Kobe Travel Guide: Sightseeing, Fashion Week & Lifestyle in Kansai

Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan. It is located north of Osaka Bay and about 30 km west of Osaka itself. With a population of 1.5 million and as part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area, Kobe is one of the most important cities in the Kansai region. The severe earthquake of 1995 changed the appearance of the city considerably, but Kobe has not lost its character and continues to enchant with its surprising versatility and the fusion of old and new, tradition and progress, prefabricated housing and green spaces such as Sorakuen Garden or Zuihoji Park, so typical of all major Japanese cities. Read more about Japan’s metropolises Tokyo and Kyoto.

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At dizzying heights above Kobe

Built close to the water

The city of Kobe is long and narrow, which is due to its location between the coast and mountainous country. As everywhere in Japan, the lack of usable land can be felt in Kobe – but thanks to its proximity to the coast and the sea, the Japanese have managed to build two artificial islands between Kobe and Osaka to expand the base of the Japanese island complex, namely Port Island and Rokkō Island.

Without snow through the winter

The weather in Kobe is characterized by hot summers and cool winters. With an average annual temperature of 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, it can be tolerated here all year round. The hottest phase is in August with an outside temperature of up to 32 degrees – in winter the temperatures rarely go below 0 degrees, so that it hardly ever snows in Kobe.

Melting Pot Kobe: internationally popular

Incidentally, about 13% of the city’s population is made up of people under 14, 67% of people up to the age of 64 and 20% of people over 65. 44,000 non-Japanese are registered in Kobe, with South Korea and China as the most common foreign nationalities, and Vietnam and America by far.

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The nine faces of Kobe – all municipalities at a glance

International ME: Angela with over 15 destinations in just one day!

Nishi – fresh fish from Akashi

Nishi is the westernmost district of Kobes and with almost 250,000 inhabitants the most populous district of the city. Nishi borders the town of Akashi known for its fresh fish – the temple Gessho-ji is located on the 135th meridian east of Greenwitch, which determines the Japanese normal time JST. That is why the JST is also simply called Akashi time in Japan.

Kita – Natural paradise on the mountain Rokko

Due to its mountainous structure, Kita is the most suitable area for hiking in Kobes. The two mountains Rokkō and Maya invite you to take long walks – the Rokkō Alpine Garden, for example, offers an impressive array of colours and plant diversity especially in autumn and is the perfect place for a day out in nature. If you are looking for relaxation, Arima Onsen is the place for you. The hot spring is an absolute insider tip and lies well protected behind the mountain Rokkō By the way, it is one of the oldest sources at all and is already mentioned several times in historical texts from the 8th century. By the way: Rokkō towers above the whole city with a proud 931 meters height!

Arima Onsen – hot spring, footbath & Mouchi with Allan tea

Tarumi – over the bridge to Awajji

The area around Tarumi was originally not part of the city and was only incorporated in 1946. Tarumi is mainly a residential area and offers few attractions for tourists. However, the AkashiKaikyō bridge, which connects the main island Honshū via Tarumi with southern Awaji on Awajishima, is worth a visit. With a span of 1,991 metres, it is the longest suspension bridge in the world – its actual length is as much as 3,911 metres!

The longest suspension bridge in the world – the crowning glory of bridge construction

Suma – Summer, Sun, Beach and more!

This municipality is located in the western part of the city along the coast and Osaka Bay. Formerly a picturesque district with beautiful small wooden houses, Suma has not been the same since the strong earthquake in Kobe at the end of the 1990s. But the famous beach complex in Suma Kaihin Kōen Park continues to inspire many visitors all year round, but especially during the summer months of course, and invites them to extensive walks and beach parties.

Nagata – the best shoes in Japan

According to figures, Nagata is the smallest district of the city and the least populated compared to the other eight districts. Nevertheless, with almost 9,000 inhabitants per km² it has the highest population density – the majority of the people here are among Kobes with the lowest income. Nagata is known for its shoe production and is still the leader in Japan. Also worth mentioning is the Nagata Shrine, one of the largest shrines in the city.

Hyōgo – drawn by time

Hyōgo is the historical heart of the city and has been run under various names throughout history. Once the core of Kobe’s business, Hyōgo has never fully recovered since the severe damage caused to the area by the Second World War. In 2004, the municipality was further affected by devastating floods. Nowadays people live here at a population density of 655 inhabitants per km² – a faint reflection of the past.

Chūō – from Motomachi to Harborland and Chinatown

The current business and entertainment centre of the city is clearly Chūō – the city centre Sannomiya, the office and business district Motomachi as well as the popular shopping district Harborland directly at the harbour form the character of the area. The artificial islands Port Island and Kobe Airport are also part of Chūō. Along with Nagasaki and Yokohama, Cobes own Chinatown Ninkanmachi is one of the most important conurbations for residents of Chinese descent in Japan – among Chinese, the term “Tangren Jie” is preferred because of its historically negative use of words.

Harborland Tour: Tiger in the shopping area of Kobe

Nada – Uni, Zoo and Sake Production

Nada is home to Oji Zoo, Oji Stadium and Kobe University. Together with the neighbouring district of Higashinada, Nada is best known for its sake. Adding the annual production rate of rice wine to that of Fushimi in Kyoto, as much as 45% of the country’s total production of sake is produced here!

Higashinada – celebrate in Kobe for the wagon festival

Higashinada district is located in the eastern part of the city. A large part of the area is the artificial island Rokkō, which was completed in the early 1990s. The Kōnan University and the Canadian Academy, an international university, are located in Higashinada as well as numerous museums, not least of course the Hakutsuru Gallery, named after the great sake producer Hakutsuru. The Okamoto plum garden makes botanists’ hearts beat faster and in May the whole town comes together to celebrate at the Danjiri-Matsuri.

Economic centre Kobe – upswing of the city

Economically, Kobe is an important hub on Japan’s main island Honshu. Large and well-known companies such as UCC have their headquarters in Kobe, but also various companies of the Kawasaki Group and the Mitsubishi Group can be found here. Some Japanese companies have moved to Tokyo over the years, but the city has not lost its appeal for international companies and is home to many successful companies such as the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company, the consumer goods group Procter & Gamble, Boehringer Ingelheim – the largest research-based pharmaceutical company in Germany – and the Swiss food group Nestlé.

Teamwork with partners & sister cities worldwide

In addition to official city partnerships with Tianjin in China, Philadelphia, USA, and Daegu in South Korea as well as numerous sister cities, the port of Kobe Sister Port is linked to the ports in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Seattle, USA.

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Research in Kobe: High-End Technology & Supercomputers

Furthermore, many research institutes are present in Kobe, above all the RIKEN Kobe Institute Center for Development Biology and Medical Imaging Ttechniques. An example for the work on RIKEN – short for “Rikagaku “Rikagaku”, which means physical-chemical institute – is the K-computer, which RIKEN developed together with Fijutsu. With a computing power of 10.51 petaflops, the K-Computer took first place among the fastest computer systems in the world in 2011!

The history of the K-Computer from 2006 to 2012

Attractions and Culture: Luxury Meat, Golf and Kobe Fashion Week

Apart from rice wine, the famous Kobe Beef has its origin in Kobe and is named after cattle of the Japanese breed of Tajima cattle from the region around Kobe. It’s the most expensive beef in the world. The meat impresses with its strong marbling and the low content of saturated fatty acids. Market prices range from 400.00 euros to 600.00 euros per kilogram – Kobe Beef’s EU import has only been possible since summer 2014!

Food Guide Kobe: from Akashiyaki to Kobe Beef with Lyz Kelly

From jazz to wrestling and futsal – music & sports in Kobe

Every year in October the music event “Kobe Jazz Street” takes place, but not only culturally the city near Osaka has a lot to offer. Kobe is home to Japan’s first mosque, inaugurated in 1935, and the country’s first golf club, founded in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. In general, sport is very important in Kobe – it has a rich tradition in baseball, football, rugby, volleyball and wrestling as well as futsal, a variant of indoor football internationally recognised by the World Football Association FIFA, where flying changes in the team’s own area are possible and the ball may not be controlled for more than four seconds when at rest.

Kobe Fashion Centre: Kobe Fashion Week

In Kobe there is a saying: “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe”, because cosmopolitan and fashion are particularly important here. Kobe Fashion Week is held twice a year and brings together the country’s most important designers and numerous international guests. The Kobe Collection was launched in 2002 and was one of the most important fashion shows in the region until it was discontinued in 2007. The Kobe Fashion Museum was chosen by CNN as one of the top 10 museums in the world!

CSE TV News: Interview with fashion god Keitaro Takada

Impressions: Kobe Collection x Tokyo Girls Collection

Read more about Japan’s metropolises Tokyo and Kyoto.

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