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Kobe

Travel Guide

Places to visit in Kobe
with your Japan Rail Pass



Mosaic kobe

Kōbe, known for its wonderful meat culture, is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and is one of Japan’s largest cities. Kobe is a very important part of the country because of its busy port. The city also has a lot of Swedes living there, but why the Swedes choose Kobe in particular is unclear.

Kobe at nights

HARBORLAND

Kobe harborland is a popular waterfront area in central Kobe with a focus on shopping and entertainment. 

The area offers a romantic atmosphere during the evening and attracts a lot of tourists. Harborland is also home to several shopping centers and museums. Take the opportunity to enjoy its beautiful view from any of its restaurants.

Something nearby, worth visiting is Renga Soko. A narrow brick path along the water. This street is also teeming with restaurants, cafés and various types of cozy lighting.

Ropeway kobe

SHIN-KOBE ROPEWAY

A cable car that takes you up to the top of Mount Rokko’s southern valley. From the lift, you pass the Nunobiki waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden before reaching the viewpoint at the top of the peak. The lift stops halfway, just below the Nunobiki Herb Garden and allows travelers to hop off if desired.

Once at the top, you will find a spectacular vantage point, with all of Kobe in front of you. There is also a cafe, shops and toilets here. 

For those in a hurry, we then recommend taking a short hike down the mountain. For those of you who are not interested in the mountain’s beautiful garden, you can get off at the middle station and take yourself down from there. On the way down you pass two fine waterfalls, wonderful nature and several nice stops.

Shin-Kobe Ropeway station is only a 5-minute walk from Shin-Kobe Station.

Waterfall forest

NUNOBIKI FALLS

Several beautiful waterfalls, surrounded and hidden by greenery, can be found at the far end of the mountain Rokko. A recommendation is to go up the mountain via the Shin-Kobe Ropeway and then walk down to the waterfalls. You can find more information about the Shine-Kobe Ropeway in the paragraph above.

There are a total of four waterfalls to visit along the mountain, depending on how much you can manage to walk and in some cases climb. Ondaki, Mendaki, Tsusumigadaki and Izumoki.

Most people prefer Ondaki, as this is the easiest to get to. The other Tsusumigadaki waterfall is also reasonably easy to get to and is usually loved by photographers.

Kobe beef

KOBE BEEF

A world-renowned top class delicacy. Unfortunately, its price tag is also world-class. Expect to pay several thousand JPY per 100g of meat.

Getjrpass.com has on several occasions tested and evaluated La Shomon. The restaurant is very easy to find and is only a few minutes from Tarumi Station by foot (JR Kobe Line). When you arrive at the stop, take the western exit where you will find a square. La Shomon is located above the Lawson store.

Expect a world-class Kobe experience. The restaurant manager prepares the meat in front of you and presents what you ordered. 

The restaurant receives its order of meat daily and in a certain quantity. We therefore recommend that you contact the restaurant beforehand and book your meat in connection with booking a table. La Shomon reserves selected cuts of meat for you. It is also possible to buy regular meat on site at normal “yakiniku” prices. However, this is also top class. You will not be disappointed!

Onsen area

ARIMA ONSEN

Arima Onsen is a popular street for those who want to experience Japan’s bathing culture. The street consists of several hot springs in central Kobe. Surrounded by mountains and wonderful nature, you will find the perfect place for a day trip. The street may look modern today but has a lot to offer. The area is small enough to explore by foot and even has a museum for its hot springs.

Visitors can expect to be greeted by numerous ryokans, hot springs and bathhouses. Some ryokan also allow bathing without accommodation. Prices vary between 500 – 2,500 JPY.

China town gate

NANJINGMACHI

The city’s Chinatown in central Kobe and home to wonderful street food. The area is popular with tourists as it is surrounded by shopping streets and restaurants. However, we recommend eating in Nankinmachi, take the opportunity to enjoy some Chinese food and culture.

The area is accessible by foot and is a 5-minute walk from Motomachi Station and a 10-minute walk from Sannomiya Station.

Bridge over ocean

AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE

Take the chance and experience the magnificent Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. The world’s longest suspension bridge but also Japan’s highest bridge with its 283 meters above the water. The bridge spans 4 km across the Akashi Strait connecting Kobe with Awaji Island. 

The bridge is built for motorized traffic, so there is no footpath across the entire bridge, but one way to experience the bridge without a car is to visit the Maiko Marine Promenade, a 320-meter walking loop that stretches under the suspension bridge’s platform. The floor is made of glass and offers a fantastic view of the strait, 50 meters above the water. 

To reach Maiko Marine Promenade, you need to take an elevator up from the Kobe side of the bridge.

Panda eating zoo

OJI ZOO

A perfect outing for the family. Visit one of Kobe’s most famous zoos, with 850 animals of 150 different species. Most people choose to visit Oji Zoo to meet their two pandas, Tan Tan and Koko, but the zoo is also home to Japan’s oldest elephant, Sowoko, and there is an amusement park for the younger children. 

The park extends over 80,000 square meters and has different sections where you can, for example, pet rabbits and goats, or get a close look at the zoo’s tigers through a glass observatory.

Kobe harbour

KOBE PORT TOWER

Visit one of Kobe’s most iconic landmarks and experience an amazing view out over the city. Built in 1962, Kobe Port Tower is 108 meters tall and is an incredibly popular tourist attraction that was for a long time a unique building in all of Japan, thanks to its construction. 

On the ground levels there are restaurants, souvenir shops and ticket sales up to the upper levels of the tower. Once up there, you will find several different observation decks that offer a panoramic view of, among other things, Kobe’s harbor and Mount Rokko, as well as a 360-degree rotating café.

Sake factory

NADA SAKE DISTRICT

Something that should definitely be on your list is visiting a sake brewery. Many people associate Kobe with its meat, but the city is just as famous for its sake drink. Sake is a rice wine made with water from the nearby mountains.

Kobe’s Nada Saka District is Japan’s premier sake-producing region and home to major sake breweries that offer guided tours and tastings. It can be difficult to choose which brewery to visit, but the largest and most visited are Sawa-no-Tsuru Museum, Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Company and Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum.

Food market

MOTOMACHI SHOPPING STREET

Motomachi shopping street is a shopping street located in central Kobe and has a lot to offer. The street stretches 1.2 km between Motomachi Sta. and Kobe Sta. and is indoors so it’s perfect to visit on a rainy day.

Here you will find 300 shops that sell everything from clothes to souvenirs and books. If you get hungry, there are several cozy cafes and nice restaurants.

Tulips colorful

FRUIT FLOWER PARK

Michi-no-eki Kobe Fruit Flower Park Osawa as it’s full name is, is a large multifunctional park that has a lot to offer. Here you will find beautiful flower gardens where 10,000 tulips bloom in the spring. There is a fruit picking area where you can pick apples, grapes and peaches yourself.

Another area is called Farm Circus and is a market for local products such as fruit and vegetables, but also cafes and restaurants that use locally produced goods. For the younger children, there is Kobe Fairyland Amusement Park, which is a small amusement park with Ferris wheel, mini golf, playground and go-karts. 

Finally, there is the Kobe Hotel Fruit Flower, whose building is designed to mimic the Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum. The hotel has its own hot spring “Ozo Onsen” as well as a restaurant, souvenir shop and in the summer they also have their pool open.

Red old icon building

KITANO-CHO

Kitano-chō or Kitano Ijinkan as it is also called is an area of ​​Kobe that used to be inhabited by foreign merchants and diplomats, in connection with the flourishing of trade in the port of Kobe. 

Many of the houses they lived in have been preserved and are today museums that are open to the public to visit. Each house has its unique style linked to the land of the old house owners. There are, among others, the French house, the English house and the Dutch house.

Even if you don’t go inside any of the houses, it’s nice to walk around among the houses as even their facades are characteristic of their different countries.

Large statue

TETSUJIN 28 STATUE

Tetsujin 28 Statue or Gigantor as it is also known is a large iron statue that was built after the devastating earthquake in 1995 to inspire hope and give strength to the people of Kobe. 

Gigantor is a flying robot from a Japanese comic book “manga”, whose name was Tetsujin 28 Go. Mitsuteru Yokoyama, who created the manga in 1960, was born and raised in Kobe. 

You will find the statue in Wakamatsu park and it is easy to find as it is 18 meters high.

Anything else to know before arrival?

Don’t worry, we got you covered with the most important information below.

The city’s airport is called Kobe Airport (UKB) and is located 8 kilometers outside the city on an artificial island. Unfortunately, the airport handles almost only domestic flights. 

Most people go to Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka, and then travel by bullet train to Kobe and Shin-Kobe.

You don’t have to worry about holding tight to your valuables or walking around with larger sums of cash. Japanese are a very loyal and well-behaved people with very few thieves and the like. Watching younger children ride the subway by themselves home from school alone is not an uncommon sight to see in Japan. Of course, there are everywhere, but Japan has very few of them.

Order a JR pass if you plan to move to other cities. If you are only going to be in Osaka, you can do well to pay for your transport at a time. But most visitors take a week in Tokyo and then move on to Kyoto, Osaka and other popular cities. These train distances are quite expensive without JR passes, we therefeore recommend getting one before your departure to Japan. Getjrpass.com is an official ravel agent and seller of these Japan Rail Passes with no middle man.

The metro is well-functioning and cheap – a recommended means of transport. Tickets are very easily purchased by machine on site before entering or via pre-loaded Suica card. Most distances are combined with JR lines and Metro lines to reach your destination in the city.

Suica card – a fantastic IC card that can be preloaded with money to easily blip beverage machines, subway and other machines for a cashless and fast payment. Alternative to the card is Icoca Card & Pasmo Card.

Taxis are everywhere, but are quite expensive. The metro is so functional that Taxi is not needed.

The city has lots of beautiful parks. Enjoy good food and take it easy, enjoy your visit to Japan.

Japan uses Japanese Yen – JPY.

We recommend a smaller exchange before the trip at Forex or another currency exchanger to be able to pay for transport from the airport if you have decided to activate your Japan Rail Pass at a later date, for food and drink on site upon arrival and so on.

Safe ATMs for cash withdrawals can be found around the city. You don’t have to worry about walking around with larger amounts of cash as the country is very safe. Of course there are jerks in the country, but Japan has extremely few of them.

7-eleven usually has a very good exchange rate at their machines. When withdrawing larger sums such as thousands of euros, it can differ up to hundreds of euros against what you get at Forex if you exchange before the trip. We therefore recommend only bringing a smaller amount and withdrawing more cash on site.

Do not exchange at the airport. Visit a bank or 7-eleven in town.

Tips are not appreciated by the staff and can sometimes be considered disparaging.

If you want to tip, ask the staff beforehand if it is okay. Most likely, you will get a no, as tips are not part of their everyday life.

Looking for another city?

Visit out other travel guides and explore the fantastic country of Japan. We add new destinations weekly and please, feel free to suggest new destinations to the travel guide if you’ve been in Japan before. We appreciate all the suggestions!

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