With its stunning location, perched on a strip of land between the mountains and the calm waters of Osaka Bay, laid-back Kobe is well known as one of Japan’s most pleasant and welcoming cities.
Kobe will play host to England, Ireland and Scotland matches during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and fans are certain to enjoy their visit to this small but beautiful Japanese city.
Welcome to Kobe
As one of Japan’s biggest and busiest ports, Kobe has been welcoming foreign visitors for centuries. This foreign influence helped Kobe develop its own unique culture with some surprising connections to Britain including a fondness for drinking tea with milk and the popularity of British sports, especially rugby. After a few days in this compact and charming corner of Japan with its own unique character, beautiful views, great food and lively nightlife you will find it hard to leave.
Rugby in Kobe
Along with the long popularity of rugby, Kobe was the location of Japan’s first football match in 1871 and first golf course in 1903 and will now be one of the cities to host the country’s first Rugby World Cup.
Rugby World Cup matches in Kobe will be played at the Kobe Misaki Stadium. Opened just before the FIFA World Cup in 2002, this all-weather stadium with a retractable roof is famous for its up-close, dynamic spectator experience and fantastic atmosphere. The stadium can be reached with a 10-minute subway ride and a 5-minute walk from central Kobe.
Things to do in Kobe
The area to the south of Sannomiya station is the site of the former foreign settlement and retains some beautiful old buildings. The area is now home to some great shopping and cafes.
Overlooking the bay, Meriken Park and Kobe Harbourland are popular with locals who want to escape the bustle of the city centre. With the 19thcentury redbrick warehouses, the spacious park and iconic Kobe Port Tower as well as some fantastic museums, it is easy to spend a relaxing afternoon here by the water.
Historic Kitano-cho is another popular area of Kobe that is lovely to wander around taking in the atmosphere and enjoying an abundance of independent boutiques and trendy cafes.
Kobe has one of Japan’s Top-3 night time cityscapes, which should not be missed. There are three cable car services up into the Rokko mountains, offering stunning views of the city and mountain forests and a spectacular night view from the top. There are also hiking trails into the mountains for the more energetic, you should be able to reach the observation deck in 2-3 hours.
Kobe also has a thriving art scene. Check out the 2019 Kobe TRANS Art Project!
Eating & Drinking in Kobe
Kobe is probably most famous in Europe for its local delicacy – Kobe beef, which is of course widely available across the city.
The busiest areas of the city after dark are Sannomiya, Kitano and Motomachi, where some of Japan’s best international cuisine can be found, especially Indian and Chinese food, as well as many restaurants serving the local beef.
The Nada area of the city has long been Japan’s top sake producer. Perfect weather, water and the availability of quality rice have helped Nada to create some of the best sakes for many centuries. Some of the distilleries have tours, museums and tastings which can add something special to your visit.
Where to Stay
Kobe has a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Most hotels are concentrated around Sannomiya, Shin-Kobe and Kitano-cho areas.
Kobe is located in the Kansai region of western Japan, just a short bullet train ride from Osaka and Kyoto, and within easy reach of a huge variety of other popular destinations.
- Awaji Island, the wild countryside of Shikoku and countless beautiful islands in the Seto Inland Sea are only a couple of hours away by bus, train or ferry.
- One of Japan’s most incredible and complete castles is only 40 minutes by bullet train at Himeji. This iconic Japanese castle is beautiful and its fascinating history is well told by English-speaking guides.
- There are numerous onsen hot spring resorts in reach of Kobe. These typically Japanese baths are quite an experience and will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Getting to Kobe
From Osaka and Kyoto, Shin-Kobe station is just a short Bullet Train ride away while Sannomiya station in downtown Kobe can be reached by other intercity trains from Osaka in around 30 minutes.
For those coming from Tokyo, Shin-Kobe is 2 hours 40 minutes by Bullet Train and Kobe airport is a 1¼ hour flight from Tokyo Haneda.
Getting around Kobe
Central Kobe is easy to explore on foot and anywhere a little further can be reached on the city subway, which is also useful to transfer from the Bullet Train at Shin-Kobe to Sannomiya station in downtown Kobe.
The Kobe City Loop Bus takes in most of Kobe’s major attractions and sightseeing spots and is a popular way to see the city’s highlights.
To Kobe Misaki Stadium take the Kobe City Subway Kaigan Line from Sannomiya Station to Misaki Koen Station (about 10 minutes). From Misaki Koen it is a five-minute walk to the stadium.
For more information on tourism in Kobe, please visit Kobe Tourism Bureau