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Things to do in Kobe Japan

Being the sixth-largest city in Japan, there are plenty of things to do in Kobe. Many take day trips from Kyoto or Osaka, just to taste the famed Kobe beef, but we really wanted to experience this city and find out what it has to offer. Thus, during our Japan itinerary, we decided to spend several days exploring the rather different and multicultural Kobe. 

Amongst the most popular things to do in Kobe, is to enjoy panoramic views of the city at night. All Japanese cities look stunning from above, and Kobe was certainly no exception. As we love soft adventure travel, we very much enjoyed a trip to Mount Rokko, which yet again, offers great photographic opportunities as well as 360 degrees views of the heavily urbanized Hanshin region. 

Arima Onsen

The Arima Onsen is considered to be one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts. Even though Arima Onsen looks pretty modern, there are lots of narrow alleyways awaiting to be discovered around the town. You will find many wooden buildings and what's beautiful is that you can explore the whole town entirely on foot. You can enjoy the hot spring baths either in the public bath houses or at a ryokan. I strongly encourage you to experience an onsen, as in my opinion, it is one of the most relaxing, fantastic and liberating things you can do in Japan. 

 

Mount Rokko

Mt. Rokko offers over 100 hiking courses with plenty of easy trails. The trail we did was only 4 hours and it started from the Ashiyagwa Station. You will get your first scenic point at the Kazafuki-Iwa, where you can admire the whole Osaka Bay. As you go up, you can stop by the Ikken-chaya, where there is a tea house. You can get some snacks from the vending machines and use the bathrooms. Keep on going until you see the sign which announces that you reached the top of Mt. Rokko. From Mount Rokko, you can take the cable car to the Arima Onsen and back. 

Kobe Port Tower

This is the landmark of the city, a sightseeing tower with an observation deck which offers panoramic views of Kobe. The tower reaches 108 metres. Best to explore during night time, so you can enjoy those vibrant night time lights. 

Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042, Japan
Hours: 9 AM - 9 PM
Admission: FREE

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is perhaps the best thing to do in Kobe if you are a foodie traveller. Kobe beef refers to beef from Tajima cattle born in the Hyogo prefecture. To fulfil all conditions, the beef must have a specific marbling ratio (called BMS) of level 6 or above and a meat quality of 4 (out of 5). The meat is a delicacy and it is renowned for its flavour, tenderness and fatty texture. It is meant to melt in your mount and reach some sort of food nirvana. When it comes to Japanese food, there is no room for error, so Kobe beef really is as amazing as they say. There are a variety of restaurants selling Kobe Beef and as you can imagine, the prices for a good quality portion of Kobe beef will be expensive. Some restaurants will try and sell lower quality beef which is not correctly labelled, but by making a reservation with a well known and authentic restaurant, you can minimise these risks.

Kobe Beef Restaurants you could try:

Tor Road Steak Aoyama
Address: 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042, Japan

KOKUBU Steak House
1 Chome-21-2 Kitanagasadori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0012, Japan

Kobe Ishidaya
1 Chome-2-4 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0004, Japan

Kobe Beef Japan

Akashi Kaikyō Bridge

Who would have thought that the longest suspension bridge will be in Japan, in the city of Kobe? There is a Bridge Exhibitor Centre at the foot of the bridge, where you can learn about the planning and construction. It also has the Maiko Marine Promenade which has Observatory hallways under the bridge platform. Pretty cool, right?

Address: Higashimaikocho, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 655-0047, Japan

Nunobiki Falls

Do you remember our trip to Nikko where we went to see the Kegon Falls? In Japanese literature and art, it is said that the Nunobiki Falls is one of the greatest divine falls, alongside the Kegon and Nachi Falls. It is pretty amazing to be able to see something which has such significance in Japanese culture. Nunobiki waterfalls comprise four separate falls: Ondaki, Mendaki, Tsusumigadaki, and Izumoki.

Address: Fukiaicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

Kobe Harbourside Japan Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrines is one of the oldest in Japan. This Shinto shrine was founded by Empress Jingū around the 3rd century AD. There are two Noh plays which are performed at the Ikuta Shrine on a regular basis as well as during the Autumn Festival.

Address: 1 Chome-2-1 Shimoyamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0011, Japan

Earthquake Museum

Not just a museum but a memorial in honour of over 5000 people who died as a result of the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995. The museum itself contains a large screen theatre with realistic images of the devastation, a documentary film about the recovery process and various interactive games to prevent further disasters.

Address: 1 Chome-5-2 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 651-0073, Japan
Hours: 9:30 to 17:30 (Mondays are closed)
Admission: 600 yen

Sorakuen Garden

If you too love green spaces and perfectly Japanese trimmed, then a visit to Sorakuen is a great thing to do in Kobe. The garden was completed in the 20th century and it was built on the residence of Taijiro Kodera, father of former City Mayor Kenkichi Kodera. After coming under the ownership of the city of Kobe, it was named Sorakuen and it was open to the public. The grounds are full of nature, with a cycad wood, large camphor trees and some beautiful maples which look stunning during Autumn.

Address: Japan, 〒650-0004 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, 中央区中山手通5丁目31
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Admission: 300 yen

Garden Oiran Samurai Kimono

Kitano

Lovely city district located right at the foot of the Rokko mountain range. You can visit various houses although note that many will charge an admission fee. You can also get combination tickets to see multiple houses. You can enjoy a quiet walk and sit down in the many restaurants and cafes or shop in any of the boutiques.

Here are some of the houses we recommend:

England House

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 750 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)

Yokan Nagaya

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)

Ben's House

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)

Uroko House

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 1050 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)

Sake Time

Love to sample Japanese sake? Kobe is the perfect place for it as the Nada district is famous for sake. It is famed due to the high-quality rice, great water and favourable weather conditions. You can explore the district in about half a day, enjoy modern breweries and various sake tastings. It's a great time to learn about sake and ways of producing this epic beverage.

Japan sake barrels

Shin Kobe Ropeway

You can take the ropeway from the Shin Kobe Station all the way to the Mount Rokke. Around, there are various trail opportunities. You can walk through the woods, enjoy the 43-meter tall Nunobiki Waterfall, and visit the Miharashi Observatory.

Kobe Harborland

Kobe Harbourland is for shopping and entertainment enthusiasts at the waterfront of Kobe's port area. Here, you will come across various shops, restaurants and cafes as well as various amusement rides. Here, you have three malls, Mosaic, South and North Mall. The place looks fantastic during the evening when the Kobe Port Tower and Maritime Museum are illuminated. Next to the Mosaic, you can enjoy a ride on the Ferris wheel and photograph the water-front from above. Don't forget to stroll around the Gaslight Street after dark which has old fashioned gas street lamps and electric lights.

Chinatown

Chinatown or Nankinmachi is located in central Kobe. This was developed by Chinese merchants and it is now a popular tourists attraction. You can find various shops and restaurants around. You can, of course, order the popular Chinese steamed buns as well as various other Chinese dishes. The place looks especially nice after dark when most shops close and the streets become quite eerie.

Kobe City Museum

The museum was opened in 1982 and it houses the world's largest collection of Southern Barbarian Art alsk called Namban Art. The rotating exhibitions include various paintings and wonderful screens depicting scenes from early Japanese contacts with foreign traders.

Address: Japan, 〒650-0034 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Kyomachi, 24
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (9:30 to 17:30 during special exhibitions)
Closed: Mondays (or the following day when Monday is a national holiday), New Year holidays
Admission: 200 yen (when there is no special exhibition), more expensive during special exhibitions

Kobe City Front

Hyogo Museum of Art

If you love modern art, then you can't miss the Hyogo Museum of Art located on the waterfront. It was built as part of the Earthquake recovery. This museum is the largest of its kind in western Japan and hosts exhibitions of paintings, prints, sculptures and artwork by Japanese and world artists.

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Wakinohamakaigandori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 651-0073, Japan
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays during special exhibitions)
Closed: Mondays (or the following day when Monday is a national holiday), New Year holidays
Admission: 510 yen (permanent exhibition), admission fee varies for special exhibitions

Kobe Arboretum

As nature lovers, we love visiting gardens, arboretums and all sort of serene spaces where flora is plentiful. The Kobe Arboretum is no exception as it is home to a huge variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. The Arboretum is known as the Kobe City Forestal Botanical Garden and it has over 142 hectares worth of garden.

Address: Japan, 〒651-1242 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, Kita Ward, Yamadacho Kamitanigami, 長尾1−2
Hours: 90:00 to 17:00
Closed: Wednesdays
Fee: 300 yen

Rokko Island

Rokko Island is a major artificial island located in the Port of Kobe. The island contains hotels, markets, a cool water amusement park, schools, the Kobe Fashion museum and various Port facilities. The island is tiny only 3.4 km by 2 km, but enough to draw various tourists keen to see one of the hardest hit areas during the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

Kobe Animal Kingdom

The Kobe Animal Kingdom is located on Port Island in Kobe. Here, you can see Toucans and a beautiful green house interior with a pond covered by water lilies. In the park, visitors are able to touch and feed birds.

Address: Japan, 〒650-0047 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, 港島南町7丁目1−9
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00

Toucan Kobe Animal Kingdom

Rokko Botanical Garden

The Rokko botanical garden is a little gem located on Mount Rokko. There are over 1500 alpine plants from Japan as well as the Himalayas. Enjoy flowers year round, especially in the cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.

Open for business: Mar.18th to Nov.23th
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (last entry 16:30)
Closed: Sep.7th
Fee: 620 yen

Nunobiki Herb Garden

Located on Mount Rokko, the herb garden is accessed by the Shin-Kobe Ropeway gondola. A highly recommended experience with a pretty garden and wonderful view. If you love photography, this is definitely a great place to visit.

Address: Japan, 〒650-0002 Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Kitanocho, 1−4−3
Hours: 09:00 to 20:10

What did you think?

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Responses

M
Ms. Roboto
06 Mar 2018

Awesome post! You've got some great spots on the list. For amazing Kobe beef, try MIyasu in Sannomiya. A day trip to Awaji Island is super fun too!

J
Jess
12 Mar 2018

Wow! I really loved reading this blog, it provided me with a lot of material about Kobe. I am currently doing an assignment on Kobe and was wondering if you had any recommendations in ways Kobe could improve as a destination?