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[KOBE] Chinatown, a must-see in Kobe!

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Kobe's Chinatown is a must-see! The red lanterns and the small food stalls, enveloped in clouds of steam, create a nostalgic atmosphere that takes us back to the Kobe of the past- a lively and vibrant city full of influences from other countries!

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Detail of the decorations of a chinese building.<br>
Detail of the decorations of a chinese building.

How to get there

Kobe's Chinatown is located in the center of Kobe, near Motomachi shopping street and reachable by a 15 minutes' walk from Sannomiya JR Station.

If you are planning to explore various areas in Kobe, such as Ijinkan (the Old Foreigner Settlement) or Nunobiki Waterfalls, using the bus, wheter the City Loop Bus or Port Loop Bus, is convenient! It's an affordable option that stops at major tourist spots in Kobe.

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Kobe and Foreign Influences

The colorful entrance of Chinatown (in the evening).<br>
The colorful entrance of Chinatown (in the evening).

As many of you will know, in the past Japan used implemented a policy known as "sakoku", restricting trade and contact with foreign nations. This policy persisted for nearly 200 years until 1853 when Perry arrived and forced Japan to open its gates to the world. Until then, Japan banned trading with other countries except for the Netherlands, China and Korea.

Kobe, a port city, opened its doors to foreigners in 1868.

Due to a significant population from Nanking (China) the neighborhood became known as "Nankinmachi". In the 1920s and 1930s, Nankinmachi was primarly a residential area, but today it is predominantly full of food businesses!

Some deliciously looking meat buns and other foods.<br>
Some deliciously looking meat buns and other foods.

It is always full of people, both with eager appetites and admiring gazes, as the surroundings exude a deliciously nostalgic charm.

The main street is decorated by chinese red lanterns.<br>
The main street is decorated by chinese red lanterns.

A foodie experience

As we said before, Chinatown is famous for food businesses, so if you are a food lover this will be your paradise.

Chinatown offers a combination of casual street food options and excellent sit-down restaurants (everything is pretty cheap). There's a wide variety of Chinese culinary delights to explore, including different noodle dishes, steamed meat buns (nikuman), meats, fish, fried rice, sweet potatoes, tapioca drinks, and more.

During my recent visit I couldn't resist to try a steamed bun that resembles an adorable panda!

The inside is a sweet paste made of black sesame seeds, while the outside is a soft steamed bread, perfect for a quick snack and for taking good aesthetic pictures!

Things to do near Chinatown

Go to a game center!

A game center<br>
A game center

During my recent visit, I went with a friend to this game center inside Chinatown (it's near the grand entrance on the right side of the road).

The staff was incredibly friendly, so we chatted a lot while my friend and I were playing various games! I would say that visiting a ufo catcher, in a sense, is an authentic "japanese experience", as many Japanese people in their free time go to arcades, game centers and purikura (cute photo booths) to have fun. It's a great place to relax with friends or with your partner!

The ufo catchers<br>
The ufo catchers

The colors of the ufo catchers were kind of cyberpunk (super reccomended for a fun photoshoot with your friends!).

Walk inside Motomachi shopping street!

In Kobe Motomachi shopping street you can find everything! The cheap 100 yen shop Daiso, cute clothes, restaurants and souvenirs for your family or friends! Also, it is very convenient in a rainy day: in fact, you can still enjoy the city shops and the scenery of the city without being exposed to the bad weather.

Visit Kobe's Port and enjoy the scenery!

After a brief 10-minute walk from Chinatown, you will reach the Port of Kobe, one of the most important part of the city interwined with Kobe's history. This port is the origin of Kobe's foreign influnces, still evident in both Chinatown and the the Old Foreigner Settlement (Ijinkan).

Here you can see Kobe's Tower, the Maritime Museum, the Memorial of Kobe's 1995 Earthquake, the "Be Kobe" sign, Starbucks and Harborland Park!

Why should I visit Chinatown?

I think that if you are visiting Japan, some of you might wonder why you should visit Chinatown in Kobe.

The reason why this place is a must-see doesn't only relate to its beauty; it's indeed a beautiful scenery well-known for its aesthetic nocturnal atmosphere and delicious food. However, it's also a crucial part of Kobe's history!

Kobe, being a port city, had a significant connection with foreign countries, especially for an island nation like Japan. Kobe was the stage for a mixture of cultures that are now visible in the Old Foreigner Settlement and the large Chinatown near the port area.

Nowadays, Kobe is considered by Japanese people 'oshare', which can be translated as 'fashionable' or 'trendy'. This is attributed to the presence of many fashion influences from other countries and Western cafes.

In conclusion, if you want to grasp the authentic multicultural spirit of Kobe, Chinatown and the Old Foreigner Settlement are a must!


If you want to see more pictures or read fun facts about Kobe and Himeji, take a look at our Instagram page!

Also, if you have any questions and want to ask for reccomendations or pieces of advice, feel free to comment under our instagram posts of write a message in our DMs.

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Have loads of fun in Kobe!!!

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