One Hour from Osaka! Five Recommended Tourist Destinations in Kobe
Kobe is a port city that is within one hour from Osaka. It has many attractive tourist destinations, including the beautiful Bay Area and Chinatown, which has sumptuous street foods. Below are five recommended tourist spots in Kobe.
1. Kitano Ijinkan-gai
Kobe, which has long been a port city, has many areas with facades reminiscent of foreign lands. One such area is Kitano Ijinkan-gai, which is on a hill overlooking the port.
The area has many "ijinkan" (houses of foreigners who lived in Kobe after the port opened to foreign trade), with around 20 of them open to the public. The most famous is the Kazamidori no Yakata (500 JPY/adult), a brick house with a weather vane on top of a pointed roof, which has become the area’s symbol. The building is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. There is much more to see, with some of the other buildings now operating as restaurants and museums.
2. Ikuta Jinja
This is a shrine in Sannomiya, which is considered to be in central Kobe. It is an ancient shrine with a history of more than 1,800 years, and is famous for matchmaking. It is also said to have other benefits, such as giving blessings for safe childbirth, household safety, and warding off evil.
In addition to the main buildings – which include a tower gate, hall of worship, and the main shrine – there are many small shrines on the premises. In one of the small shrines, Matsuo Jinja, it is said that if one stands under a cedar tree and wishes for their love to be requited, the wish will come true. The Mizu Mikuji (200 JPY) is popular in the Chinju no Mori forest, which lies at the northern part of the premises. This is a mikuji (fortune slip) that you can dip into a pond inside the forest to have your fortune told.
3. Kobe Harborland
You can feel the refreshing sea breeze at Kobe Harborland, which is located by the bay. It consists of a range of facilities, including Kobe Harborland umie – a large mall of 225 shops that sell clothing, food, and other miscellaneous goods – the Mosaic Ferris Wheel (800 JPY), and two red brick buildings that were built at the end of the 19th century. There is also a museum where you can see, touch, and play in the world of the popular character, Anpanman, so it is perfect for families as well. You can even take a cruise at the bay and enjoy the lights at night!
Nankinmachi is known as one of Japan's top three Chinatowns. There are more than 100 shops – including restaurants and shops selling everyday goods and souvenirs – spread out in an area that measures 270m east to west and 110m north to south.
You can find restaurants where you can sit down to enjoy Chinese food, but the tasty-looking pork buns and soup dumplings that are sold in the stores are particularly eye-catching. Numerous restaurants sell items with their signature flavors, so why not walk around and try some? Of course, it is fun just to stroll around and take in the exotic atmosphere! Nankinmachi also holds a variety of events throughout the year, including the Chinese New Year festival.
5. Arima Onsen
Arima Onsen is another highly recommended destination. Here, you can enjoy Japan's oldest hot springs, as well as the romantic atmosphere of a traditional onsen (hot spring) town.
At the hot springs, you can try two different types of waters. The reddish-brown Kinsen (golden hot spring) containing iron and salt has great moisturizing benefits, while the clear Ginsen (silver spring) leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth, making it popular with women. Staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn) is the best way to thoroughly enjoy hot springs. Other than the two public hot springs and the free footbath outside, you can enjoy a variety of activities, such as taking a day trip to the hot springs or visiting Taiko no Yu (starts from 2,400 JPY/adult (incl. tax)) – an onsen theme park with 24 different baths!
The recommended mode of transportation in the city is the City Loop, which is a bus that goes around major spots, including Kitano, Sannomiya, the Kobe Foreign Settlement, and the Bay Area. Arima Onsen can be accessed via bus from Osaka or Sannomiya.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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