Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan's ten largest cities. Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan's most attractive cities. The Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto metropolitan area, known as the Keihanshin region, is the second most populous area in Japan behind greater Tokyo.
Kobe is a port city and was one of the first Japanese cities to open up for trade with the west in the early 19th century, alongside the ports of Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Niigata and has retained its cosmopolitan flavor ever since.
Another reason people enjoy living in Kobe is the city is incredibly well connected to the rest of the world. Sannomiya Station connects Kobe to Osaka and the rest of Japan. The Municipal Subway provides access to high-speed rail networks, helping move people efficiently through the city.
Kobe has also spent great effort on programs like Urban Innovation Japan to help reduce commuting time, improve public safety, and reduce crowding on trains. At any given moment, you’re only three hours from Tokyo by train. And both local and international air travel are close by, making Kobe a link to the rest of Japan.
Himeiji Castle is near Kobe and is one of Japan’s 12 original castles and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Shogun-era complex is also known as the “White Heron Castle” due to its elegant, white appearance. First built in 1333 and expanded in 1609, Himeiji has withstood war, fire, earthquakes, and financial distress. The castle complex has served as a backdrop for many movies, including Sean Connery as James Bond in “You Only Live Twice”.
Kobe is a medium-sized city by Japanese standards, which can be visited in one or two days. It is easily accessible from Osaka (20-30 minutes) and Kyoto (less than an hour).
The heart of the city is centered around Sannomiya Station and the port.Sannomiya is literally the hub of activity in Kobe, being the main connection point for nearly all the subway lines in the city. Its crowded streets are lined with department stores and shopping arcades, while the area under the elevated rail tracks connecting Sannomiya Station to Motomachi has two shopping arcades with a number of used-goods shops and stores geared towards the young and trendy.
Heading south from Sannomiya Station, you'll find Flower Road, an attractive tree-lined street. Connecting Flower Road with Motomachi is Sannomiya Center Street, an arcade packed with boutiques, snack food shops and restaurants. Along Motomachi shopping street and in Motoko Town are some antique and souvenir shops stocked with traditional Japanese dolls and lacquerware.
Kobe is also adjacent to some incredible natural landscapes. From Suma Beach (near the cosmopolitan Suma Rikyu Park and the Aquatic Life Park) to the various waterfalls of Nunobiki, the city's surroundings offer some spectacular views.
- The Chinatown district
- The district with European houses, Kitano Ijinkan
- The luxury district, Kyû-kyoryûchi
- Harborland port and shopping center. Address: 1 Chome-3 Higashikawasakicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0044
- Kobe Port Tower, to enjoy the view of the city. Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0042
- Mount Rokko and Nunobiki Herb Garden. Take the cable car to enjoy the view from Mount Rokko and visit the herb garden. Address: 1-4-3 Kitanocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-0002
- The small Japanese garden Sôraku-en. Address: 5 Chome-3-1 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0004.
- Markets - Sumadera Temple hosts an antiques market every month. You can enjoy the local color and look for souvenirs at the same time.
- The fish market, “Uono-tana” at Akashi is an opportunity to become acquainted with giant octopus and other underwater delights.
- Beaches – The only real beaches in Kobe are right on the doorstep of James Yama, no more than 10 minutes down the hill. They offer wonderful views across the bay, and plenty of cycle paths and strolling space for a sunset walk or early walk with the dog. Across the Akashi Suspension Bridge is Awaji Island. It has several sandy beaches, and lots of interesting places to visit or stay over. Awaji Island is also famous, because Kobe Beef was originated in this island.
Known as Kyo-kyoryuchi in Japanese, this area was once the gateway to Western culture as well as a base for trade. From 1868, after the opening of Kobe port to international trade, Westerners settled in this old district, before they moved to the hills around Kitano. The settlement is dotted with western buildings: the former American consulate (1880), now a café, Shosen-Mitsui Building (1922), Kaigan Building (1918), Daimaru Department Store (1929) and Kobe City Museum (1935). The wide, tree-lined pavements and stylish lamp posts are reminiscent of North America. The settlement was returned back to the Japanese Government in 1899 and it soon became the Japanese Business district in Kobe. This area is now a high-end fashion shopping area featuring boutiques and luxury shops selling brands like Prada, Fendi and Louis Vuitton housed in converted 19th century buildings.
Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe is part of the Japanese Mitsui Outlet chain. This Kobe branch is set on the waterfront with great views out across the bay to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. There are about 70 shops selling brand-name designer clothes and other trendy items at discount prices. Some 12 restaurants offer a pleasant meal and a break from shopping in a marina setting. To reach the outlet mall, take the train to Tarumi Station on the JR line.
Location: 12-6 Kaigandori, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 655-0036, Japan
Open: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm
Phone: +81 (0)78 709 4466
Kobe Harborland district offers some of the best and most diverse shopping in Kobe outside of the Sannomiya area. Shopping centres including Harbor Circus, Culmeni, and Kobe Hankyu department store are located here, as well as a host of superstores and specialty shops. The Mosaic complex has some unique shops to browse amid its attractive Mediterranean-style settings. After a day of shopping enjoy the promenade walkways, the cinemas, cafes and amusement parks.
Location: 1, Higashi Kawasaki-cho, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-0044
Phone: +81 (0)78 360 3639