Kobe is certainly a Japanese city that is known around the world for its cultural refinement and international connections. The largest city in Hyogo Prefecture, this classic port city continues to be a leading international trading hub.
Kobe could be described for those who have never been to the city as Japan’s Marseille. This means that it is a vibrant colorful locale that is blessed with a fantastic seaside and a Mediterranean climate.
Start your journey in central Kobe at the lovely Sorakuen Garden. Once part of the private residence of a former mayor of the city, its manicured landscape now provides peace and tranquility to the public.
Another district of note in Kobe is Kitano-cho, which is located at the base of Mt. Rokko. This area is significant because it is the site of many of the opulent mansions where foreign traders and diplomats lived after Japan opened up to international commerce at the beginning of the Meiji era. As these formers residences have been converted into museums it is possible to get a glimpse of the early days of Japan’s globalization.
After completing a tour of Kitano-cho, head up to the summit of Mt. Rokko and enjoy the absolute best view of Kobe and Osaka. The summit features the Rock Garden Terrace, which is styled after a European chalet and is home to several shops and restaurants.
Being a great port city, Kobe has a well-developed waterfront with plenty of activities for visitors. Kobe Harborland is a massive entertainment and shopping complex with stunning illumination, including a romantic gas lamp lit street.
If you are simply in the mood for a harbor stroll or perhaps want to take in a few museums, then the nearby Meriken Park is a good choice. The maritime heritage of the city can fully appreciated here as the waterfront promenade is lined with marine-related installations and sculptures.
A trip to Chinatown is a good way to wrap up a Kobe excursion. This historic area has its beginnings in the early days of the Meiji era as well, and is packed with authentic Chinese eateries and shops.
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