Hyogo Prefecture’s capital, Kobe, is among the top ten largest cities in Japan. It is sandwiched between the mountains of Rokko and the sea.
For several hundred years, Kobe has played an important role in Japan, being one of the first ports to welcome international trade in the 1800s. Today, the city is highly urbanised, with many high-rise buildings and structures.
When To Go
- In spring (March – May) and autumn (September – November), Kobe offers many spots to get the best views of cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
- During summer (June – August), various outdoor activities are popular, such as hiking Mount Rokko and firefly watching at the Arimagawa River.
- Once winter comes (December – February), the average temperature dips to about five degrees Celsius, but the city remains vibrant as buildings and parks are decorated with bright and colourful lights.
Things To See
Eat Kobe beef
Kobe beef is considered a luxury delicacy in Japan. It comes from high quality cattle and can be served in different ways: shabu shabu, sukiyaki, steak, and others. It is available in many restaurants around the city.
Soak in a hot spring at Arima Onsen
Located on the other side of Mount Rokko, Arima Onsen is a popular hot spring town that offers top notch therapeutic natural waters. It is a great choice for a weekend or one-day getaway, just to relax and unwind.
Experience the view from above through the Shin-Kobe Ropeway
Starting from the Shin-Kobe area, the Shin-Kobe Ropeway takes passengers over the Rokko mountains, providing breathtaking views of the mountain slopes, forest, and metropolis. Once at the top station, visitors can check out the souvenir shop, café, restaurant, and nearby garden.
See Sorakuen Garden
A traditional Japanese Garden that used to be owned by the former mayor of Kobe and was opened to the public in 1941. A beautiful garden to visit away from hustle and bustle of Kobe.
Check out the Nunobiki Herb Garden
Occupying 40 acres of land, the Nunobiki Herb Garden in Kobe is home to more than 200 varieties of herbs and flowering plants that add colour and life to this part of Mount Rokko any time of the year. It has gift shops, cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy the wide array of pleasant aromas and flavours made using the garden’s special herbs.
Visit the Kobe City Hall Observation Deck
Kobe City Hall’s 24th floor is an observation deck that is open to the public free of charge. It offers amazing views of Mount Rokko and the city and, at night, it is the perfect place to enjoy the illuminated harbour area and Kobe skyline.
Where To Explore
- Kobe Harborland – Situated along the city’s waterfront area, Kobe Harborland is home to many shops, stores, cafes, diners and restaurants. It is where Canal Garden and Mosaic, the two biggest shopping areas in the city, are found. It also has an amusement park.
- Kitano – At the foot of Mount Rokko lies a district that used to serve as the residential area of the foreign diplomats and merchants who chose to live in Kobe during the foreign trade activities in the second half of the 1800s. Today, visitors can explore these old preserved houses to see the interior layouts and designs. Some of the most notable are England House, France House (Yokan Nagaya), Italian House (Platon Decorative Arts Museum), Ben’s House, Yamate Hachibankan, and Former Chinese Consulate.
- Chinatown – Recognised as Kansai’s central Chinese community, Kobe’s Chinatown, or Nankinmanchi, is where the Chinese merchants in the late 1800s chose to settle to be close to the Kobe Port area. It was named after Nanjing, which used to be a capital of China. Today, it is home to several shopping establishments, food stands, and restaurants that offer Chinese goods and dishes.
- Meriken Park – With a nice waterfront view, Meriken Park is a popular destination for both locals and foreigners looking for a spot to chill and relax. Its green, grassy lawns, gardens, and courtyards provide a refreshing atmosphere in the middle of the city. Also, it is where you can find the Kobe Maritime Museum, Kawasaki Good Times World, and Kobe Port Tower.
The city of Kobe consists of many railways, including the Japan Railways and a number of subway lines. It has a loop bus that serves visitors looking for a convenient way to travel from one tourist attraction to another. Because most of Kobe’s tourist destinations are not that distant from each other, walking is also quite popular.