Another great day trip from Osaka, Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan’s ten largest cities. It is located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range and has been an important port city for many years. Sadly in 1995, Kobe suffered the devastating ‘Great Hanshin-Awaji’ Earthquake, which claimed over 5000 lives and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. However, Japan is such a resilient country and very little indications of the terrible event remain. As well as Kobe’s interesting history, it is also famous for Kobe beef, which you may have heard of. However, I would urge you to consider instead of trying Kobe beef (if you are a meat-eater), to instead try the wonderful Sake at the Hakutsuru Brewery instead! Cruelty and guilt-free, the sake is delicious and no animals are harmed in its preparation.
- Visa – As a British National I was exempt from requiring a visa to visit Japan for less than 90 days, however, some nationalities will require a visa. For the most up to date information visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Immunisations – some are required, check out my go-to website for up to date information: https://nathnac.net
- Safety – Just like London, Kobe is a very safe place to visit. You should use usual common sense, around protecting valuables to avoid pick-pocketers, and staying safe at night.
- Currency – Japanese Yen
- Language – Japanese
It’s very straightforward travelling to Kobe as a day trip from Osaka. You can board the direct JR train on the Kobe Line using your JR Pass or paying a one-off fee. There are also several other train lines which link Osaka and Kobe, so it’s worth checking which route is most straightforward for you, depending on where you are staying and what you plan to visit whilst you are in Kobe. I always check the Hyperdia App for the best possible route. You can access the website here.
I didn’t stay in the city of Kobe during my visit and instead opted to stay in nearby Osaka and travelled to Kobe as a day trip. If you did wish to spend longer in this city or stay over-night though there are several options in the city, including a range of hostels and hotels. I always check out booking.com first to try and find the best deals and accommodation to suit my budget.
Kobe is really easy to discover on foot, I found that I just needed to board the JR train line a couple of times to reach some destinations which were a little further away, like the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and the Hatsuku Sake Brewery, which were at opposite ends of the main Kobe Port area.
Ikuta Jinja Shrine
The Shrine was the first destination on my itinerary, located just a short walk from the Sannomiya Station on all lines. It is said to be possible one of the oldest shrines in Japan, constructed by the Empress Jingu at the beginning of the 3rd century AD. The Ikuta Shrine has stood the test of time in the face of adversity including, wars, flooding and natural disasters such as the ‘Great Hanshin-Awaji’ Earthquake. It is a popular shrine to visit for tourists and locals living in Kobe also and should be included in any itinerary to the capital.
Nankinmachi (China Town)
Next up, a wander through china town, the area was first developed by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after it was opened to foreign trade in 1868. As the town developed, it became known as Nankinmachi after Nanjing, the former Chinese capital. Today, it’s a great place to grab some traditional Chinese food, which I must admit I have struggled to find vegan versions of, but am always on the lookout for!
Kobe Port Tower
A great viewing point in the city of Kobe. The Tower stands at an impressive 108 metres and has 5 observation floors with 3 speciality floors. The structure was designed by the same Japanese Architecture firm behind works like the Tokyo Skytree. The Kobe Port Tower is designed to resemble a traditional hourglass-shaped Japanese drum that is often used in Noh and kabuki theatre. With the red latticing mimicking the red ropes of the drum and entwined LED lighting. It is quite spectacular when it is lit up during the evenings. For full details regarding opening times and admission fees, please visit the official website here.
Bell of Hortensia
Quite an unusual sculpture, you’ll find The Bell of Hortensia in Meriken Park, just beside the Starbucks. The bell was erected in 1989 celebrating the first Kobe Fashion Festival. Hortensia refers to Kobe’s city flower, the hydrangea. The structure was created by Nakashima Propeller, a screw propeller manufacturer.
Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park
You’ll also find the Port of Kobe Memorial park in Meriken Park. Here, the 60-meter breakwater was damaged in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. The area has been preserved in its original tangled state immediately following the earthquake and is currently maintained for visitors to be able to view it safely. There is also an exhibit available, including films and the restoration process of the area following the devastating earthquake.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
A little further out from the main city attractions, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. Unfortunately, the weather decided to take a rather gloomy turn in the late afternoon when I reached the bridge. However on a bright sunny day, tourists can appreciate the enormity of this bridge, measuring almost 4 kilometres, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the world! Opened in 1998, the bridge is an important link between Kobe and Awaji Island.
Tetsujin 28 Statue Gigantor
This was the second giant robot I encountered on my trip to Japan, the first statue I found was the Gundam in Odaiba, Tokyo, you can read more about my Tokyo adventure here. The Tetsujin 28 Statue Gigantor stands as a symbol of re-birth for the city of Kobe following the destruction of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. Standing at an impressive 18 meters high, The Tetsujin robot was originally created in the 1960’s by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, a manga artist born in Kobe. It was re-created in magnificent enormity in 2009, and is situated just a stones-throw from Shin-Nagata Station on the JR Kobe Line.
Have you tried sake? If you haven’t or don’t even know what Sake is, the Hakutsuru brewery is a great place to start to understand more about this Japanese tipple. Sake is actually made from rice. Kobe is well known as a great producer of Sake due to the availability of high-quality rice, suitable water and excellent weather conditions. Its proximity to Kobe Port and Osaka has also facilitated physical distribution since olden times.
There are several breweries with museums and galleries that you can visit, but I decided on the Hakutsuru Brewery. The building housing the museum is situated on the original grounds of the brewery and is an example of what a sake brewery would have looked like years ago, when traditional methods were used. There are also several life-size replicas and models displayed throughout the museum demonstrating the different process the rice goes through to produce the delicious sake. It was a very interesting afternoon, and was finished by a free tasting at the end! What more can you ask for?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my day trip to the port city of Kobe, and I’ve provided you with some inspiration for your own travel plans. I’d love to hear from you too, have you visited Kobe or do you have any questions about my day trip to this city? Please get in touch using the comments section below.
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