Kobe is located in central Japan on Osaka Bay. The city is known for its signature marbled beef and scenic mountain setting framing the harbor. A great way to see the city is from top of Mount Rokko, offering panoramic views.
Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum is found at Hakutsuru which is the dominant sake brewer Kobe’s Nada-ku, one of Japan’s major sake-brewing centers. Visitors take a self-guided tour through its historic, wood-built former brewery building. The present, giant concrete factory sits behind it. You can take an amazing look into traditional sake-making methods; life-sized models appear on old equipment, and a pamphlet and videos are available in English. After the tour you can have a free sake tasting.
There is a natural beauty to Nunobiki Falls. The waterfall is divided into four sections with the longest being 43 m tall and it has been the subject of art, poetry and worship for centuries.
Some of the poems that have been inspired by the waterfalls have been reproduced on stone slabs at the site. You can reach the falls by a steep, 400 m path.
Kitano Tenman-jinja is a beautiful little shrine found up a steep hill. It is a great place to relax, people watch and see the wonderful views across the city to the Inland Sea.
Take a walk in the lovely, hilly neighborhood Kitano-cho where you can see the well-preserved homes of Western trading families and diplomats who settled here during the Meiji Period. There are wonderful winding streets to explore, souvenir shops and cafes and restaurants to relax in. Here you’ll find a European-American atmosphere.
Ikuta Shrine dates back to 201 AD. This is a wooded shrine that has played a key role in the history of sake brewing. It has survived civil wars and WW II and has become a gathering place for residents after natural disasters like the 1995 earthquake. Here you’ll find lovely forest and landmark camphor trees.
The Kobe City Museum offers visitors a look into the history of Kobe as a trading port and an east-west meeting place through art and artifacts with English signage. There are items displayed to show foreign influence from clock to oil lamps and even hairstyles.
Visit Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway and find an escape from the bustle of the city on a 400 m high mountain ridge with fantastic views across the city to the bay. You can gain access via ropeway (cable car). A paved path leads downhill past themed gardens to the ropeway’s mid-station. Once you exit the gardens, the trail continues downhill to Nunobiki Falls.
Kobe China Town, Nankin-machi is an interesting place to visit where you’ll find more than 100 Chinese shops and restaurants as well as three Chinese-style gates, including the amazing Changan Gate, a pavilion and a Chinese temple. Visitors enjoy the many Chinese eateries and love to shop for many different kinds of souvenirs here among them Chinese lanterns, tea and incense.
Visit Port Island, where you’ll find many interesting places to see:
The Kobe Convention Center consists of an International Conference Center and International Exhibition Hall, hosting many international conferences.
The Kobe Science Museum also includes a planetarium and offers hands-on experience for both children and adults.
The UCC Coffee Company just opened its new headquarters on the island and offer visitors a Coffee Museum with displays on the history of coffee as well as showing how to prepare tasty coffee.
Visitors really enjoy The Kobe Flower and Bird Garden parrots and penguins are the specialty.
The Tasaki Pearl Company offers a small, free museum displaying pearls.
The impressive Kobe Fashion Museum has been designed to look like a giant spaceship. It is the first fashion museum in Japan and is located on Rokko Island. Here you’ll find a permanent collection in several themed galleries. The museum is also home to an extensive library of fashion books and magazine in many different languages.
The building is also home to an event space and the Kobe Artists Museum, exhibiting western-style artwork from local artists.
Meriken Park received its name because it was the local pronunciation of “American” in the Meiji Period. This is Kobe’s most distinctive stretch of waterfront. The park also has a memorial to the 1991 Great Hanshin Earthquake victims. Meriken Park is a lovely waterfront park built on an outcropping of reclaimed land. The park is covered by grassy lawn and has open courtyards that are dotted with a collection of modern art installations and fountains. It is also home to the city’s most iconic contemporary architecture like the red Kobe Port Tower and the Kobe Maritime Museum.
The Kobe Maritime Museum sits in the center of the park. The building is topped by an impressive white steel framework that is meant to evoke the image of sails. On the first floor visitors can discover how the Kobe Port functions and see exhibit models of modern ships. On the second floor the museum introduces the history of the port and how it became an important connection between Japan and the outside world. Outside of the museum you can see historic boats on display.
In the other half of the Maritime Museum building you’ll find the Kawasaki Good Times World. This is the corporate museum of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, manufacturer of various mechanical components and vehicles among them Shinkansen trains, jet planes, helicopters and motorcycles. The museum exhibits the history of the company and its products and visitors can have hands-on experience with some of the vehicles.
To the west of the museum you’ll find the Kobe Port Tower, an unusual red-painted steel structure which has become a symbol of the port and the city. It was built in 1963. The tower stand 108 m tall and visitors can take an elevator up to its five top floors. Two of the floors have a restaurant and a rotating cafe. The other three floors have observation decks that provide 360-degree views of the city.
Kobe Harborland is a fascinating shopping and entertainment district offering a large selection of shops, restaurants, cafes and different kinds of amusements. It is a popular place for strolling and people watching.
At Kobe Harbor you’ll find Umie, a busy, multi-level, contemporary megamall with around 235 stores in three separate sections. Here you can also find some fine dining and great views of the city. The shopping complex consists of three parts – Mosaic, South Mall and North Mall.
Mosaic stretches along the waterfront offering a wide selection of restaurant with harbor views. It is particularly nice at night when all lit up. At the southern end there’s a Ferris Wheel and the Anpanman Museum, dedicated to the popular manga and anime series. The South Mall and North Mall are enclosed shopping malls.
Of interest is the Gaslight Street which is lit up in the evenings by old-fashioned gas street lamps and electric lights.
The Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution is a museum that is dedicated to the devastation that occurred during the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. It measured 7.2 on the Richter scale and more than 5,500 people were killed. Buildings and highways collapsed and fires swept the city. This glass covered museum was built with an exterior frame that was designed to sway in an earthquake with shock absorbers to withstand vertical and horizontal movement. Here you can see a computer-generated film about the disaster, a diorama of a Kobe city street after the quake and real footage of the happening.
Mount Rokko stands 931 meters high and is the highest peak in the Rokko mountain range. It provides a lovely green backdrop to Kobe and offers panoramic views of the urbanized Hanshin region (Kobe and Osaka). The most awesome views come at sunset.
On Mount Rokko you can find different tourist attractions like a botanical garden, a music box museum, a pasture of flowers and sheep, Japan’s first golf course and the Rokko Garden Terrace, a tourist complex with some restaurants, shops and an observation deck.
A great place to get together with nature and animals is at the Kobe Rokkosan Pasture. Here you can get up close to lots of farm animals among them sheep, cows, donkeys, ponies and goats.
All of this is in a wide, pastoral-like setting on top of Mount Rokko. At the Mt. Rokko Q’B’B Cheese House visitors can see the process of making Kobe cheese (Camembert cheese). There are lots of fun hands-on classes held like wool craft and ice cream, butter, cheese, soft caramel and sausage making.
Visitors also enjoy the Oji Zoo which is the only zoo in Japan where you can see both Giant Panda Bears and Koalas.
This is home to about 150 different kinds of animals from around the world. Lots of other attractions and events are held like “Splash Time of North Pole Bears” and “Animal Class for Kids”. In the spring this is a great place to see cherry blossoms.
Since it opened in 1957 both residents and visitors have enjoyed Suma Aqualife Park. Here you can see bottlenose dolphins doing tricks and sharks and stingrays swimming about.
You can also see pirarucu, the largest freshwater fish in the world.
The Earless Seal and Penguin Pavilion has a petting field.
Alpine Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Japan, opening in 1933. Here you can find about 1,500 kinds of rare alpine plants and wild plants of Mount Rokko. The garden is located at 865 m above sea level.
Kobe Winery is located on a picturesque hillside with lovely views. The winery offers visitors a look at the brewery, a barbecue space and also provides pottery classes.
KOBE Animal Kingdom is a theme park featuring rare birds and animals in a weather-proofed green house that is full of blooming flower all year round.
It has one of the largest owl collections in the world.