10 Things to do in Kobe city - Japan city guide! - Series

10 things to do in Kobe City! / What to do in Kobe City, Japan?

 Table of Contents

  1. Visit the beautiful Harbor.
  2. Go to Chinatown to try Chinese food and look at the beautiful architecture.
  3. Go hiking up to Mt. Rokko.
  4. Go hiking up to herb mountain and look at the Waterfalls on the way.
  5. Weathercock House (Former Thomas Residence)
  6. Visit the Ikuta shrine in Kobe City
  7. Hyogo prefectural museum of art - Kobe Museum 
  8. Look at the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park
  9. Eat the famous Kobe beef
  10. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge The world’s longest suspension bridge

10 Things to do in... - Japan city guide! - Series Check out more Cities here!

What to do in Kobe City (神戸市) - Where is Kobe City?

Japan Map with a circle around Kobe.

Map of Kobe in Japan.

Kobe is a city on Osaka Bay in central Japan. It is known for its signature marbled beef and scenic setting of mountains framing the harbor. The Ikuta Shrine, dating to the 3rd century, is among Japan's oldest Shinto shrines. Antique cable cars connect Kobe to Mt. Rokko, which offers panoramic views over the port. Beyond the Mount Rokko hills are the outdoor hot springs of Arima Onsen.

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Kobe has many places to visit.

1.) Visit the beautiful Harbor.

2.) Go to Chinatown to try Chinese food and look at the beautiful architecture.

3.) Go hiking up to Mt. Rokko.

4.) Go hiking up to herb mountain and look at the Waterfalls on the way.


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5.) Weathercock House (Former Thomas Residence)

6.) Visit the Ikuta shrine in Kobe

7.) Hyogo prefectural museum of art

8.) Look at the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

9.) Eat the famous Kobe beef


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10.) Akashi Kaikyo Bridge The world’s longest suspension bridge

10 Things to do in... - Japan city guide! - Series Check out more Cities here!

Visit the beautiful Harbor

Harborland (神戸ハーバーランド) is a shopping district in Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan. Kobe Port Tower is located there. This shopping district was made on the site of the former freight yard, Minatogawa Kamotsu Station of the Japanese National Railways. The yard was removed in 1982 and the shopping district opened in 1992.

The Kobe Port tower has a beautiful 360 view of the city the mountains and the Ocean.

Also next to the tower is the Kobe Maritime Museum.

View of Kobe Harborland picture taken from the top of the Kobe Port Tower

The Ferris wheel of the Kobe Harborland.

In red is the Kobe Port Tower and in green is the Maritime Museum

Go to Chinatown to try Chinese food and look at the beautiful architecture

Nankinmachi (南京町) is a compact Chinatownin central Kobe and a center of the Chinese community in the Kansai Region.

The area was developed by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after the port was opened to foreign trade in 1868.
As Chinatown developed, it became known as Nankinmachi after Nanjing, the former Chinese capital.
Nankinmachi is a popular tourist attraction and shopping and dining district.

Two main streets run through the district, meeting each other at a small plaza in the center.

They are packed with shops, restaurants and food stands that sell popular items such as steamed buns (manju), ramen, tapioca drinks and various other Chinese dishes, many of which have been Japanized to a certain degree.

Beautiful View of the China Town in Kobe.

The central square of China Town Kobe.

Also the central Square of China town in Kobe.


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Go hiking up to Mt. Rokko

Standing at 931 meters, panoramic views of Kobe and Osaka can be enjoyed, and in particular the amazing sunset and night view.

Most people would take a cable car up to the Rokko-Shidare Observation deck, however, if you are up for some adventure, Mt Rokko offers a challenging hike up to the peak.

Also, you can hike all over the mountain from Kobe up to the summit and back down to Arima Onsen. The way down to Arima Onsen has many beautiful Waterfalls.

View from the peak of Mount Rokko towards Osaka.

Kiosk with restrooms and more on Top of Mount Rokko

Cable car driving to the top of the mountain.

Viewing Point on top of Mount Rokko.

Go hiking up to herb mountain and look at the waterfalls!

Mount Futatabi - Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens - Nunobiki Falls

Shin-Kobe Ropeway (新神戸ロープウェー) is one of three services that lifts tourists up the southern slopes of the Rokko mountain chain. The ropeway departs from next to Shin-Kobe Station, Kobe's Shinkansen station. As it ascends, it passes by the Nunobiki Waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden, giving a nice aerial view of both. The highlight of the ride lies in the observation deck located just beside the top station, which offers spectacular views of Kobe and is a popular night view spot.

An alternative way to get to the top station is via a hiking trail from Shin-Kobe Station. It is somewhat surprising that only a few steps north of the station are forests shielded from the rumbles of the city. A 15-20 minute climb through the woods takes you to the 43-meter tall Nunobiki Waterfall, whose name comes from its draped cloth-like appearance. Five minutes eastof here is the Miharashi Observatory, which offers decent views of the city.

A further 20-minute scale up the mountain takes you to the middle station of Shin-Kobe Ropeway and the lower entrance of Nunobiki Herb Garden, one of Japan's largest herb gardens with hundreds of herb species and seasonal flowers. A glasshouse in the garden makes growing flowers and fruits such as guavas and papayas possible throughout the year.

Nunobiki Waterfall
At the upper entrance of the garden is the top station of Shin-Kobe Ropeway. Here, in addition to the observation deck, is a rest house with a cafe, restaurant and souvenir shop which sells many herbal and aromatic products. There is also a "Rose Symphony Garden", where visitors can enjoy viewing different varieties of roses during their blooming seasons while listening to music.

For hikers who would rather skip the garden, the top station and observation deck can be hiked to follow a 30-minute trail that bypasses the garden on its east. After reaching the ropeway's top station, the same trail continues on to Mount Maya, one of the peaks of the Rokko mountain chain.

Here is a Video of me Hiking up to the herb Gardens.


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Weathercock House (Former Thomas Residence)

A symbol of Ijinkan. A bold brick structure standing in front of the square among the numerous remaining foreign residences in Kitano, this one is known for its bold architectural beauty, boasting a red brick exterior. The weathercock on the steeple has become a symbol of the building, which is full of elegant furniture and dignified interiors.

About the Weathercock House and Its Century of History
Kobe's Weathercock House, A Century-Old Foreign Residence
In 2017, the city of Kobe will celebrate 150 years since it opened its ports to foreign trade. Some of the homes of those foreign traders’ homes, called ijinkan, are still standing, such as the Former Thomas Residence. Commonly known as the Weathercock House for its weathercock ornament on the roof which shows the direction of the wind, the home has a distinct architectural style and brown brick walls. Designated as an Important Cultural Property in Japan, it boasts more than 300,000 visitors a year.

Kobe's Weathercock House, A Century-Old Foreign Residence
Pay at the reception area and head inside. Admission is 500 yen, but free for high schoolers and younger. Check the homepage for other available discounts. There are brochures in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Korean.

View from the hill behind the House.
One of the many rooms inside the residence.

The View from the front of the house.


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Visit the Ikuta shrine in Kobe

Ikuta Shrine (生田神社) is a Shinto shrine in the Chūō Ward of Kobe, Japan, and is possibly among the oldest shrines in the country.

According to Nihon Shoki, it was founded by Empress Jingū at the beginning of the 3rd century AD to enshrine the kami Wakahirume.

It was one of three shrines established at this time; the others are Hirota Shrine, dedicated to Amaterasu, and Nagata Shrine, dedicated to Kotoshiro-nushi (also known as Ebisu).

During the Genpei War, parts of the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani took place in and around this shrine, and are commemorated by markers in the Ikuta forest behind the shrine.

The shrine's land was much larger back then before the city of Kobe was built around it. Thus, the precise locations of skirmishes or events can no longer be commemorated on shrine land.

Hyogoprefectural museum of art

The Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art (兵庫県立美術館) is a purpose-built municipal art gallery in Nada-ku, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

It was opened in 2002.

The major collections of the museum are foreign and Japanese sculptures, foreign and Japanese prints, Western-style and Japanese-style paintings associated with Hyogo Prefecture, Japanese great works in the modern era, and contemporary art.

This museum has memorial rooms of Ryōhei Koiso and Kanayama Heizō.

They are two of the greatest contemporary artists in Japan.

The building of the museum is a modern, concrete construction by famed architect Tadao Ando

Look at the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

A 60m stretch of the Meriken wharf quay wall has been preserved as is to show Kobe visitors the immense damage inflicted by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which struck the city in 1995.

The scope of damage within Kobe Port and the road to recovery is also showcased via photos and videos, telling a compelling and unforgettable tale that is sure to leave a mark on those who did not experience the earthquake for themselves.

Eat the famous Kobe beef

Kobe beef (神戸ビーフ) is Wagyu beef from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle, raised in Japan's Hyōgo Prefecture according to rules set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.

The meat is a delicacy, valued for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, sashimi, and teppanyaki.

Kobe beef is generally considered one of the three top brands (known as Sandai Wagyu, "the three big beefs"), along with Matsusaka beef and Ōmi beef or Yonezawa beef.

Kobe beef is also called Kōbe-niku (神戸肉, "Kobe meat"), Kōbe-gyū, or Kōbe-ushi (神戸牛, "Kobe cattle") in Japanese.

You can find restaurants focusing on and serving Kobe beef in different ways all over Kobe and the Kansai area.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge The world’s longest suspension bridge

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Japanese: 明石海峡大橋) is a suspension bridge that links the city of Kobe on the Japanese island of Honshu to Iwaya on Awaji Island. It is part of the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway and crosses the busy and turbulent Akashi Strait (Akashi Kaikyō in Japanese).

It was completed in 1998 and has the second longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world, at 1,991meters (6,532 ft), only behind the 1915 Çanakkale Bridgewhich was opened in March 2022.

It is one of the key links of the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project, which created three routes across the Inland Sea.


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10 Things to do in... - Japan city guide! - Series Check out more Cities here!

Where to stay in Kobe?

There is more than one option, I will list here 5 of my favorite places in different price categories.

1.) Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers

Price from 15000 JPY ($110 USD) per night (2 People).
4-star hotel located in Higashinada
You can look forward to a nightclub, a roundtrip airport shuttle, and an indoor mineral hot spring (onsen) at Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers. For some rest and relaxation, visit the sauna, and indulge in a body treatment, a massage, or a facial. Be sure to enjoy a meal at any of the 4 onsite restaurants, which feature French cuisine and more. Stay connected with free in-room WiFi, and guests can find other amenities such as a terrace and a coffee shop/cafe.
You'll also enjoy the following perks during your stay:
  • An indoor pool
  • Free Parking
  • Buffet breakfast (surcharge), hot springs on site, and 2 outdoor tennis courts
  • Limo/town car service, an electric car charging station, and luggage storage
  • Guest reviews give good marks for the overall value, pool, and location
Room features
All 270 rooms offer comforts such as air conditioning, as well as perks like free WiFi and safes.
Other conveniences in all rooms include:
  • Bathrooms with tubs or showers and bidets
  • Heating, daily housekeeping, and desks

More Information here:

Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers


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2.) Kobe City Gardens Hotel

Kobe City Gardens Hotel

Price from 5500 JPY ($40 USD) per night (2 People).
3-star hotel located in Chuo Ward
Kobe City Gardens Hotel provides dry cleaning/laundry services and more. Guests can connect to free in-room WiFi.
Other perks at this hotel include:
  • Self parking (surcharge), a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage
  • A computer station, an elevator, and tour/ticket assistance
Room features
All 56 rooms boast comforts such as air conditioning and bathrobes, in addition to thoughtful touches like free WiFi and sound-insulated walls.
Extra conveniences in all rooms include:
  • Bathrooms with hydromassage showers and bidets
  • 24-inch flat-screen TVs with digital channels
  • Coffee/tea makers, heating, and daily housekeeping


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More Information here:

Kobe City Gardens Hotel

3.) Arima onsen taketoritei maruyama

arima onsen taketoritei maruyama

Experience world-class service at Arima Onsen Taketoritei Maruyama accommodation.
Taketoritei Maruyama is a non-smoking Japanese-style accommodation with natural hot springs for private use and free Wi-Fi throughout. Located on a hill, a 15-minute walk from Kobe Electric Railway Arima Onsen Station, the accommodation offers scenic views of Arima Onsen.

Guests at the Maruyama Taketoritei can relax with a hot spring bath or massage treatment. Facilities include drinks vending machines and a free shuttle service to/from Kobe Electric Railway Arima Onsen Station and Arima Onsen Bus Stop.

The air-conditioned rooms feature a seating area with tatami (woven-straw) floors and a low table with seat cushions. Some rooms have beds, while others have traditional futon beds. All rooms are equipped with an LCD TV, yukata bathrobes and a fridge.
The hostel is a 10-minute walk from the Arima Onsen area. Osaka Umeda Station is a 55-minute bus ride away.
According to independent guest reviews, this is the most popular part of Kōbe.

More Information here:

Arima onsen taketoritei maruyama

More Affordable options are here my personal top 3 of the Budget hotels!

While affordability can be subjective, here are three hotels in Kobe, Japan that are often considered budget-friendly options:

  1. Kobe Sannomiya Union Hotel: Located in the heart of Kobe's Sannomiya area, this hotel offers comfortable and reasonably priced rooms. It provides a convenient base for exploring the city, with easy access to transportation, shopping areas, and restaurants.

    (~$40USD for 2 people)

  2. Hotel Sunroute Sopra Kobe: Situated near JR Kobe Station, Hotel Sunroute Sopra Kobe offers affordable accommodation with modern amenities. The hotel features compact but well-designed rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant. It's a convenient choice for travelers who want to explore the city or use Kobe as a base for day trips to nearby attractions.

    (~$35USD for 2 people)

  3. Hotel Monterey Kobe: This hotel is located in Kobe's Harborland area, offering affordable rooms with a touch of European elegance. The rooms are compact but comfortable, and the hotel provides amenities like free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant. Its proximity to attractions like Kobe Port Tower and Kobe Harborland makes it a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers.

    (~$50USDfor 2 people)

Top hostels and sharehouses in Kobe

  1. Guesthouse Maya: Located in the scenic Rokko Mountain area, Guesthouse Maya offers a cozy and friendly atmosphere. The guesthouse provides dormitory-style rooms and private rooms, along with common areas for socializing. It's a popular choice for nature lovers and hikers due to its proximity to hiking trails and beautiful views of the city.

    (~$25USDfor 1 person)

  2. HOSTEL NAKAMURA Kobe: is located in the Chūō-ku area, a district of Kobe. Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park and Harborland Park give a taste of the beautiful nature in the area. Local attractions also include the following: Kobe Anpanman Children's Museum & Mall and Sorakuen Garden. Also worth a visit are these two highlights: Kōbe Maritime Museum and Kōbe Water Science Museum.

    (~$20USDfor 1 person)

  3. Hostel Anchorage is located in the Chūō-ku area of Kobe, close to an underground station. Motomachi shopping street and Harborland Kōbe are worth a trip if you feel like shopping. If you'd rather admire the region's nature, visit the following: Nunobiki Waterfalls and Meriken Park. Animal Kingdom Kōbe and Nunobiki Herb Park are two highlights not to be missed.

    (~$20USD for 1 person)

Most hostels offer cheaper prices for monthly stays in case of a longer travel time!

It's important to note that hotel prices can vary depending on the season, availability, and other factors. It's always a good idea to check the latest rates and availability for your desired travel dates.


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