In the 19th century the Port of Kobe became one of the first cities to open to international trade. European traders made their homes in the city’s Kitano district, and many of their old Western-style homes and mansions still stand. After the massive 1995 earthquake that nearly leveled it, the city has rebuilt and is now considered one of the most beautiful in Japan. Indeed, with the mountains close by and the sea just a few kilometers away, many Japanese prefer to make Kobe their home.
Places to visit in Kobe
The Dutch Museum
A Former residence of the Dutch consul, this small museum displays various imports from the Netherlands. It also double as a perfume shop, where patrons can (for a fee) prepare their own perfume scents.
Kobe Animal Kingdom
Just south of Kobe’s city center via is Kobe Animal Kingdom. This unique zoo is filled with animals from all over the world, mostly kept in open enclosures so that visitors can get up close and personal with the animals. Among the exhibits are a bird show, and three red pandas who are sure to delight the children (or anybody who happens to like cute animals).
Meriken Park sits on the water’s edge. The site is a popular spot in Kobe for couples and strolling. In 1995, the park, which is built on reclaimed land, was badly damaged by the Great Hanshin Earthquake. A portion of the damaged waterfront remains as a memorial.
Nada district, which hosts many great Japanese Sake breweries. The Hakutsuru brewery and learn how Japanese brewers can go from simple rice to a refined and delicious product. Feel free to sample some while here.
Kitano (General Description)
Kitano lies to the north of Kobe’s hub at Sannomiya station. Kitano ward owes its fame to the many Westerners who lived here during the Meiji era. Take a pleasant stroll through the area and enjoy visiting one of the old homes-turned-museum.
Kobe Earthquake Museum
The Kobe Earthquake Museum covers the events of January 17, 1995, when a massive earthquake struck in the nearby district of Awaji. The resulting tremors rocked Kobe, toppling many buildings, homes and even portions of the Hanshin freeway. In the halls of the museum, one can experience the moments of shock and panic from the point of view of the average Kobe citizen. Over four floors of information ranging from audio-visual experiences to learning counters fill this impressive building.
Near the top of Kitano find a beautiful red-brick home. Perched atop this 1910 construction sits a weathercock, from whence the house gets its colloquial name. German merchant Gottfried Thomas built this home, but only occupied it about 5 years before moving on.