Kobe might not be the first city that shows up in travel guides about Japan, but it is starting to garner increasing curiosity and appreciation.
If you travel to Osaka, Kyoto and the surrounding area, and if you have enough time to explore, save one day to explore the beautiful city of Kobe, standing by the seashore. There are plenty of sightseeing spots to make sure the day spent is totally worthwhile.
Sannomiya and Ikuta Shrine
Sannomiya is considered to be one of the main areas in Kobe, so it makes an excellent starting point for your visit to the city. Even though Kobe has a subway line, you can easily walk to most of the main tourist spots.
Stepping out in Sannomiya, you are immediately bombarded by multiple game arcades, shopping malls and restaurants that claim to sell the infamous Kobe beef. While exploring this part of the city, I recommend paying a visit to Ikuta Shrine (link in Japanese), where you can suddenly escape from the modern life and dive into a whole different world of Japanese traditions. If you go there on weekends, you may be lucky enough to witness a traditional Japanese wedding.
Motomachi Shopping Street and Nankinmachi Chinatown
While exploring your way through the city, make sure you stroll in the Motomachi Shopping Street, the most known shopping street in Kobe. Even if you don’t have any intentions of buying anything, it is interesting to check what typical objects and traditional delights all these stores and thematic cafes have to offer.
Very close to Motomachi is Nankinmachi Chinatown (link in Japanese). It’s a long, narrow street with a small plaza in the middle that will make you feel as if you were in a different country. It is filled with Chinese stores and restaurants, which is a great spot to grab some lunch.
Meriken Park and Kobe Harborland
Upon leaving the Chinatown, head to the bay area, where stands one of the city’s landmarks: Kobe Port Tower. Meriken Park and Kobe Harborland are a wide-open area where you can enjoy some fresh air by the seashore as you watch cruise ships pass by and people enjoying themselves. In Meriken Park, there are also shopping malls, Kobe Maritime Museum, and a monument to commemorate the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.
Kitano Ijinkan-gai and Mt. Rokko
In the afternoon, you can take some time to adventure up the hill towards Mt. Rokko. At the foot of the mountain, you will find houses that are part of Kitano Ijinkan-gai, a European-styled neighborhood where foreign merchants and politicians settled after the port of Kobe opened to the foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. Some of these houses accept tourists for a small entrance fee.
Finally, to finish your big day in Kobe, enjoy the sunset at Mt. Rokko. Not only can you get an amazing view from up there while taking the ropeway, but also it is a perfect spot to relax while exploring the exhibits you’ll find at the top or to enjoy hiking trails and waterfalls along the way.
A. Access to Sannomiya from the Osaka area
- If you have the JR Pass, take the JR Kobe Line from Osaka Station bound for Himeji and get off at Sannomiya Station.
- If you do not have the JR Pass, take the Hankyu Kobe Line from Hankyu Umeda Station and get off at Kobe Sannomiya Station. This option costs ¥320 and is cheaper than the JR, which costs ¥410.
- Both options take about 30 minutes.
B. Ikuta Shrine
- Address: 1-2-1 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0011
- Access: A ten-minute walk from Sannomiya Station.
- Website: https://ikutajinja.or.jp/ (in Japanese)
C. Motomachi Shopping Street
- Address: 3-13-1 Motomachidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0022
- Access: A two-minute walk from Motomachi Station.
- Website: https://www.kobe-motomachi.or.jp/about-us/en/
D. Nankinmachi Chinatown
- Address: 1-3-18 Sakaemachidori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0023
- Access: A five-minute walk from Motomachi Station, a ten-minute from Sannomiya Station, or a five-minute from Meriken Park.
- Website: http://www.nankinmachi.or.jp/ (in Japanese)
E & F. Kobe Port Tower and Meriken Park
- Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042
- Access: A 15-minute walk from Motomachi Station or a five-minute walk from the subway Minato Motomachi Station.
- Website: http://www.kobe-port-tower.com/language/english.html
G. Kobe Harborland
- Address: 1 Higashikawasaki-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0044
- Access: Kobe Harborland starts just outside of the JR Kobe Station and the subway Harborland Station. Alternatively, it can be reached from Meriken Park in a five-minute walk.
- Website: http://www.harborland.co.jp/en/
H. Kitano Ijinkan-gai
- Address: 2-10 Yamamotodori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0003
- Access: A 15-minute walk from Sannomiya Station or a ten-minute walk from the JR Shin-Kobe Station.
- Website: https://www.kobeijinkan.com/en/
I. Mt. Rokko
- Address: Motoyamachomori, Higashinada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 658-0000
- Access: From Sannomiya Station, take the Hankyu Kobe Line to Rokko Station (7 minutes, ¥190), from which it is a ten-minute bus ride on the bus number 16 to the base station of the Rokko Cablecar. The cable-car ride up the mountain takes ten minutes and costs ¥590 one way or ¥1000 for a round trip ticket.
- Website: https://www.rokkosan.com/en/