Surrounded by the majestic Rocco mountain range and the splendor of Seto Inland sea, Kobe, the capital of Hyogo prefecture, is considered one of Japan’s most attractive and cosmopolitan cities thanks to its picturesque harbor views, Western architecture, culinary scene and diverse cultures.
With 1.5 million inhabitants including 44.500 foreign residents from more than 144 countries, Kobe has well been known throughout Japan as being as an “international city”.
The sixth-largest city in the country once was one of the biggest ports in the orient and one of the first Japanese cities to open up to the Western world in the 19th century alongside the ports of Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Nigata. There is a distinctively exotic feel that one can only experience in a port city.
The magnificent night view over Kobe from Mount Maya, the highest peak of the Rokko Mountains, has been named the ‘Ten Million Dollar Night View’ as you can see both Osaka and Kobe bathed in moonlight. In 2015, the beauty of the view was recognized as one of the Three Great Views of Japan.
Meriken park is a lovely waterfront park in the bustling port area. At the centre of the park stands the Kobe Maritime Museum. Designated to represent the waves of the ocean and the sails of a ship, the museum is one of the biggest maritime museums in the world.
As we strolled around the park, we encountered various models of maritime artifacts that were on display. The world´s first superconducting electromagnetic propulsion boat named the Yamato 1 was one of them.
The park is also home to the iconic Kobe Port Tower. Resembling a Japanese hand drum, the tower painted in deep crisom is the very first building with pipe structure in the word. The 108m-high landmark tower was opened in 1963 and was awarded a prize of Architectural Institute Of Japan in the same year. Standing at its highest point, we enjoyed a 360-degree panorama of both the harbor and the cityscape.
Kobe’s flagship shopping district
Located between the JR Kobe station and the waterfront of the city’s port area, the large-scale complex offers a wide selection of restaurants, shops, cafes, amusements, and cinemas. The most prominent shopping complex in Kobe Harborland is Umie which consists of three parts: Mosaic, South Mall and North Mall.
Designed to resemble a Mediterranean village, Mosaic is a third-story building facing the Port of Kobe. At the southern end of Mosaic stands a Ferris wheel, the main attraction of Kobe‘s waterfront. From the top, we captured wonderful shots of the Kobe Port Tower with its unique hyperbolic design and the Harboland waterfront.
Kobe: The Gourmet City
Did you know that Kobe is Japan´s largest sake-producing region? The mineral-rich water called Miyamizu that flows from Rokko Mountain provides the ideal water for sake brewing. Visiting one of the many breweries in Kobe’s Nada district will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of the area as you learn the traditions and methods of this ancient craft.
Kobe is also the ultimate destination for the finest beef. Probably the most widely-known regional specialty food in Japan, Kobe beef comes from the ancient province of Tajima, now named Hyogo Prefecture, of which Kobe is the capital. Considered a gift from heaven, the prized delicacy is renowned throughout the world for its intense marbling, unique tenderness, succulent flavor and melting texture.
Ah! And don´t forget to try some delicious desserts like the famous Kobe Cheese Cake or the Magic Pot Pudding from Frantz, one of the most famous confectioneries in the city.
Kobe Cheese Cake
The zelkova tree-lined boulevard is beautifully lit up in the evenings by old-fashioned gas lamps and electric lights. As we leisurely strolled along the romantic Gaslight Street, we came across a lovely sculpture of the King.
Kobe´s Night Scene
When the night falls Kobe glitters like a jewel. The sparkling night view of the port is simply amazing. Kobe is also known as the heart of Jazz Culture in Japan. Considered the birthplace of the Japanese jazz scene, a visit to the legendary Sone jazz club should be a must.
During our visit, we also had the opportunity to enjoy a summer festival with locals which definitely became an unforgettable memory in our lives!!