Often overlooked due to its more showy neighbours, the city of Kobe sits close enough to Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima that it can be visited as a day trip (or used as a stopover) from any of its compatriots. The city has a wealth of great things of its own to offer though, but is also one of the most enjoyable cities to while away some hours without actually trying to ‘see the sights’. The world-famous beef that Kobe is synonymous with can be tried across the globe, but it tastes so much better here. Is it excessive to go to another city just to have a meal? Of course – but do it anyway.
As one of the first places to welcome Western traders and merchants, the city of Kobe has an international tinge to it. The Kitano neighbourhood still retains a lot of the European mansions built by these early foreign residents, now mainly operating as museums. It’s a great place to wander around – a mishmash of architectural styles, interspersed with charming cafes and boutique shops. Nearby, and behind the Shin-Kobe train station, a hiking trail and ropeway climb up Mount Rokko. Take in spectacular city vistas, walk to a beautiful waterfall and even spend time in Japan’s largest herb garden – complete with tropical fruit and flowers.
A sign on the Meriken Park waterfront proudly exclaims ‘Be Kobe’ – and this is something we can really get behind. Kobe is great place to be, and anyone looking to see a part of modern Japan without the crowds of tourists should spend the day here, or even a night or two – especially to witness the city lights from the slopes of Rokkosan.