The port town of Kobe connects Japan with the rest of the world. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Japan with its townscape filled with an exotic foreign atmosphere and scenery surrounded by ocean waters and mountains. Enjoy a pleasant stroll through this city fostered by its unique culture where Japan and the West have been combined.
Sannomiya -- <Kobe Municipal Subway 5 mins.> -- Shinkobe -- <Shin-Kobe Ropeway, 10 mins. by walk> -- [Nunobiki Herb Gardens] -- <10 mins. by walk, Shin-Kobe Ropeway> -- Shinkobe -- <by walk or Kobe Municipal Bus 2 mins.> -- [Kitano Ijinkan] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Kobe TOR Road] -- [Ikuta-jinja Shrine] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- Sannomiya -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Kobe City Museum] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Meriken Park]
*The times required with public transportation are approximate.
Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens
About 90 different kinds of herbs are planted in this Herb Park, and there is also a cafe where you can enjoy herbal tea, a restaurant serving herbal dishes and a shop with herbal products.
Go down the mountain to visit the Kitano area where the homes of early foreign settlers still exist. You could walk, but the Kobe City Loop Bus will get you there within only a couple of minutes from the ropeway station.
When Kobe Port opened in 1868, residences for foreigners became necessary. So, by the end of the 19th century, about 200 houses had been constructed on the hill. Most of them were damaged in the Kobe Earthquake of 1995, but repairs were made and about 60 homes remain, forming a unique scene for the area. Weathercock House, which was the residence of a German trade merchant, Rhine House and Yellow-Green House are open to the public.
The slope running down towards the port is called TOR Road. Foreigners who used to live in Ijinkan (residences of early foreign settlers) commuted this road between their home and workplace. Now, there are Western-style restaurants, delicatessens and so on, proving that Kobe has always incorporated new cultures from foreign countries.
Turning left off TOR Road, you’ll see the Ikuta-jinja Shrine, the guardian of Kobe. The Ikuta-jinja Shrine was founded in 201 A.D. The current entire area of Chuo-ku in Kobe City used to be an area for shrines, so it is believed that the city was named Kobe from “Kanbe”, which means place of God.
Kobe City Museum
Meander down San-no-miya Street and enjoy a little shopping. Visit the Kobe City Museum where you will learn about the town’s history from ancient to modern times, and view the paintings and craftworks on exhibition.
About 5 minutes from the museum is “Meriken Park” at Kobe Port where large ships come to dock. The night view from the Kobe Port Tower at 108 m (354 feet) high is superb, and the tower lit up in the night sky is a symbol of Kobe. Several cruise boats leave from the port, including the “Luminous Kobe 2”, the largest restaurant ship in Japan. Imagine how wonderful it would be to have dinner while enjoying the night view. Kobe’s Chinatown, known as Nankinmachi, is near Motomachi Station, and is also well worth a visit.
Bread and Sweets
Kobe is the home of Japan’s bread culture. It all started when shops offering foods such as bread and Western confectionaries to foreigners who immigrated to Japan began to appear with the opening of Kobe Port in 1867. To this day, Kobe still remains a treasure chest of delicious bread and sweets.