Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Kobe is one of Japan's bigger cities.  It's built on the coast of the Inland Sea (the sea that is bordered by Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu)  on a thin strip of land with the Rokko Mountains rising behind it.  Kobe is famous as a port, as the home of Kobe beef and for the Hanshin earthquake of 1995 that killed more than 5,000 people.    Kobe was one of the first cities opened for foreign trade after the end of the Tokugawa shogunate's policy of isolation.  The port opened in 1863 and it remains a city with both a strong Chinese and western presence;  it is considered one of the most 'foreigner-friendly' places in Japan and is home to the Japan offices of many international corportations including Procter and Gamble, Daikin, Asics, Fuji-Xerox and Nestle.  
      The man hole covers in the footpath showing  the mountains and the sea.

As a centre of industry esp ship and aircraft building, Kobe was heavily bombed towards the end of the war, with more than 8000 people reported to have been killed as a result of one night of bombing on 17 March 1945.  Much of the city was destroyed though there are a remarkable number of old stone buildings near the water that survived (and can be seein in the photo adjacent).
We weren:t in Kobe long enough to be able to say with any authority what kind of city it is, other than that it is very compact and that there is a very discernable difference between different areas: Chinatown, lively street vendors selling an assortment of dumplings, soups, fried food and the like;  the old foreign settlement area which is the province of upmarket labels and trading houses; the waterfront with a fun park; the station areas with lots of neon, cheap restaurant chains, and discount ticket shops ;  the Kitano area up on the hill with old western style houses, cafes and an air of monied sophistication but where the roads are too narrow and steep for cars to go up (motor bikes are popular in Kobe).
In terms of major attractions it is probably limited and as such is a little off the tourist circuit; however it looks like it would be a very pleasant place to live.

On the way to the hotel:
Fried cabbage 'crepes' 130Y each
On the way to the hotel - Daimaru dept. store
On the way to the hotel - Motomachi shopping arcade

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