe. In the underground shopping street “Metro Kobe”, that connects “Shinkaichi” station of Kobe Rapid Transit Railway and “Kosoku Kobe” station, there is a great base of table tennis, such as “Metro Table tennis” that opened in 1971. Why table tennis here? To explore the mystery, I started walking Metro Kobe from “Shinkaichi” station side, it had dim lighting even in the morning.

A nice guy appeared.

Clip, clip, clip…I heard a sound of table tennis rally. It was just the sound, I was like I was surrounded by “wellness and peace of mind” that sports have. Though I was lost in the foreign land on my own, the power of sports was great.

I arrived at “Metro Table tennis”. However, I hadn’t made an appointment with them but only with the shop manager of “Table tennis shop TAKAHASHI”, which is right next to the place, at 10:30 a.m. to do an interview. Now I wonder, why I didn’t make an appointment with “Metro Table tennis” even though it was my destination.

I was curious to see inside of the table tennis place, but thought it wasn’t a good idea to peek with a single-lens reflex camera hang around my neck, so I headed for TAKAHASHI first. Since there were several customers in the shop, I just called out and waited outside. The shop manager Mr. Hamai appeared! He’s young. Nowadays, many shop managers are younger than me.
<font size='-1' color='blue'>Mr. Hamai, the shop manager of “Table tennis shop TAKAHASHI”</font>
Mr. Hamai, the shop manager of “Table tennis shop TAKAHASHI”
I could explain “Sports Locally” a little better this time. To tell the truth, I struggled to explain what “Sports Locally” was to the pianist I met just before, since she was the first person I talked to for this coverage. Well, even if I could explain well, I still might have confused her with “Sports × Local” interview.

As expected, Mr. Hamai knew the World Masters Games and told me that many of his customers have already made an entry. When I told him that I was willing to write about Metro Table tennis, he took out his mobile phone and called a person from Kobe Rapid Transit Railway, who is in charge of Metro Kobe underground shopping street, so that things may go smoothly for me. Furthermore, he took me to the place and introduced me to its receptionist, Mr. Sera. What a nice guy…!

I was told that a person called Mr. Miyamura was coming soon. I was grateful that I would be able to interview without hesitation! Finally, I was in Metro Table tennis.

Why “table tennis place' in underground passage?

<font size='-1' color='blue'>It may be the interval that the table tennis table fits perfectly.</font>
It may be the interval that the table tennis table fits perfectly.
As I was talking with Mr. Sera and Mr. Hamai, Mr. Miyamura from Kobe Rapid Transit Railway arrived. A young, fine guy, who wasn’t born at the time this place opened in 1971. He sincerely listens to my poor explanation on Sports Locally.

I asked him why a table tennis place opened in this underground passage, which was my biggest mystery for this coverage. “I heard that it was because someone noticed that the table may fit between the pillars.” According to him, there is a theory in his work place, “Table fits perfectly”. I see, there are pillars at equal intervals to hold underground, so its use may be limited even though the place is spacious. Yes, this is the ideal space to put table tennis tables. “Mystery solved!” that was what I had in my mind at that point.

Those who enjoy lifelong sport may enjoy life as well.

<font size='-1' color='blue'>Certificate of umpire given by “Japan Table Tennis Association”, with records in various places</font>
Certificate of umpire given by “Japan Table Tennis Association”, with records in various places
Several pairs were practicing in the place. As I gazed wondering what to write, the nice guy, Manager Hamai said “The lady over there is qualified to umpire national championship, she might have umpired games of Ms. Kasumi Ishikawa (Note: Olympian).”

A group of 5 women were practicing. He was talking about one of them who looked like a coach. I already got a permission, can’t wait to interview her! I waited until she finished, and then approached her.

“Hi, can I ask you something?” Here, explanation of Sports Locally again. I don’t think I’m good at it, however, I felt I could explain it properly at 4th time! According to her, it was her own team that she was coaching just before, and the team mates were practicing for matches. Actuaaly, they didn’t look like playing for fun, I told her so. “It’s my joy to see everyone improve gradually.” she looked happy.

As I listened to this umpire, she flipped pages of a small blue book that umpires have to show me the contents. The records of the games she umpired in Osaka, Tokyo, etc., were written down on it. “I’m an umpire for many years, since I’m old. I used up all the pages, so I added like this.” she smiled. It’s like what people would do with a passport when all the pages are filled with stamps. The book looked like a passport with added pages. She looked a little proud.

When the team of 5 changed clothes, “We are going to have lunch at Royal Host (casual restaurant), well, it would be longer than the practice!” she laughed. They walked the underground passage towards Shinkaichi, where the street piano was. She is qualified to umpire games at the level of national championship, happy to see her members improve, goes to eat with mates after practice. I thought she was a role model for those who enjoy lifelong sport.
<font size ='-1' color=blue>On her way to Royal Host. Looked like walking with a springy step.</font>
On her way to Royal Host. Looked like walking with a springy step.

Suddenly, the truth became clear.

<font size ='-1' color=blue>A receptionist of ”Metro Table tennis”, Mr. Sera watching over people practicing.</font>
A receptionist of ”Metro Table tennis”, Mr. Sera watching over people practicing.
The mystery of why this place was made is solved, I could also interview its user. This coverage is coming to the end. I started thinking, I should have asked Kobe Rapid Transit Railway in first place if I wanted to know why the table tennis place is in underground shopping street. On the other hand, I wasn’t fully satisfied.
Then, unexpectedly, I got new information. From the receptionist, Mr. Sera!

When I was having a chat with Mr. Sera, I asked unintentionally “Why they made a table tennis place here?”. He replied “Shinkaichi is a convenient station since the trains of multiple lines stop. Passengers use this underground passage to transfer, but it was dim. I heard that they made this place so that it would be brighter.”

That’s it, Mr. Sera! The first reason must be; let’s make a dim underground passage brighter for people’s safety. Yes, this must be the reason.

But I still have something in my mind, that is, the underground shopping street is still rather dim even though they could have used brighter lightings. I imagine there are people above who wish to preserve this atmosphere, and “producing this atmosphere on purpose”, I’m seriously thinking that way…. (Sorry!)

When I visited the place at a later date just for taking pictures, the nice guy Manager Hamai said “The person over there is a representative player of Nara Prefecture…”. At the next table, high school boys in table tennis uniform were playing while a couple enjoy playing next to them. This place is loved this way by people in Kobe for decades.
<font size ='-1' color=blue>On the way back, grabbed a drink at a fried food shop in front of “Shinkaichi” station’s ticket gate.)</font>
On the way back, grabbed a drink at a fried food shop in front of “Shinkaichi” station’s ticket gate.)

Table tennis players, check this out!

I would also like to give you some information on table tennis, “Metro Table tennis 2” opened in October, 2020, on the other side of the street piano, which made this table tennis base even bigger. It is 10 minutes walking from Kobe Central Gymnasium, which is one of the venues for the World Masters Games’ table tennis competitions. The chairman of “Metro Table tennis 2” I interviewed was muttering “If there are people who wish to practice early in the morning, I might open the place at 6 a.m. on the day”. It is very convenient to get to another venue “Green Arena Kobe” by train, so, if you are a player, note it!

And don’t miss seaside of JR Kobe station (10 minutes walking from Metro Kobe), my favourite Harbour Land! I guarantee you enjoy “KOBE as port town” there, so I hope you visit both.

It has been decided to postpone the World Masters Games for about one year due to Covid-19. In 2022, it would be nice if people from overseas visited Metro Kobe, and listened to the street piano with men dozing off, interacted with locals at the fried food shop, etc.

I imagine and can’t help smiling; the locals of Shinkaichi think “I see many holiday makers and people from overseas recently.” not knowing the World Masters Games is being held. And a drunk guy at the fried food shop ask the athlete sat next to him, “Where are you from?”.
■Shop information (as of December, 2020)

■Metro Kobe
OPENING HOURS: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Restaurant are open until 9:00 p.m.)
CLOSE: The third Tuesday of every month *There are irregular holidays
LOCATION: If you are coming by train (Hankyu / Hanshin / Sanyo / Kobe Dentetsu), “Kosoku Kobe” station (east ticket gate / west ticket gate) is connected to the place.

■Metro Table tennis
OPENING HOURS: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Last admission is at 7:30 p.m.)
CLOSE: New year’s day
LOCATION: “Metro Kobe” underground shopping street (100 m to the west from “Kosoku Kobe” station’s west ticket gate.)
CONTACT/BOOKING: 078-371-0868
* For each table, you can borrow two rackets and a ping-pong ball for free.
* For fees and opening hours of new year's holiday season, please refer to the website.

■Table tennis shop TAKAHASHI (TTS TAKAHASHI Kobe main store)
OPENING HOURS: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
CLOSE: The third Tuesday of every month
LOCATION: “Metro Kobe” underground shopping street (0 min. walk from “Kosoku Kobe” station’s west ticket gate)
CONTACT: 078-360-4343

The sports and disciplines
of the World Masters
Games 2021 Kansai
held in the neighbourhood.

 Yuko UENO
Introducing the poster


I belong to a writers’ community called “Osaka monokaki tai (Osaka writers group)” while working as a reporter for a Kobe community paper, “Viva! New town”.
I’ve been playing soft volleyball once a week for 13 years, and my position is an attacker. I started going to a kick boxing gym last month and I’m secretly hoping to become strong.
Big fan of Arashi’s leader, Mr Ohno.