Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture. It is Japan’s sixth-largest city and considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities. Kobe was one of the cities to open for trade with the West following the 1853 end of the policy of seclusion and has since been known as a cosmopolitan and nuclear-free zone port city. The city is the point of origin and namesake of Kobe beef, as well as the site of one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Arima Onsen.
On January 17, 1995, the city of Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, resulting in the death of more than 5000 people and the destruction of tens of thousands of homes. The Earthquake Memorial Museum was opened in 2002 to commemorate the tragic event and to educate visitors about earthquakes and disaster prevention. The museum includes a large screen theatre with realistic images of the earthquake's destructiveness, a documentary film about the recovery process, lots of information about the earthquake and various interactive games about disaster prevention. (Image via Kobe Convention)
Activities: Museum visit Fee: JPY 600 Time required: Minimum 30 minutes
Shin Kobe Ropeway
Shin-Kobe Ropeway is one of three services that lift tourists to the southern slopes of the Rokko mountain chain. As it ascends, it passes by the Nunobiki Waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden (one of Japan's largest herb gardens with hundreds of herb species and seasonal flowers), giving a nice aerial view of both. The highlight of the ride lies in the observation deck located just beside the top station, which offers spectacular views of Kobe and is a popular night view spot.
Activities: Ropeway Fee: JPY 900 Time required: 1 hour
Kitano is a city district where many foreign merchants and diplomats settled after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. More than a dozen of the former mansions, known as Ijinkan, remain in the area and are open to the public as museums. Most of the houses charge an admission fee between 550 to 750 yen. The entire district is pleasant to walk through and offers a variety of cafes, restaurants and boutiques, making it a favorite among young Japanese couples.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: Minimum 40 minutes
The five areas of Nada (Nadagogo) are located along the coast of Hyogo Prefecture and famed for being one of Japan’s major sake production regions. The mineral-rich water of the Rokko Mountains and the cold winter enhance the flavour of sake. These small areas are lined with famous sake breweries, and each of the breweries produces different flavours varying from sharp and dry to smooth and sweet. Famous sake breweries to visit include Hakutsuru Sake Brewery, Hamafukutsuru Ginjo Brewery, and Kobe Shushinkan Brewery.
Activities: Sake tasting Fee: None Time required: Minimum 45 minutes
Opened in October 1992, the Kobe Harborland megacomplex has become one of Kobe's major tourist attractions. The district offers a large selection of shops, restaurants, cafes and other amusements, which, together with the romantic evening atmosphere, have made it a popular spot for couples and tourists alike. The most prominent shopping complex in Kobe Harborland is Umie which consists of three parts: Mosaic, South Mall and North Mall. Other attractions in the district include the nearby Gaslight Street and Renga Soko.
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Meriken Park is a waterfront park located in the port city of Kobe. The park features the Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum, and a memorial to victims of the Great Hanshin earthquake. The name of the park comes from the word "American," which was commonly translated as "Meriken" during the Meiji era. The park was devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, and part of the Meriken wharf is left unrepaired, as it was after the quake, to show the destruction caused by the massive tremor. It has now become a popular spot for locals and tourists again.
Activities: Photo stop, Strolling Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
One of the main streets that lead through the centre of Kobe Harborland, Gaslight Street is lit up in the evenings by old-fashioned gas street lamps and electric lights. The trees and lights enhance the avenue and surrounding buildings, which makes Gaslight Street a little-known but memorable spot for taking pictures. (Image via Earthory)
Renga Soko is a collection of 19th-century red-brick warehouses filled with cafes, performance spaces and retail outlets. Lavish and spacious, these buildings are a unique Kobe-style mix of Japanese design aesthetic and international taste. On any given weekend, you’ll find a laid-back atmosphere of jazz, arthouse cinema showings, and wine tastings. (Image via Matcha)
A museum filled with the world from the animated TV show Anpanman. Anpanman is an eccentric superhero that will give a part of his head (which is made of anpan) to those who are starving to appease their hunger. This series is so popular that, now 28 years later, it is still being broadcast on TV. Visitors can meet characters from the world of Anpanman and get freshly baked versions of Anpanman and his friends at the museum’s fully functioning bakery.