18 Dec 2013

Although famed worldwide for their beef, the small port city of Kobe boasts many other attractions that draw crowds every year. Following the end of the isolation policy and the opening up of the ports for Western trade, Kobe started flourishing into the sophisticated yet welcoming metropolis it is today. Below some of Kobe's must see sights.


Kitano-choAs you walk away from the commotion of city and upwards towards the mountains, you’ll likely find your way into Kitano-cho. This charming uphill neighborhood is a historical district that contains a number of Western-style residences that were erected during the late Meiji and early Taisho eras, which is when the Port of Kobe opened to foreign trade. The exteriors of many of these wooden-homes have been carefully preserved but the interiors have been refashioned into trendy restaurants, cafes and museums. The area boasts a variety of options to spend a few hours. Here are some of my top picks.


Starbucks:While visiting this international coffee shop chain may hardly strike you as a ‘local’ experience, the distinct décor epitomizes the old-world charm that Kitano is celebrated for. With a lounge, dining room, guest room and typewriter room, you feel like you’re stepping not into a standard café but someone’s home, which it precisely was in former times. Grab a coffee and sit on a cozy chair on the second floor balcony while people watching: you’ll feel transported back into a bygone era.



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Address: 650-0002 Hyogo Chuo-ku Kobe 3-1-31 Kitanocho
Hours: 08:00~22:00


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Bistrot Cafe de Paris Bistrot Café de Paris is a charming restaurant and café on the inclines of Kitano, serving up authentic and delicately presented French fare. The lunch set menus are a popular option among patrons, with the choice to round off your meal with a coffee on the terrace. You may unintentionally even forget for a moment that you’re in Japan. 

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Address: ‎Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe Chuo-dori 1-7-21 Yamamoto


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Center Gai Shopping Street Among countless other things Japan has gained a reputation worldwide for its fashion, minimalistic household items and knick-knacks. If shopping interests you, you can continue your quest for the best at the Center Gai Shopping Street. Center Gai is the main shopping area in Sannomiya, and is only a 5-minute walk from the main JR train station. Considering the abundance and range of stores here, you’ll be hard pressed to not find some of the items on your shopping list. If you’re not tuckered out after, the Motomachi- Shotengai awaits you for further exploration.

Directions:Once you reach JR station, find Flower Road and walk straight down South. You will then see a big sign with ‘Center Gai’ on your right hand side.

Hours:Hours vary by store. 

Chinatown (Nankinmachi) If you’re looking for a place to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of Sannomiya, you may want to steer clear of Nankinmachi. As you step off the busy main street of Center Gai, towards Motomachi and into Nankinmachi, you step right back into the commotion. Although comparatively compact compared to Chinatown’s worldwide, the area is teeming with outdoor food stalls selling all sorts of Chinese edibles, from pork buns to tapioca bubble tea. If you need to refuel with mid-day snack and would like to experience a ‘Japanese’ version of the ubiquitous Chinatown, Nankinmachi is worth the stopover.

Directions:Walk through Center Gai Shopping Street, towards Motomachi. Once you hit Daimaru Shopping Centre, cross the street and take a left.


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Hours:Hours vary by store. 

Motomachi-Koukashita and Motoko Town Motomachi-Koukashita is an underground shopping complex located underneath the train tracks. You will be able to browse through the many trendy stores, while listening to the perpetual rattle of the operating trains atop. The entire shopping area is divided into 7 sections, and the unwritten rule is that the deeper you go, the more unconventional the shops become. From Section 4 towards Kobe Station, the stores stock Showa-era odds and ends, such as toys, vinyl, appliances and clothing. Although you may walk away empty handed, browsing the old-school artifacts will without question keep you intrigued. In short, this shopping experience will have a bit more flavor than your standard grocery run.


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Hours:Hours vary by store.


Meriken ParkLocated right alongside the waterfront, Meriken Park is a park dotted with fountains, statues and modern art installations, as well as host to the city’s iconic Kobe Port Tower. To commemorate the victims who lost their lives during the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, one section of the wreckage at the port caused by the tremors remains preserved.

Directions:Meriken Park is a 10-minute walk south of Motomachi Station, just across the sightseeing cruise terminal from Kobe Harbourland.

 

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