Kōbe(神戸) is a city in the Hyogo Perfecture of Japan.
A cosmopolitan port city with an international flavor, hemmed in by Mt. Rokko, Kōbe is often ranked as the best place for expatriates to live in Japan. The city has a population of over 1.5 million people.
A port in what would become Kōbe was established as a concession to western powers in 1868, during the time when Japan was opening to the western world. Nagasaki and Yokohama had already begun serving foreign ships nine years earlier. Today, a synagogue, Japan's first mosque, Japan's first Sikh temple, a Chinatown, and European architecture mark Kōbe as a place where foreigners and foreign culture first arrived in Japan.
Great Hanshin Earthquake
At 5:46 AM JST on January 17, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale, struck near the city. The quake killed 6,433 people, made 300,000 people homeless and destroyed 10,000 buildings and large parts of the port facilities, and toppled the the Hanshin Expressway, an elevated freeway. It was one of the most costly natural disasters in modern history. However, visitors will not see any of the aftermath of the quake as the city has been restored.
Kobe Airport is on reclaimed land
Kobe Airport (神戸空港, IATA: UKB)), built on reclaimed land in front of the harbor, opened in February of 2006. The airport handles domestic flights only: both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have flights to Kobe from Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo, Sendai, Okinawa, and Kagoshima. ANA also offers service from Niigata, while JAL has flights from Kumamoto. A low-cost airline, Skymark, operates cheap flights to/from Tokyo, Naha, Ibaraki, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, and Sapporo.
From Kobe Airport, the Port Liner light rail to Sannomiya Station runs about every 10 minutes (18 minutes, ¥330). Sannomiya Station offers connections to the Japan Rail (JR), Hanshin, Hankyu and subway lines. From there, a small trip on the subway will link you to the Shin-Kobe bullet train station (¥200). If coming from Sannomiya to the airport, be sure to board a train marked "Kobe Airport", as some head to the Kita Futo branch line instead.
Kansai International Airport is 70km from Kobe and is the nearest international airport. The fastest way to get there is on the Kaijo Access high-speed ferry from Kobe Airport, which runs every 45 minutes (29 minutes, ¥1,500). However, if you are coming from or going to Sannomiya Station or Rokko Island, it's nearly as fast and less of a hassle to take the Airport Limousine bus (60-75 minutes, ¥1,980 one-way, ¥3,080 round-trip). Alternatively, you can take the JR Kanku Kaisoku (関空快速) rapid to Osaka station and change there to the Shin-kaisoku (新快速 - Special Rapid) that runs to both Sannomiya and Kobe stations (90 minutes, ¥2,410).
Itami Airport, officially known as Osaka International Airport is 30 km northeast of Kobe. Airport buses operate service to/from Sannomiya Station (40 minutes, ¥1,050).
The central business district and many attractions are near Sannomiya station, 1.7km south of Shin-Kobe Station. Sannomiya station has a tourist information office well-stocked with area maps. Be sure to ask for the coupon book, which offers discounts of 10% to 20% for many attractions. The Japanese characters for Sannomiya station on Japan Railways (三ノ宮) differ from the Sannomiya station on other railways (三宮).
The nearest station on Japan's high-speed shinkansen network is at Shin-Kobe station.
From Tokyo station, Shin-Kobe is 2 hours, 50 minutes away via Nozomi (¥14,670); 3 hours and 20 minutes via Hikari (¥14,270; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). From Shin-Kobe station, take the Seishin Yamate subway line one stop to Sannomiya (¥200).
From Osaka, there are several ways to arrive in Sannomiya:
- Trains on the Hankyu and Hanshin private lines depart respectively from Hankyu-Umeda and Hanshin-Umeda stations. The Tokkyu (特急) express takes roughly half an hour to reach Sannomiya (¥310).
- Hanshin trains also operate to Kobe from Namba station. Kaisoku Kyuko (快速急行) trains depart every 20 minutes, reaching Sannomiya in 45 minutes at a cost of ¥400. In some instances you may have to change trains at Amagasaki.
- The best option via JR is to take the Shin-kaisoku (新快速 - Special Rapid) or Kaisoku (快速 - Rapid) service that departs from JR Osaka station, running to Sannomiya in 20 and 26 minutes, respectively (¥390, no charge with the Japan Rail Pass).
From Kyoto, Sannomiya is 50 minutes away from the main train station via Shin-kaisoku (¥1050; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). You can also make the run to the area in 30 minutes via bullet train, but it is more expensive, and if you have the rail pass, you can only take one train every hour without changing trains (the Hikari that runs through to Okayama).
From the central area of Kyoto (near Gion and the shopping district), you can reach Sannomiya in 70 minutes via Hankyu limited express, changing once at Juso station (¥600). Hankyu trains depart from the Kawaramachi and Karasuma stations.
From Nara, direct Kintetsu trains operate to Sannomiya Station on the Hanshin line via Namba every 20 minutes (75 minutes, ¥940).
Buses from Tokyo follow either the Tomei Expressway or the Chuo Expressway to Nagoya, then the Meishin Expressway in the direction of Kobe. Trips take 9-10 hours and tickets can be bought online. Buses have either a 1x1x1 seat layout, or a cheaper 2x2 seat layout. Fares vary and are cheaper if purchased in advance.
Willer Express operates overnight buses with 2 different seating layouts. Willer's Japan Bus Pass is valid on all routes with some exceptions. Buses leave from Tokyo station and Tokyo Disneyland. The drop off point in Kobe is near Sannomiya station. Fares are generally in the range of ¥5,000-6,500, depending on seating option, advance purchase, and demand.
JR Bus (Japanese Website) operates overnight services from Tokyo to Kobe. The drawback is that online reservations must be made in Japanese, but you can make reservations in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains. Buses depart from Tokyo Station - Yaesu Exit (八重洲口) and the JR Highway Bus Terminal (JR高速バスターミナル) adjacent to Yoyogi Station on the Yamanote Line (one stop south of Shinjuku). Buses stop in Kobe at the Sannomiya Bus Terminal (三宮バスターミナル).
Fares are generally in the range of ¥6,000-7,500, depending on seating option, advance purchase, and demand.
There are no daytime JR Buses to Kobe, and the entire Tokyo-Kobe run is not vaild with the Japan Rail Pass. In these cases you can take a JR Bus to Osaka Station (covered with the Rail Pass) and then take a 20 minute ride by JR train to Sannomiya.
The Japan Rail Pass CAN be used for overnight trips on standard buses between Tokyo and Osaka called "Dream" services - once you arrive in Osaka the next morning you can take a 20 minute ride by JR train to Sannomiya. Overnight buses between Tokyo and Kobe are NOT valid with the rail pass.
Keisei Bus operates service to/from Tokyo Station and Tokyo Disneyland leaving Tokyo Station at 23:00 and arriving at Sannomiya Station at 8:00AM (9 hours, ¥9,100)
Other operators such as Hankyu Bus, Hanshin Bus, Keio Bus, and Shinki Bus operate service to/from Tokyo but are more expensive, less comfortable, and cannot be booked in English.
Several ferry services are available from Kobe, including routes to/from:
- Takamatsu: Jumbo Ferry, +81 78-327-3333. 3 1/2 hours; ¥1,600.
- Kitakyushu: Hankyu Ferry, +81 78-857-1211. 12 hours; ¥7,400+.
- Oita: Ferry Sunflower, +81 78-857-1988 . 6.5 hours; ¥12,870+.
- Oita: Diamond Ferry, +81 78-857-9525. 12 hours; ¥8,800+. Also stops at Matsuyama.
- Okinawa: A-Line Ferry, +81 78-857-3901. 3 days; ¥21,790+.
- Shanghai: Japan-China Ferry, +81 78-321-5791 (Japan) or 021-6326-4357 (China). 45 hours; ¥20,000+.
If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might want to consider using the Kansai Thru Pass.
There are some other useful tickets:
ICOCA Card is a rechargeable card that can be used on rail, subway, and bus networks in Kansai area, Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu) and Tokyo (JR East). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost ¥2,000, which includes ¥1,500 in transportation credit and a ¥500 deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West Station.
The Hankyu (阪急), Hanshin (阪神) and JR lines cross Kōbe in a west-east direction, and provide the cheapest and fastest way to travel across town. Each of these three lines have their own station located around the busy central Sannomiya shopping district and each provide access to different points of interest.
For visitors with a Japan Rail Pass, JR will be of the most use. Shin-kaisoku (新快速 - Special Rapid) trains stop at both Sannomiya and Kōbe stations and provide the best way to travel west towards Akashi and Himeji or east towards Kyoto and Osaka. Boarding a Futsu (普通 - Local) from either Sannomiya or Kōbe stations will allow you to easy access to Motomachi (for Nankin-machi and Meriken-park) Nada (for the sake brewing district and museums) Rokkomichi (for buses to Mt. Rokko) and Sumiyoshi (for the Rokko Liner to Rokko Island).
The Hankyu and Hanshin lines are of less use to tourists but you may be forced to use them to visit certain sights. Koshien Stadium, home of the baseball team the Hanshin Tigers, is easily accessible from Hanshin Koshien Station and both lines provide service to Shinkaichi for transfer to the private Kobe Dentetsu line and access to the famed Arima Onsen hot-spring district.
Kōbe has two subway lines. The Kaigan Line runs along along the coast, and the Seishin-Yamate Line runs toward the mountains. Both are more expensive than ordinary trains and unlikely to be of use for the traveler, except when connecting to Shin-Kōbe, the station located north of the city where the Sanyo Shinkansen stops. The small jaunt between Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya costs ¥200. If you want to explore Kobe, there is a one-day-pass for both lines (1日乗車券; Ichinichijoshaken), costing ¥800 (children: ¥400) or subway plus bus for ¥1,000 (children: ¥500).
North of Shin-Kobe station, the Yamate subway runs over the Hokushin Express Line. Trains run 7.5 km under ground and terminate at Tanigami Station, from which you can transfer to the Shintetsu Arima Line for Arima-guchi Station and Arima Onsen.
By light rail
The automated Port Liner links Sannomiya to the reclaimed port district south of the city, and continues over the Kobe Sky Bridge to Kobe Airport. Likewise, the Rokko Liner links the Rokko Island area to JR Sumiyoshi station.
Kobe has a comprehensive city bus system, which is often your best choice when travelling to areas located north of the city, away from the predominately east-west running train and subway lines. Schedules and boarding locations can be obtained from the tourist information office below JR and Hankyu Sannomiya stations.
The city also operates a loop-line tourist bus that travels around scenic spots and famous tourist locations in Kobe including the Kitano Ijinkan streets, Nankin-machi and Meriken Park. These distinctive old-fashioned green buses can be boarded are 15 stops between the Shin-Kobe area and Harborland and cost ¥250 for a single loop or ¥650 for a day pass. Boarding locations are indicated by green and red signs on the side of the road. Buses run at 15-20 minute intervals and one loop takes approximately 70 minutes.
Kobe has several ropeways that travel up Mount Rokko. One that is near a major station is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, a 5-minute walk from Shin-Kobe station. The ropeway, reputed to have one of Kobe's best scenic views, runs up to the Nunobiki Herb Park (see below). Tickets include admission to the Park.
Kōbe is narrow in the north-south direction, but long in the west-east direction. Since much of it is built on a hill, a reasonable itinerary is to take the bus up the hill, and walk down.If you get lost, find the mountains or the harbour. The mountains are on the north, and the harbour’s on the south.
Kobe's main attraction for the Japanese is its concentration of Western-style houses, some dating back to the days when Kobe was opened for foreign trade in 1868. Europeans who grew up in similar scenery may find them less fascinating.
- Kitano Ijinkan, (walking distance from either Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe stations). Kōbe's main attractions are the Ijinkan (foreign houses). These are 19th-century residences of Kobe's foreign traders, clustered in the Kitano area.
- Kyu-kyoryuchi (旧居留地), near Motomachi station (Hanshin Line or JR Line). This is where foreign consulates and trading companies built their offices. Several 19th-century buildings have been converted into restaurants and shops. Notable buildings include Chartered Square, once the Chartered Bank branch and the 15th Building (十五番館), once the American consulate. The area is also packed full of high-fashion boutiques such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Fendi.
- Chinatown (南京町 nankinmachi) was the original settlement of Chinese merchants. Today, it is rather touristy though it offers some "Japanised" versions of Chinese food such as pork buns (豚饅頭 buta-manjū). Its architecture is still rather pleasant though.
- Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum (竹中大工道具館), (3 blocks North of JR Motomachi station. 1 block west from Coop store. A 10 minute walk.), ☎ +81 78 242-0216, . 9:30-16:30. A very nice exploration of hand carpentry tools, from the stone axes of Jomon age to the Western influenced tools of yesterday. Hands-on exhibits and English language descriptions make this a pleasant place to spend the afternoon. ¥300.
- Tetsujin 28 statue (Kobe project), (2 blocks west of the Shin-Nagata stop on the JR line), . A 18 meter tall statue of a manga robot that was built to help rebuild the Nagata ward of Kobe both financially and morally after the great earthquake. The Nagata ward was one of the worst hit areas and the character of the statue has a long history to Japan as a whole and specifically this area.
Climb the City Hall tower for vistas of the city
- Kobe Port Tower, 5-5 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward (In Meriken Park), ☎ +81 78-391-6751, . 9AM-9PM. Built in 1962, it is the world's first sightseeing tower with a pipe structure. The unofficial symbol of the city. 108m tall. 5 levels of observatories. ¥700. (34.6826,135.1867)
- Observation deck on the 24th Floor of Kobe City Hall, 6-5-1 Kano-cho, Chuo-ku (6 minute walk south from Sannoyima), ☎ +81 78-331-8181, . Weekday: 8:15-22:00; Weekend/holiday: 10:00-22:00. Offers nice bay and mountain views of Kobe. Free. (34.68943,135.19574)
Kōbe has been a well-known center of sake production for several centuries, due to its location near fine mountain water. Many sake breweries are clustered in the Nada (灘) area and have tours or museums open to the public. You can pick up a map of the sake breweries at the tourist information office in Sannomiya.
- Sawa-no-Tsuru Museum (沢の鶴資料館), (10-minute walk from Hanshin Ōishi station 大石駅), . 10AM-4 PM, closed Wednesday. This museum is probably the best of the bunch, with an informative multi-level exhibit partly labeled in English, and a well-stocked gift shop. Free entry, but no free sake.
- Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum, (walking distance from Hankyu Mikage station 御影駅 or Sumiyoshi station 住吉駅), ☎ +81 78-822-8907. 9:30AM-4:30PM, closed Mon. Hakutsuru is a nationally-known sake brand and this museum is inside a former brewery, and features traditional tools, dioramas and English-language videos to explain the sake-making processes. At the end, you can sample some sake, which is non-pasteurized, presumably because it doesn't have to travel far from the factory. Write your name on a piece of paper provided by the guard and return that at the end. Free entry, free sake..
- Hamafukutsuru-Ginjo Brewery and Shop, ☎ +81 78-411-0492. 10AM-5PM, closed Mon.. Hamafukutsuru offers factory tours rather than just a museum.
- Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Company, Kobe, Higashi Nada-ku Uozaki Nishimachi 1-9-1 (Approx. 10-minute walk south from Hanshin Uozaki Station; approx. 2-minute walk north from Rokko Liner Minami-Uozaki Station.), ☎ 078-854-1029, . 9:30-16:30 (Entry until 16:00 ). Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Memorial Hall is the only facility that exhibits "Sake brewing utensils of Nada" which are tangible cultural properties of Japan. It is a museum of Sake that tells you the secret of traditional sake brewing techniques of the Tanba region. You can also try tasting different kinds of sake here for free. There will be a guide to take you though the museum and present the history of a prestigious "Sake of Nada" brewer. FREE!!!.
- Mt. Rokko (六甲山 Rokko-san) and its Rock Garden, the first an easy cable car trip for suitable romantic evenings, the second a light day's hiking with an excellent view. The view over the glittering expanse of Osaka Bay is canonized as one of the Three Great Night Views. The Mt. Rokko Ice Festival is held here every February around Valentine's Day. The Mt. Rokko and adjacent Mt. Maya cable car routes close at 17:10, or 20:50 in the summer.
- Nunobiki Falls, (Near the Herb Garden; a 15 minute walk up Mt. Rokko from Shin Kobe station, get a hiking map at the station or take the cable car near the Crown Plaza (¥900 or ¥720 with coupon available in discount book)), . Four waterfalls that empty into the Ikuta River. The largest is 43m high.
Parks and gardens
- Meriken Park (メリケンパーク) near the harborfront has a poignant memorial to the devastating Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, which killed 6,433 people.
- Fruit Flower Park (フルーツ・フラワーパーク), (35 min by bus from Sannomiya), . 10AM-6PM (except on holidays). Surrounded by a lot of flowers and greenery. Many people hold their wedding ceremonies here every year. In spring, the park becomes even more beautiful as about 10,000 tulips bloom.
- Sorakuen Garden, (10 minute walk from Motomachi Station; 15-20 minutes from Sannomiya Station), ☎ (078)351-4680, . 9:30-16:30. A nice Japanese-style garden in the middle of the city. Very good value and a great attraction to see after going through the Ijinkan area. ¥300; ¥260 with discount coupon available from tourist information booths.
- Nunobiki Herb Garden (布引ハーブ園), (Shin-Kobe Ropeway, near Shin-Kobe station), ☎ +81 78-271-1160, . 10AM-5PM, or 8:30PM in summer. 40-acre garden on Mount Rokko. It is accessible by the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, near Shin-Kobe station. It features over 200 varieties of herbs, as well as greenhouses, exhibitions, and a restaurant. Adults, including the round-trip ride on the Ropeway: ¥1,400, one-way ropeway: ¥900.
- Oji Zoo (王子動物園), (walking distance from Hankyu Oji Koen station 王子公園駅 or JR Nada 灘駅 station), ☎ +81 78-961-5624, . 9 AM to 4:30PM from March to October and 9AM to 4PM November–February. Besides animals, there is a mini amusement park with rides for young children Adults: ¥600; Children: ¥200.
Festivals and events
- Kobe Luminarie, ☎ +81 78 303-0038, . Early to mid-December, check the website for exact dates. Japan's best display of lights. Large, flamboyant light displays. The lights and the event itself have a deeper meaning: The luminaries began in 1995 after the Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated the city of Kobe. Each light is said to represent one life lost during in the earthquake.
- Kobe Collection (神戸コレクション), . Held Twice a year (Aug-Sep, Feb-Mar). Fashion event popular with young women.
- Kobe Jazz Street, . October. Famous Jazz event in Japan.
Motomachi: Many shops, bars, and other commercial establishments are below the train tracks in Kobe
Kōbe's shopping is clustered around the Sannomiya train station and the Center-Gai shopping arcade leading off from it. Many of the unassuming little cafes and specialty shops in the arcade in fact have histories tracing back well over a hundred years.
Piazza Kōbe (ピアザ神戸) and Motokō Town (モトコータウン) are the two names of essentially one long arcade where all manner of second-hand goods are sold. These stores are underneath the JR lines, running from Sannomiya station, past Motomachi Station, to Kōbe Station. Motoko sells a variety of things such as books, clothes, shoes, accessories, knives, lighters, toys...... You can get heaps of things.
- Harbor Land (adjacent to Kobe station). This is a modern shopping and dining area, developed on the edge of the Kobe Bay.
- MOSAIC. Kobe’s playground. There are restaurants, bars, a movie theatre, a shopping market, an amusement arcade and a little amusement park. Harbour cruises are offered, some of which go as far as the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
- Junkudo (7th floor of the big DAIEI building in front of Sannomiya station and 5th floor of JR Sumiyoshi station). +81 78-252-0777. Open daily 10 AM to 9 PM. Huge bookstore with big selection of english books and magazines.
- Tokyu Hands, 2-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori,Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo (Diagonally across the street from the Sannomiya Subway west exit.), ☎ 078-321-6161, . Just about everything is sold here from bicycles and bags to watches and umbrellas.
The famed Kobe beef: finger-licking good, budget-busting expensive
Kobe has many restaurants offering international cuisine.
Kōbe is known worldwide for its Kobe beef, exquisitely marbled, very fatty and very expensive beef. Recommended for a splurge, but expect to pay close to ¥10,000 per 100 grams. At the opposite end of the culinary spectrum is sobameshi (そば飯), a concoction of fried rice and noodles mixed together, which is cheap, filling and pretty much unique to Kobe.
Cheap eats can be found in Kōbe's Chinatown (Nankinmachi in Japanese), walking distance from Sannomiya station.
- Baan Thai, 兵庫県神戸市中央区北長狭通１－８－８ シンセイドウビル１Ｆ, ☎ +81 78-391-0545. Awesome Thai food and really friendly staff. They'll gladly modify dishes to suit vegetarians/vegans. If you like spicy food they have a 1-5 scale, beware. It's a small place and often fills up on weekends, but there's a larger sister restaurant Baan Sukhothai around the corner.
- Gaen Shuga Chinese Restaurant, 2-8-7 Sakaemachi-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo 650-0023 (Head west from the main square in Chinatown and turn left at the first street and Gaen will be on the left next to Kung Lung (the big Bruce Lee)), ☎ +81 78 331-8828. 11:30-3:00 5:00-9:30. Delicious Cantonese and Hong Kong cuisine prepared by genuine Chinese chefs. An English menu is available. You can get a dish like fried rice for under ¥1000 or a set menu with several dishes including soup and dessert for slightly more. You can also ask the proprietor to prepare a special banquet menu for you that includes delicacies like shark's fin soup and fresh abalone. There is a printable coupon from the website!
- Minsei Chinese Restaurant, 1-3-3 Motomachidori, Chuoku, ☎ +81 78-331-5435, .
- Modern Ark Pharm Cafe, 3 Chome-11-15 Kitanagasadōri (South of Sannomiya station), ☎ +81 78-391-3060, . 11:30-22:00. A vegetarian organic cafe that also serves alcohol and desserts.
- Pars Cuisine, 3rd floor, 3-2-16, Kitanagasa-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, ☎ 078-332-0707. Yummy persian food, and a few (unintentionally) vegetarian dishes. Owner/chef Hamid speaks English.
- Pizza Kitchen (PK), 1-12-4 Nakayamate-dori (at the intersection with Kitano-zaka, just north of Sannomiya station), tel. 078-333-0350, beer ¥600, pizza ¥1,000, free WiFi for customers.
- Ryukaso, 1-4-8 Motomachidori, Chuo-Ku, ☎ +81 78-391-7728, . Chinese restaurant. Try the chicken.
- Grill Ippei (グリル一平), Several branches near Sannomiya station, Motomachi station, and elsewhere, . Specializes in yōshoku, or Japanized Western dishes. Specialities include Ebi furai (breaded shrimp), kaki furai (breaded oyster), hamburger steaks and tonkatsu (pork cutlets).
- Sky Buffet, 5-1-14 Hamabedori, Chuo-Ku (Just east of Higashiyuenchi Park and Flower Road, near the highway in a tall building), ☎ +81 78-252-7570. At 24 floors up, the view is quite impressive, especially at night. Go for the view, not the food.
- Sona Rupa, 3F Lighthouse, 2-2-9 Shimoyamatedori (Adjacent to the Kobe Sauna building. Opposite the bee's hotel and Don Quijote shopping store in Sannomiya), ☎ 078-322-0252, . 11am-9pm. Possibly the best Indian restaurant in the Kansai region. The chef is famous for his creations and often recommends what dishes to order for first timers. Set lunch and dinner menus are available along with an ala-carte menu. The restaurant holds several food festivals, notably in summer (June - August) and in Christmas. Average costs ¥1,800 to ¥5,000 per person. Reservations strongly required, as seating is limited and the restaurant gets packed during lunch and dinner times.
- Torikizoku (鳥貴族), 3 locations: near the Hankyu station, near the shrine, and just down the street from the Haagen-datz near the concrete statue park, . 5 or 6 pm to late. Torikizoku is the most popular yakitori chain in Kansai. The Yakitori is delicious, comes in generous serves and is very cheap. It's very popular with both locals and expats, and is always busy. Try to come before 7:30PM to secure seats. As the drinks are cheap it's also popular for drinking with snacks on the side. Look for the distinctive yellow and red sign with the chicken and 鳥貴族 All food/drink ¥300 each.
- Cafe Terrasse de Paris, 4-9-2 Kitanocho, Chuo-ku, ☎ +81 78-252-1113, . A French restaurant with a romantic view.
- Kobe Beef Steak Ishida Kitanozaka, 4-7-11 Kanocho Chuo-Ku (Near Sannomiya Station), ☎ +81 78-599-5029, . Rated one of the best places for Kobe beef. From ¥11,000.
- Kobe Portopia Hotel Restaurants, 10-1,6 Chome, Minatojima Nakamachi, Chuo-ku, ☎ +81 78-302-1111, . There are several restaurants in the Kobe Portopia Hotel, some with high floor views.
- Kokubu, 1-21-2 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku (Near Sannomiya Station), ☎ +81 78-321-1717. One of the top Kobe beef steakhouses.
- Medium Rare Steakhouse @ Oriental Hotel, 25 Kyomachi Chuo-ku Kobe Japan 650-0034 (A light 10 minute walk from Kobe-Sannomiya Station located in Oriental Hotel), ☎ +81 78-326-1577., . Lunch 11:30AM-2:30PM; Dinner 5:30PM-10:00PM. Great Kobe Beef, Hida Beef, Hamburg Steak, Abalone, and Fresh Japanese Tiger Prawns. All perfectly cooked right in front of you on Teppan grills to your liking. Lunch courses starting from ¥2500.
- Mouriya, Daiichi Kishi Bldg. 3F, 9-9 1-chome, Kitanagasa Dori, Chuouku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0012, ☎ 078-321-1990, . One of the most famous houses serving Kobe beef. The slightly reduced lunch specials are worth checking out. Must make reservations. ¥9,000-20,000.
- Sushidai, 1-9-2 Mozan-Biru 1F (Sannomiya), ☎ +81 78-599-5509, . 6PM-5AM. Definitely is the best place to enjoy sushi! With a cozy atmosphere, Japanese-style music and design, will make you feel comfortable and of course, fill your hungry stomach with fresh seafood, sashimi and sushi by Chef Nakanishi Shinsuke. Black-hair beef here is worth a try, too. The service is friendly and the kitchen is delightfully quick. Good drinks menu; try the ginger ale, Asahi beer, and wine. ¥7,000-9,000/person.
- Wakkoqu @ Shin-Kobe, 1-1 Kitanocho, Chuo-ku (At Shin-Kobe Station), ☎ +81 78-262-2838, . Kobe beef prepared right in front of you.
Kōbe's specialty are tachinomiya, literally stand-and-drink bars.
- Bora Bora, 2-13-19 Shimoyamatedori, ☎ +81 78-392-0440, . 11:30AM - 5:00AM, last order 4:30AM. Café and Restaurant open late that serves Mexican, fusion and Southeast Asian food, also a large variety of cocktails. They also have a large amount of Karaoke rooms and darts. They also do late night Karaoke with cheap all-you-can-drink deals.
- Chicken George  One of the most famous places with live music in Japan. Near Sannomiya station.
- Hub (ハブ), (2 min walk west of Hankyu Sannomiya station, on the street in front of Ikuta shrine), . A basement location of the British pub chain. Happy hour discount cocktails 5-7 pm.
- Iznt, M:2nd.bldg. 4F1-1-8 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe (5mins walk from Sannomiya station on Higashi-mon gai), ☎ 078-334-3040, . Mon. – Thu. 17:00 to 1:00 (0:30 last order) Fri. & Sat. 17:00 to Late. One of the most popular international bars in Sannomiya. Hosts various events including salsa nights and live music on weekends. Weekday food&drink deals are reasonable. A big plus is it's smoke-free policy(there is a separate room for smokers). 500~600.
- New Muenchen Kobe Taishikan (ニューミュンヘン神戸大使館), Sannomiya-cho, 2-chome, 5-18 (on Ikuta Road a block south of Center-Gai, about 3 blocks south of the JR tracks, under 10 min. by foot from either Hankyu, Hanshin, or JR Sannomiya station), tel. 078-391-3656, . Open 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, lunch hours are 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. A long-time Sapporo Beer brewpub and restaurant newly rebuilt after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 that serves seasonal brews and dishes as well as the timeless favorites of German and Japanese beer halls. Bar service on ground floor, table service on higher floors. Capacity 540. Beers range around ¥550-950, food ranges around ¥750-1500.
- Sone, 1-24-10 Nakayamate-dori (in Kitano just north of Sannomiya station), tel. 078-221-2055, . Not only an excellent place to relax with a drink, Sone also happens to be one of the best jazz clubs in Kansai. You will have to pay a cover charge on a night with big names performing.
- Cafe Freundlieb, 4-6-15 Ikutacho, Chuo-ku (Between Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya Stations), ☎ =+81 78-231-6051, . A cafe in a former church.
- Curve Bar, 1-10-6 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku (Near Motomachi Station), ☎ +81 78-321-2928 ([email protected]), . International dance club.
- Larus Kobe, 1-5-1 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku (Near Sannomiya Station), ☎ +81 78-391-2016, .
Early morning in Sannomiya
Kōbe has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from love hotels near Shin-Kobe to luxury hotels by the waterfront. If you're looking for cheaper alternatives, ask at the tourist information office in Sannomiya station (they speak English).
If you don't find a hotel, Osaka is only 20 minutes away on the JR line for ¥390.
- Hostel Nakamura Kobe, ☎ +81 78-777-6319.
- Hostel Yume Nomad, 1 Chome-2-2 Shinkaichi, ☎ +81 78-576-1818, .
- R2 Hostel, 2-4-6 Kumoi-dori (10 minute walk from Sannomiya Stn.), ☎ +81 80-4496-3034, . checkin: 3:00pm - 10:00pm; checkout: 10:00am. Solid hostel in a great central area. Free wifi, free computers, kitchen, lounge. Dorms ¥2,800, singles ¥3,900, twins ¥6,400, doubles ¥6,000.
- Kobe Motomachi Tokyu REI Hotel, 1-2-35, Sakaemachi-dori, Chuo-ku, ☎ +81 78-327-0109, . Mini-fridges in rooms.
- Hotel Crown Palais Kobe, 1 Chome-3-5 Higashikawasakicho, ☎ +81 78-362-1155, . Overlooks Mount Rokko and Osaka Bay.
- Hotel Pearl City Kobe, 7 Chome-5-1 Minatojima Nakamachi, ☎ +81 78-303-0100, .
- Hotel Sunroute Sopra Kobe, 1-1-22 Isobedor, ☎ +81 78-222-7500, . ¥5,500.
- Kobe Harborland New Otani, 1-3-5 Higashi-kawasaki-cho, ☎ +81 78-360-1111, . A member of the prestigious New Otani chain. While not quite swanky as its Tokyo flagship, the location near JR Kōbe station is good. ¥10,000.
- Hotel Tor Road, 3-1-19 Nakayamate-dori (between Sannomiya and Motomachi train stations), ☎ +81 78-391-6691 ([email protected]). New Muenchen Tor Road beer cellar right next door. Singles: ¥7500-9000, doubles/twins: ¥15,000-19,000.
- Kobe Kur Haus (神戸クアハウス), 3-10-15 Ninomiya-chou , Chuo-ku, tel. +81 78-222-3755. 8 minutes walking from Sannomiya station (Hankyu, Hanshin, JR Line). Spa and capsule hotel with a floor exclusively for women. ¥3,300 to ¥4,600.
- Ninomiya Ryokan (二宮旅館), 1-10-6 Kotonoo-chou , Chuo-ku. 6 minutes walking from Sannomiya station (Hankyu, Hanshin, JR Line). Single room ¥4,000.
- Kobe Bay Sheraton, 2-13 Koyocho-naka (Rokko-island near Island-center station (Rokko Liner Line)), ☎ +81 78-857-7000, .
- Kobe Kitano hotel (神戸北野ホテル), 3-3-20 Yamamoto-dori, Chuo-ku. 15 minutes away from Sannomiya station (Hankyu, Hanshin, JR Line). Twin rooms from ¥26,250 . Its owner and chef was a cook at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau (a restaurant in France, Michelin 3 stars restaurant). This hotel's plan includes dinner and breakfast.
- Oriental Hotel, 25 Kyomachi, Chuo-ku Kobe City 650-0034 (A light 10 minute walk from Kobe-Sannomiya Station in the center of Kobe's high end shopping district), ☎ +81 78-326-1500 (Domestic) +81-78-326-1500 (International), . checkin: 3:00 P.M.; checkout: 12:00 P.M.. Founded in 1870, Oriental Hotel is the first Western-style hotel in Japan. Rebuilt from the ground up in 2010, todays Oriental Hotel is the perfect combination of modern style and classic traditions. Spacious rooms, great amenities and world class service that goes above and beyond is only the tip of what makes this hotel loved by so many. 3 beautiful restaurants, including a steak house that serves the one and only Kobe Beef, sit atop the hotel overlooking the bay and Kobe city. Low rates starting from ¥7500 per person when booking for two. (34°41'16.5N,135°11'34.7E)
- Arima Onsen is a hot-spring town just north of Kobe on the other side of Mt. Rokko.
- Nishinomiya is between Kobe and Osaka, Mount Kabutoyama makes a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Takarazuka is famous for its all-female musical theatre troupe, the Takarazuka Revue.
- Osaka has more shopping and nightlife and a beautiful restored castle.
- Kyoto is the true cultural capital of Japan.
- Awaji Island connects to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge, 10 km far to the West. (10 minutes by train.)
- Kakogawa, 20 minutes away, is a bridge into history, culture and the outdoors.
- Himeji is a nice city with Japan's most beautiful well-preserved castle, a 30 minute train ride away.
- Okayama is a beautiful city, home to one of the top three gardens in Japan and the birthplace of the famous Momotaro tale
- Kurashiki is a charming stroll through old Japan, lined with local shops and museums
- Takamatsu is the capital of Kagawa prefecture known as the Udon Kingdom. It has Ritsurin-park and Yashima.
- Suma is a beach just a few minutes from Kobe on the subway. The beach is right outside Suma station and is a lively place full of DJs and restaurants.
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