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The city of Kobe in the Kansai Region is a popular area full of sightseeing spots and wonderful food. It is easy to get to from Osaka, so many foreign tourists visit the two cities together. This article introduces 20 highly recommended spots in Kobe!

About Kobe

Kobe is a port city that has flourished by adopting cultural influences of various countries since opening up to international trade in 1868. It is a charming area with a landscape of chic buildings and beautiful mountains and sea.

How to Get to Kobe

Here is how to get to Sannomiya Station in central Kobe from Japan's two major cities: Osaka and Tokyo.

From Osaka:
The easiest way to get to Sannomiya Station from the Osaka area is by train. It is fastest is to take a JR train from Osaka Station. It will take about 30 minutes (410 JPY one way). The cheapest way is to take either Hanshin Electric Railway or Hankyu from Umeda Station. It will take about 45 minutes in both cases and will cost 320 JPY one way.
*It is a 2 to 3-minute walk between JR Sannomiya Station and Kobe Sannomiya Station.

From Tokyo:
The standard way to travel between Tokyo and Kobe is by airplane or train. By airplane, it is about 1 hour 20 minutes from Haneda Airport to Kobe Airport, and about 20 minutes from the airport to Sannomiya Station on the Port Liner operated by Kobe New Transit. To go by train, take the Shinkansen bullet train Nozomi from Tokyo Station to Shin-Kobe Station (about 2 hours 41 minutes). From there, it is a 2-minute subway ride to Sannomiya Station.

Kobe's Weather

Kobe has relatively mild weather throughout the year thanks to the warm water of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains that protect against the northerly winds. Rainfall increases during the rainy season (June to July) and typhoon season (July to September), but it is less than Tokyo for example, and there is hardly any snow in the winter. There are some extremely hot days over 35℃ in the summer, but it only goes below 0℃ on a few days in the winter.

Enjoy Fantastic Views from Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is a bridge over Akashi Strait between Kobe City and Awaji Island. With an overall length of 3,911m and central span of 1,991m, it is the world's largest suspension bridge. You can enjoy a full view of the bridge from the seaside park, Maiko Park, on the Kobe side, but to really enjoy its scale, take in the view from the bridge itself. Bridge World for Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge is a tour on which staff who were involved in the construction of the bridge explain the history and technology of the bridge in an easily understandable manner. It includes a "mid-air walk" on the maintenance path that is usually closed to the public. The 360° panoramic view from the main tower 300m above water level is fantastic.

About Bridge World for Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
Reservations required. Must be junior high school age or older to participate (junior high school students must be accompanied by an adult).
Participation fee: 3,000 JPY/adult (3,100 JPY for tours after Tuesday, October 1, 2019), 1,500 JPY/junior high school student (remains the same after Tuesday, October 1, 2019)

Enjoy Fantastic Views from Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

4-114 Higashi Maiko-cho, Tarumi-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Savor Kobe Beef

Kobe Beef is a brand-name beef that is one of the three great beefs of Japan* and has the strictest inspection standards among them. It is widely known overseas and is particularly famous in the US and Europe as the highest quality meat brand. Be sure to experience the perfect combination of the soft texture that feels as if it melts in the mouth, the umami flavors of the lean meat, and aromatic fat.
Dishes made with Kobe Beef are served at numerous restaurants around Kobe, and among them, KOKORO in the Minato Motomachi area is highly recommended. At KOKORO, you can enjoy the dynamic performance of the meat being prepared on a grill alongside a view of the ocean.

*Kobe Beef, Matsusaka Beef, and Omi Beef

Sample menu at KOKORO: (Kobe Beef 8-course) 20,000 JPY per person (excl. tax and service charge)

Savor Kobe Beef

Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland 2F, 7-2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

See the Lights of Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie is a lights festival that is held every year to honor the people who lost their lives in the Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit the southern part of Hyogo Prefecture in January 1995, and to represent the dreams and hopes for reconstruction and revitalization. It is now widely known as a standard winter event in Kobe and will be held for the 25th time in 2019. The illuminations are designed to a theme every year and are all made with LED lights. It is a mystic festival of lights to be enjoyed over a period of 10 days.

Schedule: Friday, December 6, 2019 - Sunday, December 15, 2019
Location: Kobe Former Foreign Settlement and Kobe East Park

See the Lights of Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Former Foreign Settlement and Kobe East Park, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

See the Stunning View of Nunobiki Falls

One of the appeals of Kobe is its rich nature. Among the many nature spots, Nunobiki Falls, which is close to the city of Kobe and is counted as one of Japan's best 100 waterfalls, is recommended. It is located midstream of Ikuta River and consists of four waterfalls: Ontaki, Mentaki, Meotodaki and Tsutumigadaki. Ontaki, in particular, is a famous waterfall with a height of 43m. It is lovely to walk the paths in the area, particularly during the season of fresh verdure and when the leaves turn colors in the autumn.

See the Stunning View of Nunobiki Falls

Fukiai-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Photograph the Meriken Park Area, Including Kobe Port Tower

Meriken Park is a popular area by the bay. There are many iconic buildings in the area, so it is the perfect place to take photographs that capture the feel of Kobe. A popular building to photograph is the Kobe Port Tower (left in the photograph). It photographs wonderfully during the day with its red contrasting beautifully with the blue sky, as well as in the evening when it is lit up with 7,040 LED lights. The best place to go to if you want to take a panoramic view of the bay, including the tower, is Kobe Harborland, a commercial complex on the opposite shore of the park.

Photograph the Meriken Park Area, Including Kobe Port Tower

2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Enjoy Sake at Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum

Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Co. is a famous sake maker that is familiar to many Japanese people. Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum is a place where you can learn about its sake-making process and history. The highlight is the sake brewing exhibition room. Almost all the exhibited equipment are valuable items that have been designated as important tangible cultural properties by the Japanese government so you can truly get a sense of traditional sake-brewing processes and how the brewers lived and worked. The opportunity to try unfiltered, unpasteurized, and undiluted sake and to purchase original sweets, such as soft serve ice cream, is also a big plus. Another bonus is that entry is free.

Enjoy Sake at Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum

1-9-1 Uozaki Nishi-machi, Higashi Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Shop at Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets

Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets has the largest floor space of all outlet malls in western Japan. It has everything from global luxury brands, such as CELINE and Gucci, to Japanese brands such as United Arrows, shops selling select products from different brands, and sports brands such as Adidas and Nike. There are also many shops with interior decoration goods and other miscellaneous items. There are cafes and restaurants as well so you can rest and eat in-between shopping.

Shop at Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets

7-3 Kozu-dai, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

See a Romantic Night View from the Kikusei Dai Observation Deck on Mt. Maya

Kikusei Dai, an observation deck atop Mt. Maya, is one of Japan's top spots for night views. It can be accessed via a cable car and ropeway, and affords a stunning night view of the whole area spanning the port of Osaka to the city of Kobe. The lights of the neons in the city, as well as of the port and ships in the ocean, shimmer as if stars in the sky. Why not visit and be entranced by the beauty of this romantic scenery?

See a Romantic Night View from the Kikusei Dai Observation Deck on Mt. Maya

2-2 Mayasan-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Enjoy the Kobe Specialty, Soba Meshi

Soba Meshi, which is said to have originated in Kobe, is a "B-level gourmet" (cheap, everyday food enjoyed by many) beloved by people of all ages. Chinese noodles and white rice are fried on an iron plate together with ingredients such as vegetables, flavored with sauce and chopped into small pieces using a spatula (it is sometimes chopped first then fried). Popular ingredients are pork and cabbage, but other food such as squid are sometimes added as well. It is available at many teppanyaki and okonomiyaki shops in the Kobe area, among which Kuukai, a teppanyaki shop in a convenient location just 3 minutes by foot from Sannomiya Station on the Seishin-Yamate subway line, is recommended. There is counter seating by the open kitchen, as well as tables, and a variety of teppanyaki (ingredients grilled on an iron griddle) dishes are served. There are menus in English.

Sample Kuukai menu: Mixed Soba Meshi 1,400 JPY (excl. tax)

Enjoy the Kobe Specialty, Soba Meshi

KW Bldg. 1F, 2-1-4 Shimo Yamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Feel Japan's History in Kobe Former Foreign Settlement in Motomachi

Motomachi in Kobe has an area called Kobe Former Foreign Settlement. In 1858, Japan opened up to the world after years of isolationism. When Kobe Port was opened in 1868, this area was established as a place for foreigners staying in Kobe for trade and other activities to live in. Many of the buildings were damaged over the years through war and earthquakes, but some have been reconstructed so that one can still get a sense of the townscape that was said to be "the most beautiful in the Orient." There are now many restaurants and cafes, shops, and cultural facilities such as museums in the renovated classical buildings and it is a popular spot for shopping and sightseeing.

Feel Japan's History in Kobe Former Foreign Settlement in Motomachi

Around Naniwa-machi, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Learn about Japanese Manufacturing at Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

If you are visiting Japan, you will want to experience the "monozukuri" (a term encompassing a synthesis of technological prowess, know-how, and spirit of Japan's manufacturing practices) aspect of the country. Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum is Japan's only museum focusing on carpentry tools that embody uniquely Japanese aesthetics and sensibilities. It has more than 35,000 carpentry tools, which are disappearing with the advent of technology, that were collected as cultural heritage to be handed down to future generations. This is an invaluable museum where you can learn not only about the tools themselves, but also about the skills, wisdom and spirit of the people who used them and the cultural properties, such as buildings, that were built with them.

Admission: 500 JPY/adult, 200 JPY/senior (65 and over), 300 JPY/student (college/university, high school), free for students junior high school age and younger

Learn about Japanese Manufacturing at Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

7-5-1 Kumochi-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Enjoy a Panoramic View of the City of Kobe from Rokko Garden Terrace on Mt. Rokko

Rokko Garden Terrace is a popular leisure spot near the summit of Mt. Rokko. There is a stunning panoramic view including Akashi Strait and Kansai International Airport from the observation space. The night view that is described as the "10-million-dollar night view," is a must see. The Terrace has restaurants and cafes as well as shops selling accessories and a variety of miscellaneous items, so you can enjoy both great food and shopping. Some of the shops may close irregularly during the winter, so be sure to check in advance.

Enjoy a Panoramic View of the City of Kobe from Rokko Garden Terrace on Mt. Rokko

1877-9 Gosukeyama Rokkosan-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Buy Souvenirs at Michi-no-Eki KOBE Fruit & Flower Park Ozo

This is a popular facility that has as its concept "a fruit and flower theme park". In addition to fields in which seasonal flowers bloom and orchards to enjoy fruit picking in (summer to fall only), there is an amusement park, hot springs, and barbecue area so the whole family can have a full day of fun. The shops have a great selection of items, so it is perfect for buying souvenirs! There are, of course, original sweets and food and produce from Kobe, as well as local wines, Japanese crafts, and a variety of stylish items.

Buy Souvenirs at Michi-no-Eki KOBE Fruit & Flower Park Ozo

2150 Kami Ozo, Ozo-cho, Kita-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

See Seasonal flowers in Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens

This is one of Japan's largest herb gardens and is located at an altitude of 400m, on a mountainside with a view of the ocean and city of Kobe. There are 12 gardens with approximately 75,000 herbs of 200 varieties, so that it can be enjoyed each season. The gardens have a variety of different themes, such as the Rose Symphony Garden with about 60 different types of roses, and the Herb Museum, a living encyclopedia with around 100 varieties of herbs. There are many more facilities such as a View Plaza from which to enjoy beautiful views, herbal foot baths, shops selling original products and restaurants.

See Seasonal flowers in Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens

1-4-3 Kitano-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Experience Japanese Technology at Kawasaki Good Times World

Kawasaki Heavy Industries was established in Kobe and has a history of more than 120 years. This is a museum for this famous company that has released products, such as ships, train cars, airplanes and motorcycles, with the latest technologies out into the world. It is a place where you can learn the history of technology and the importance of "monozukuri" while having fun seeing and touching the company's representative products. The museum is packed with interesting exhibitions and activities such as motorcycles including historic racing motorcycles, a Series 0 Shinkansen (bullet train), a water scooter game and flight simulator. It is located within Kobe Maritime Museum, right by the sea in Kobe.

Admission (including admission to Kobe Maritime Museum): 600 JPY/adult, 250 JPY/elementary and junior high school age, free entry for up to two toddlers per adult

Experience Japanese Technology at Kawasaki Good Times World

(In Kobe Maritime Museum), 2-2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Contemplate the Earthquake at Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

The Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred on January 17, 1995. This is a memorial park where you can feel the unprecedented scale of the devastation caused by this earthquake, which resulted in more than 50,000 deaths and injuries. A part of the wharf that was damaged by the earthquake and street lamps that heeled over are preserved as they were and exhibited in an area surrounded by a corridor from which to view them. There are also models, videos and photo panels recording the extent of the damage to the port of Kobe and the process of reconstruction so that you can see the awful devastation as well as the course of reconstruction.

Contemplate the Earthquake at Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Stroll Around the Tranquil Japanese Garden at Sorakuen Garden

Sorakuen Garden is a garden that was built at the main residence of Taijiro Kodera, father of former Kobe City mayor, Kenkichi Kodera. It is said to have been completed in 1911, opened to the public years later, and registered as a Registered Monument of Japan (place of scenic beauty) in 2006. It has an area of approximately 20,000 sq.m. and is filled with notable spots such as a large central pond, stone bridges, waterfall, and a giant camphor tree that is said to be 500 years old. It is also famous for the beauty of its rhododendrons in the spring and foliage in the fall. In addition, many structures on the grounds, such as the Houseboat, are designated as important cultural properties so be sure to see them as well.

Fees: 300 JPY/adult (age 15 and older), 150 JPY/elementary and junior high school age

Stroll Around the Tranquil Japanese Garden at Sorakuen Garden

5-3-1 Nakayamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Enjoy Street Food at the Kobe Chinatown, Nankin-machi

Kobe's Chinatown, otherwise known as "Nankin-machi", started as a market for foreigners who came to Japan when the port opened in 1868. Today, it is packed daily with people visiting for the more than 100 shops including Chinese restaurants, food markets and shops selling a variety of miscellaneous products. If you want to visit this area, be sure to try tabe-aruki (eating while walking; trying food at various restaurants). You can enjoy numerous takeout food, such as pork buns, xiaolongbao and shark fin ramen, as well as sweets such as cream puffs and marshmallow and even alcoholic beverages including beer. Just be careful not to overeat!

Enjoy Street Food at the Kobe Chinatown, Nankin-machi

1 - 2 Sakaemachi-dori, 1 - 2 Motomachi-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyog

Visit the Unique Shops Around Tor Road

The Kobe Former Foreign Settlement is an international business zone that was created by people who came from around the world after the port of Kobe opened up, and the Kitano area is where foreigners working there lived. Tor Road was a busy road connecting the two areas. Today, it is known as an area with stylish shops suited for a fun day of shopping. In particular, the numerous shops selling miscellaneous items in the Tor West area to the west are recommended. For example, there is Conel, which sells craft items and old tools, Rollo, which sells a variety of craft parts, and Tsubakuro General Shop, which sells items handmade by artists. Make sure to walk around all the side streets so you can find the shop that is just right for you!

Visit the Unique Shops Around Tor Road

Sansei Bldg. 3F, 3-1-16 Sannomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

Interact with Animals at Kobe Oji Zoo

This is a popular zoo with a variety of animals from around the world including adorable giant panda bears, koala bears, polar bears, Asian elephants and penguins. There are approximately 800 animals of 130 different species living on the grounds. It is a relatively small zoo, so you can see popular animals, such as pandas, that are hard to see for the crowds at other zoos, relatively close up and without being rushed. There is also a Zoological Science Center including a library and an Amusement Park on the grounds, so both children and adults can have a whole day of fun.

Admission: 600 JPY/adult (high school age and older), free for junior high school students and younger

Interact with Animals at Kobe Oji Zoo

3-1 Oji-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

How was this guide to Kobe, packed with attractive spots to visit? Be sure to refer to this article to enjoy the food, sightseeing and shopping in this wonderful city.

*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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