Translated by MATCHA-PR
How To Enjoy The Fascinating City Of Kobe
Written by MATCHA-PR
This article will give you detailed information about the sightseeing destinations in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, such as Harborland, Ikuta Shrine, Chinatown and more.
A Guide to Enjoying Kobe
The city of Kobe, located in Hyogo prefecture, is famous for its many places worth seeing, as well as for its unique food specialties. Kobe's most famous sightseeing spots are concentrated in the downtown area, such as the Sannomiya and Motomachi areas and the bay. If you use your time wisely, you can enjoy many of the sights and delicious food that Kobe has to offer. Even outside of the central hub of the city, there are famous sightseeing places such as Mt. Rokko, and Arima Onsen. You can enjoy your trip to an even greater extent by staying over the course of several days.
We will efficiently make our way through the heart of Kobe and reveal some little-known facts about the city in this article.
Kobe - A Major Port City in Western Japan
Kobe is situated in the southern part of Hyogo, and is the capital of the prefecture. The city consists of nine administrative wards called ku in Japanese: Chuo-ku, Tarumi-ku, Suma-ku, Nagata-ku, Hyogo-ku, Nada-ku, Higashi-Nada-ku, Kita-ku and Nishi-ku. Of these wards, Chuo-ku is particularly notable for its many tourist destinations. Kobe is also known for its many slopes, which are due to the city’s proximity to both the sea and mountains. For this reason, climbing to the top of a hill in Kobe will allow you an unbroken view of the cityscape and the sea.
How to Reach Kobe
We will introduce you to the most convenient ways to reach Kobe. There are many options, but here we will talk about going to Kobe by Shinkansen (bullet train) (via Tokyo or Shin-Osaka), by domestic flight (via Haneda Airport) and by international flight (via Kansai International Airport).
- By Shinkansen (From Tokyo or Shin-Osaka Station）
You can reach Sannomiya Station, located in central Kobe, in about three hours. From Shin-Osaka Station you can arrive at Sannomiya Station in about 20 minutes. If you go from Shin-Osaka to Sannomiya station by regular train, the trip takes about 40 minutes.
- By domestic flight (From Haneda Airport)
It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get from Haneda to Kobe Airport. However, since Osaka-Itami Airport is also close by Kobe city and its flights are more frequent, we also recommend going through Itami. It takes about one hour to get to central Kobe from Itami.
- By international flight (From Kansai International Airport)
If coming to Kobe from overseas, Kansai International Airport is the most convenient. You can catch a train from there, and it will take slightly more than 90 minutes to reach Kobe.
You can also travel by regular trains or by the high-speed boat, the Bay Shuttle, which connects KIX (Kansai International Airport) and Kobe Airport.
You can reserve Shinkansen tickets for Tokyo-Kobe online. We suggest using the JR Pass if you are making multiple trips around Japan; the pass can be reserved online is available in 7, 14, and 21-day increments and allows holders unlimited rides on JR trains and the Shinkansen.
Ride A Kobelin Rental Cycle to Smoothly Get Around Kobe's Steep Slopes
To make the most of your time going from sight to sight, we recommend using the bike share program "Kobelin." You can rent a bike for 30 minutes for 100 yen, and return it at any Kobelin bike port. The bikes have an electric pedal assist, so you can comfortably bike up Kobe's many hilly streets.
It is a very handy bike, with a display that shows remaining battery life. You can manually choose the level of the electric pedal.
You can unlock it with the code given to you at registration. Before using a Kobelin bike, you must register as a Kobelin member. You can do that on this site.
The Weathercock House, a Western-Style Brick Mansion Representative of Kobe
The Weathercock House is a historical building in Kitano, Kobe city. In 1904, it was built as a house for a German trader. The building's design features a brick exterior and a weathercock perched on the roof. The external architecture was done in Western style, but the interior of the mansion was built to suit Japan's natural climate. For example, the windows slide horizontally back and forth instead of opening outward, as though they were traditional Japanese windows. The mansion is also called the Old Thomas Residence after its former owner.
You can get a great view of the city from the second floor window.
The Nunobiki Herb Garden: A Wide View of Kobe
At the Kobe Municipal Nunobiki Herb Garden you can enjoy different herbs and flowers with the change of the seasons. Ride the ropeway up to the top of the mountain and look at the wonderful cityscape of Kobe while surrounded by the relaxing scent of herbs.
To get to the Herb Garden, take the ropeway shown in this picture.
It opens from 9:30 AM.
Get your ticket and hop on.
One adult ticket: 1400 yen for roundtrip (900 yen one-way)
One child ticket: 700 yen for roundtrip (450 yen one-way)
After 5:00 PM, there is a "night" ticket that costs 800 yen for a round trip for adults, and 500 yen for a round trip for children.
There are tulips like the ones in the picture above. However you will able to see roses, lavender and other flowers depending on the season.
Request A Divine Blessing For You and Your Special Someone at Ikuta Shrine
Kobe’s Ikuta Shrine is famous for its connection to the bonds of marriage and romantic relationships. It has a long history, having made an appearance in Japan’s oldest written chronicles - the Nihon-shoki - and receiving blessings here is popular even with the locals. It is also close to the station, with many worshipers coming to visit every day. It gets extremely crowded around the New Year.
“Mame-maki”, a bean-scattering ritual, is performed on the shrine grounds during the Setsubun festival of Ikuta shrine, which takes place every year on February 3rd. This unique cultural ritual called "mame-maki" is a prayer to ward off unhappiness and misfortune in the new year by throwing beans. (Beans are said to bring good luck and ward off evil.) Ikuta Shrine’s Setsubun festival is famous throughout the rest of Japan, and every year, many notable personalities join this event.
Full of Life: The Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping Street
The Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai, the shopping street where all of Kobe’s traffic networks converge, is always bustling with activity. With the latest trendy items and all sorts of stores assembled along this street, many people from Kobe and the surrounding areas do their shopping here.
The Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai is home to handicrafts and stationery stores, famous Kobe-branded Western confectionery stores, gigantic book stores, fashion boutiques popular with young people, and all sorts of other establishments. The shopping arcade is also unusual in Japan for having two levels.
Nankinmachi, the Chinese district in Kobe, is made up of roughly a hundred shops. It is one of Japan’s three great Chinatowns. Chinese cooking ingredients, accessories, food and all sorts of diverse goods can be found for sale in the shops around this popular sightseeing destination.
Since Nankinmachi gathers these hundred shops into an area of about 200 meters from east to west and 100 meters from north to south, a fun thing to do is to wander from store to store and stall to stall, buying new things to eat as you go.
Spend Some Quality Seaside Time At Harborland
The Harborland area takes great advantage of the fact that Kobe is a city by the sea. The ocean, the Port Tower and the monuments make fabulous scenic backgrounds for photos, and this area is very popular among people who like taking pictures.
People say that the Port Tower is the symbol of Kobe Harborland. When looking out over the night view of Kobe, the lit-up Port Tower is also a beautiful sight to behold.
Get Your Fill Of Fantastic Food in Kobe
Kobe Beef: One of Japan’s Three Great Wagyū Varieties
There is plenty of amazing food that you can only sample when in Kobe, but we strongly suggest that you get some Kobe beef when you visit. The label of “Kobe beef” is only given to beef from Tajima cows - raised in Hyogo Prefecture - which has met certain fixed criteria. Kobe beef is considered one of the most important three Wagyū (Japanese beef) varieties for its high quality.
At some restaurants, they will grill the Kobe beef right in front of you before serving it. We recommend making a reservation before going to a popular Kobe beef restaurant.
*The photos in this section have been created in cooperation with Kobe Plaisir.
Kobe’s Elegant Sweets Scene
Kobe is well-known throughout Japan for its abundance of popular establishments that specialize in sweets and desserts. Many of these sweets are a feast not just for the tastebuds, but for the eyes as well. We would like to introduce a particular gem that can be found exclusively in Kobe.
This is the mille-feuille from Mikage Takasugi. Its appearance is luxurious and it tastes even better.
This is the Denmark cheesecake from Kannonya. It has a unique oven-baked texture, and a fascinating taste.
One of Three Great Night Views in Japan
Blessed by its position between mountains and the sea, at night the cityscape of Kobe glitters like a jewel. The lovely nighttime views from Mount Rokkō and Mount Maya will take your breath away, and the moonlight spreading across the curves of the bay is a gorgeous sight. In 2015, Kobe’s night view was acknowledged for its beauty when it was recognized as one of the Three Great Night Views of Japan.
What do you think? We introduced a few spots in Kobe, but there are plenty of other fascinating places to visit which lie out of the city center. Here are a few more.
The Best Place in Japan to Enjoy Sake - Nada Go-gō (Nada-ku)
Nada Go-gō, Hyogo prefecture’s sake production region, comprises five districts: Nishi-gō, Mikage-gō, Uozaki-gō, Nishinomiya-gō and Imazu-gō. The start of the sake brewing in this area goes back to the Muromachi era (1336-1573).
At Nada Go-gō, the sake brewing cellars retain the same appearance they had long ago, and as you walk down the street, the faint scent of sake wafts in the air. Each sake brewer has their own unique choice sake to try, and each type of sake has its own personality. You can also come in contact with traditional brewing techniques through the manufacturing process.
A place overflowing with charm, every visit to Nada Go-gō is a chance to encounter past brewing traditions and make new sake discoveries.
Japan’s Oldest Famous Hot Spring, Arima Onsen (Kita-ku)
The oldest famous hot spring in Japan, Arima Onsen, has been cherished by a wide range of people throughout its history, from the nation’s rulers all the way down to the common people. Arima Onsen is a mere 30 minutes away from Kobe/Sannomiya area. After you have a long soak in the hot spring, you can enjoy a meal of Japanese food, and meet a geisha as she performs zashiki asobi or "parlor-playing", which is a traditional Japanese way to entertain guests with dances and games. You can also enjoy the ancient townscape outside.
Akashi Kaikyō, The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge (Tarumi-ku)
Image courtesy of Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company
The Akashi Kaikyō Suspension Bridge took ten years to complete, and is recognized as the longest suspension bridge in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. As the main traffic vein from Honshū (main island) to Awaji-shima island and Shikoku island, cars are constantly coming and going over the bridge. There are illumination lamps attached to the cables holding up the bridge, and they change color depending on the time and season, so it is a picturesque sight at night.
Since Kobe is easy to access by Shinkansen, plane or Bay Shuttle, how about taking the time to visit it? We are sure that you will love it.
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