Kobe City Guides - Things to do in Kobe


Kobe is one of Japan’s most prominent international cities. In Kobe, there are many hot spots popular among foreign tourists, and also many great places to eat. Let us introduce you to the fascination of Kobe City.

What is Kobe?

What is Kobe?
Along with Yokohama, Kobe is a representative port town of Japan. Since the Meiji restoration when Japan opened diplomatic relations, many foreigners started living in Kobe, and an area called “foreign settlement” was established. So tailored for foreigners, many facilities and also restaurants that served international food started business in Kobe. To this day, the city with a foreign ambience and a sophisticated townscape still fascinates people.

History of Kobe

History of Kobe
Kobe was the gateway to foreign countries since the Heian period (794-1185). This history came to a halt temporarily when Japan isolated itself from the outside world during the Edo period (1603-1868), but since the Meiji restoration in 1868 when the country opened, many foreigners started to visit Japan again, and so Kobe developed into what was called the largest port city of the Orient.

Kobe took on great damage during WWII, but after the war, it recovered its momentum as the gateway of western Japan as it grew economically. In 1995, the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake occurred, and Kobe again suffered great damage. However, the locals put a lot of effort into restoring the area, and the city again recovered its sophisticated townscape. Kobe Airport opened in 2005, and even to this day, Kobe still shows its presence as Japan’s gateway accepting cultures from abroad.

When it comes to Kobe, this is what to do!

1. Experiencing different cultures by walking through the city of Kobe

When it comes to Kobe, this is what to do!
Japan’s leading international city, Kobe, has various hot spots that resemble cities of different countries, such as the Chinatown Nankin-machi and the Tor Road, which is said to be “a city where the cultures of the east and west meet.” Why not walk about the city and experience the gateway of Japan?

2. Enjoy Kobe’s original great food, from gourmet to the ordinary

When it comes to Kobe, this is what to do!2
Kobe is a place where you can find all sorts of gourmet food such as the Kobe beef which is one of the world’s most famous brands of beef. Since Kobe is in the uptown area of Osaka, it is thought of as having many high-priced restaurants, but actually, there are a lot of places to eat that serve reasonably priced local cuisine.

Where to eat Kobe beef? Famous Kobe beef restaurants

Where to eat Kobe beef? Famous Kobe beef restaurants
Kobe beef has an unparalleled popularity among foreign tourists. It was originally a part of “Tajima-ushi” beef, produced in Hyogo Prefecture. People all over the world are fascinated by the soft meat’s rich flavor and sweetness of fat that spreads in the mouth. Some representative Kobe beef restaurants are as follows.

“Kobe beef steak Ishida Honten”
●Konan Asset Sanmei Building 3rd Floor, 1-21-2, Kitanagasa-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Closed Tuesdays

“Restaurant Miyasu”
●Awaji Kotsu Building, 3-2-19, Shimoyamate-dori, Cho-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Closed Sundays
*Open on Sunday if Monday falls on a holiday, and that Monday will be closed

How to walk around Kobe

How to walk around Kobe
Kobe is a city that is full of nature, with mountains and oceans. You can enjoy a magnificent view from the mountain overlooking the city of Kobe and there are many cafés along the harbor where you can relax and look at the ocean. Let us introduce you to some hot spots you can fully enjoy in Kobe.

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe

“The Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe”

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe
The name of this place comes from the fact that during the Meiji era (1868-1912), foreigners lived here. You can feel as though you are walking the streets of England while in Japan. There are many commercial facilities, boutiques, etc. in this area. You are sure to find your favorite item here while you enjoy window shopping.

“The Former Foreign Settlement of Kobe”
●Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

“Kobe Harbor land umie”

It is Kobe’s representative large shopping mall, which opened in 2013. It is made up of three buildings - “NORTH MALL,” “SOUTH MALL,” and “MOSAIC,” with Japan’s leading fashion brand shops, needless to say, and also many popular casual apparel brand shops from the world. Surprisingly, the number of shops is over 200. Some of them are duty-free, which is also a plus.

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe2
At the “NORTH MALL,” they have a food court with various menus to choose from, which is convenient for taking a rest and having lunch during shopping.

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe3
If your children are with you, we highly recommend the “MOSAIC.” You will find shops that sell items of representative Japanese characters popular among children. They also have a Ferris wheel that allows you to appreciate 360 degrees of Kobe’s townscape, so why not enjoy the night view with your family to complete your shopping?

“Kobe Harbor land umie”
●1-7-2, Higashi Kawasaki-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Open all year

Shops/services 10:00-21:00
Restaurants 10:00-21:00
AEONSTYLE umie 9:30-21:30
Shops/services 10:00-21:00
Restaurants 10:00-21:00
Movie theater 8:00-25:00
Shops 10:00-21:00
Restaurants 11:00-22:00

“Daimaru Kobe”
The former foreign settlement of Kobe has a relaxing scenery with many old buildings lining up the streets. Daimaru Kobe was built under the concept of “classic and modern,” and there is an elegant atmosphere that suits the former foreign settlement, with corridors and gas lights surrounding the building. Especially when the building lit up at night, it becomes whimsical. Some say Daimaru Kobe is “the most beautiful department store in Japan,” and it is a symbol of Kobe.

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe4
Near the Main building are approximately 50 shops such as “BLOCK30” and “Kyu-kyoryuchi 38 bankan.”

1. Shopping in stores of Kobe5
You can rest assured that they have English and Chinese interpreters, free Wi-Fi service, and foreign currency exchange for travelers from overseas.

“Daimaru Kobe”
●40, Akashi-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Closed on New Year’s Day
*some floors have different business hours

2. Sightseeing in Kobe

“Mayasan Mountain”
A good place to take long walks, since it is not a very high mountain. You can camp or enjoy athletics at Rokkosan Country House, and you can also have fun with animals or experience cheese making at Rokkosan Pasture.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe
The biggest fascination of Mayasan Mountain is after dark. The beautiful night view seen from the Kikuseidai observation platform is one of the three Three Major Night Views of Japan.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe2
“Mayasan Mountain”
●Mayasan-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

“Sawanotsuru Museum”

Japanese sake is a representative liquor of Japan. This is the museum of “Sawanotsuru,” a long-established Japanese sake brewers boasting 300 years in the business. The building was established in the 17th century, in late Edo period, and their more than 170-year old brewery has been open to the public as a museum. The historical building is quite overwhelming.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe3
In the museum, they have on display tools used for sake brewing in the olden days, such as a washing place for washing rice, a caldron used for steaming and pasteurization of the sake rice, and a large vat that is almost two meters high. You can observe the room for producing koji (malted rice), which is important when making sake. You will be able to come in touch with the history of sake by learning about the old method of producing sake.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe4
After your tour, you can go to “Sawanotsuru Museum Shop.” You can buy sake and others sold only in this shop. You can also taste raw unprocessed sake and umeshu (plum liquor) made with aged sake for free, so if you like sake, please try.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe5
“Sawanotsuru Museum”
●1-29-1, Oishi Minami-machi, Nada-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Closed: Wednesdays, Bon Holidays (mid-August), year-end and New Year’s

“Kobe Animal Kingdom” Kobe Animal Kingdom is an all-weather type zoo. Not only are there animals in the zoo, but they have many beautiful flowers blooming. There is an area indoors, where you can touch some of the animals.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe6
They also hold regular performances and events such as the “Bird Performance Show” that has Brown Wood Owls and falcons fly, and “Red Panda Study Talk” which allows you to understand the ecology of red pandas. After the “Red Panda Study Talk,” you can experience feeding them for free (amount fed is limited).

2. Sightseeing in Kobe7
You should take note that there are also capybaras, which are very popular among children (Aqua Valley Area), and shoebills (African Wetland Area). Furthermore, “Rocky Valley - Animals of North America” made its grand opening in March of 2018. You can see beavers and pumas and more, that live in Northern America.

2. Sightseeing in Kobe8
“Kobe Animal Kingdom”
●7-1-9, Minato-jima Minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
*Open 10:00-17:30 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
*Business hours may change during wintertime and severe weather
●Closed Thursdays (open during holidays, spring break, Golden Week, summer break, and year-end and New Year’s)

3. Eating in Kobe


3. Eating in Kobe
It is one of the representative Kobe cuisines. It looks like Osaka’s takoyaki, but you do not put sauce or katsuobushi on it. You eat it by dipping it into dashi (fish broth). Compared to takoyaki, more egg is used, and in some cases, locals call akashiyaki “tamagoyaki (grilled egg).” The following are representative restaurants that serve akashiyaki.

●5-12, Zaimoku-cho, Akashi-shi, Hyogo
●Closed: Fridays, second and fourth Thursday of the month

●Papios Akashi 1st floor, 1-6-1, Oakashi-cho, Akashi-shi, Hyogo
●Closed: Wednesdays *When a Wednesday falls on a holiday, the following day will be closed


3. Eating in Kobe2
“Sobameshi” is fried food made by mixing yakisoba crushed into pieces and rice. This is also one of the local cuisines of Kobe, loved by the locals for a long time. A lot of sobameshi has “bokkake,” stew with beef tendon and konnyaku, poured on, which brings out the flavor even more. Some of the representative restaurants that serve sobameshi are as follows.

●4-8-6, Kubo-cho, Nagata-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Closed Tuesdays

“Nagata Tank Suji”
●Sun Plaza B1-020, 1-8-1, Sannomiya-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Irregular holidays

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)

“Hotel Okura Kobe”

Hotel Okura is famous as one of Japan’s most distinguished hotels. Starting business in 1989 inside the Meriken Park, Hotel Okura Kobe is well-known to be the landmark of Kobe. Their interior, which has the allure of Japanese traditional beauty, and the hospitality spirit which has been passed down, are attracting many tourists from abroad as well as Japanese visitors.

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)
The rooms are elegant and come in varieties, boasting a location where you can overlook the night view of Kobe.

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)2
Further, their breakfast is popular among tourists from abroad. Hotel Okura Kobe’s western-style buffet, allows you to enjoy about 70 kinds of food including a specialty French toast made following the hotel’s traditional recipe, and omelets made by the chef right in front of you.

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)3
“Hotel Okura Kobe”
●2-1, Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

“Hotel Kitano Plaza Rokkoso”

This hotel is highly rated by foreign visitors. It stands in a great location, which is a part of the Kitano Ijinkan District where the atmosphere of when Japan opened the country still remains. The location can be a convenient base of your sightseeing trip, since the Shin Kobe Ropeway station is quite close.

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)4
They have 50 various guest rooms, and there are two Japanese-style rooms that allow up to four people to stay in. If you want to experience Japanese culture by staying in a tatami mat room which is uniquely Japanese, this is the one for you.

4. Staying overnight in Kobe (hotels)5
For foreign guests, along with free Wi-Fi, all rooms have smartphones you can rent for free. The phones can be used in six languages, and you can make not only domestic calls, but international calls as well. You can use them outside the hotel during your stay.

“Hotel Kitano Plaza Rokkoso”
●1-1-14, Kitano-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo

5. Attractions of Kobe

“Sky Bus Kobe”

If you want to look around the city of Kobe the easy way, the Sky Bus is convenient. It is an unroofed bus, which starts out at JR Sannomiya Station, and guides you through the hot spots of Kobe in about an hour. They operate five times a day, with no postponement for rain (booking is needed, and operation is cancelled in severe weather). It is possible to buy a ticket on the day you plan to ride if there are still vacant seats.

5. Attractions of Kobe
Since the bus is roofless, you will be able to have a spectacular ride in the Kaitei (undersea) tunnel, on the Kobe Ohashi (large bridge), on the Hamate By-pass, and more. You will enjoy in many ways a ride quite different from rides on ordinary buses, such as tall buildings that seem to reach the sky and traffic signals so close you can almost touch them! The buses are popular also because of the guides by attendants who are experts on Kobe.

5. Attractions of Kobe2
There are two routes to choose from - the “Heart-racing KOBE” (10:00 or 12:00 departure), great for children, and “Heart-throbbing KOBE” (15:00, 17:00, or 19:00 departure) great for couples. If you choose the “Heart-throbbing KOBE” route that starts in the afternoon and evening, you can enjoy a night view of illuminated Kobe City.

5. Attractions of Kobe3
“Sky Bus Kobe”
●Shinki Bus Kobe Sannomiya Bus Terminal / 4, Kotonoo-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo
●Open all year


It can be said that Anime is Japan’s representative culture. This NIJIGEN NO MORI is a theme park where you can enjoy attractions that use popular Japanese Anime characters as motifs. It’s a bit far from Kobe, but the attractions are very popular, such as athletics using the anime popular with kids, “Crayon Shin-chan” as motif, and an attraction using “Hi no tori,” Osamu Tezuka’s masterpiece as motif.

5. Attractions of Kobe4
The uniqueness of NIJIGEN NO MORI is that it has different attractions for day and night. During the day, they have a “Crayon Shin-chan” water zip-line and athletics, and also some photogenic artworks of various characters, and more. At nighttime, there is the visionary “Nightwalk Hinotori (firebird),” an attraction that you experience by walking through a forest of colorful lights and sound using the newest technology, which is highly recommended.

5. Attractions of Kobe5
5. Attractions of Kobe6
They also have lodging facilities. In 2018, a glamping facility opened.

5. Attractions of Kobe7

●2425-2, Kusumoto, Awaji-shi, Hyogo
●12:00-22:00 *10:00-22:00 for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
●Open all year

How to get to Kobe

From Osaka, you can get to Sannomiya, the center of Kobe, in 30 minutes by train using JR, Hankyu, or Hanshin Lines. JR Motomachi Station is the closest to Motomachi, where you will find all the restaurants that serve Kobe cuisine gather, but it is only within a 10-minute walk away from Sannomiya, so you may want to take a stroll around town.

Summary of Kobe

The city of Kobe has had many foreigners live in the area for a long time, and it is a place where you can feel foreign cultures while in Japan. If you actually walk around the city, you will feel as if you had toured around the globe, seeing the many cultures of the world mixed together. Kobe is a city where you can enjoy in various different ways. If you have the chance to visit Japan, you should definitely have a stopover in Kobe.

*The above information was last updated July 3, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.

"Like" if you think this article is interesting

New Information Column

Read more columns