Kobe is one of Japan’s most attractive cities, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan’s ten largest cities.
Surrounded by the majestic Rokko mountain range, Kobe has been an important port city in Japan for centuries. It was one of the first cities in the country open to foreign trade in the 19th century.
Its name is said to have originated from the word “Kanbe”, who are the ancient people who belonged to the shrines in the area. The city has also famously lent its name to the world-renowned Kobe beef, a tender flavourful meat mostly served in shabu shabu, teppanyaki or steak. The prized Japanese delicacy can fetch up to a few thousand yen per hundred grams.
A popular tourist attraction in Kobe is the Sorakuen Garden, a traditional Japanese garden located in the city centre. Complete with sighing bridges, lakes, willow trees, pavillions and a beautiful colonial mansion called Hassam House, the gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll.
A walk in the district of Kitano-cho is also an interesting way to spend the afternoon – as the area once occupied by foreign diplomats and merchants is full of European colonial mansions that are now open to the public as museums.
Kobe is also famous for its sake breweries located east of the city in Nada district. Thanks to the availability of high quality rice in the region, Nada has long been producing these rice wines for export. Nada has plenty of brewery tours and museums, which should not be missed.