Kobe (神戸) is a stylish city not far from Kyoto and Osaka, that is known as one of the first ports in Japan to open up to foreigners. It therefore has lots of unique architecture for a Japanese city, making for an interesting, cheap trip. For budget travelers Kobe can all be done in a one day trip.
Get a tourist map here, from Shin-Kobe station or Kobe station (see map below).
- If you are on a Tourist Visa, make sure you also pick up a copy of the Kobe Welcome Coupon for a load of discounts!
You can do Chinatown and Merikan Park together all on foot.
Places of interest
This was the area where foreigners where first allowed to stay when Kobe opened to them. Have a stroll around and you will see lots of nice European-style architecture. Entrance to buildings costs a bit, but you only need to go in if you have a strong interest in it.
Go up to the top of this for a nice view over the city. Price: Free Open: All day
A very tourist friendly Chinatown, which is great for a nice walk-around. Best to eat dinner elsewhere though, to avoid the tourist prices.
Full of all sorts of strange sculptures, architecture and some cool powerboats on display. Price: Free Open: All day
How to get there
With the Japan Rail Pass
From Kyoto station, take the Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Shin-Kobe station (28 mins).
From Osaka station, take the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (22 mins).
From Tokyo station, take the Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Shin-Kobe station (about 3 hours).
Without the Japan Rail Pass
From Kyoto station, take the JR Special Rapid to Osaka station, then the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (58 mins, 105o yen).
From Osaka station, take the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (22 mins, 390 yen).
How to get around
The best way is to use the City Loop Bus. See the official Tourist Map for the route.
Recommended Hostels and Cheap Hotels
Free Volunteer Guides
Kobe Voluntary Good-Will Guides – firstname.lastname@example.org
FeelKOBE – Official Kobe Tourism Site