Top 8 Highlights That May Surprise You About Kobe, Japan – Osaka Bay

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Port of Kobe, Hyogo Profecture, Japan

The 4th busiest port in Japan and located at the central part of the archipelago, Port of Kobe lies on the vital routes of international marine transportation networks that connect to 500 ports in 130 countries of the world. While this is a paramount commercial region, it is also a favored leisure area. It is famous for having an attractive terrain due to the fact that it lies at the foot of the majestic Rokko Mountains protecting the port from strong winds and the city of Kobe nearby.

Because of its clever location, most prime steel and shipbuilding conglomerates have set up their businesses at the Port of Kobe. Food products, small appliances, communications and transportation equipment are also produced here. It has container, liner and ferry terminals administered by the Kobe Port Terminal Corporation (KPTC) and it can be accessed freely by sea, air and land transportation system from the different areas of Japan.

An Overview on Kobe:

At an era when Japan was unfolding its doors to the West, a port was established at Osaka Bay in 1868 as a favor to colonial powers, which would become the City of Kobe in the future. Nine years prior to that, Nagasaki and Yokohama were already ministering to foreign vessels. These days, a Jewish synagogue, European-style neighborhood, a Chinese quarter named after China‘s ancient capital, Japan‘s first Muslim mosque and the country’s foremost Sikh (Indian) temple stand as a nudge that Kobe was once a city where foreigners with their respective culture in tow have first came to Japan.

On the dawn of January 17, 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake with a destructive 7.3 richter scale magnitude had struck Kobe. It has killed 6, 433 people, made 300,000 residents homeless, razed to the ground at least 10,000 structures and major facilities at Kobe Port then collapsed the Hanshin Expressway. It indeed was the deadliest disaster of all time but today, any tourist coming to the city can’t see anymore of the earthquake’s repercussions because Kobe has been painstakingly restored to its former grandeur.

Map showing the location of Kobe, Japan.

With a population of over 1.5 million people, I had set foot on this cosmopolitan port city with an international vibe via the tanker IVS Kingbird on September 2015. Often rated as the best spot for expats to live in Japan, where it is balanced between Osaka Bay and the towering Mount Rokko, Kobe is heterogenous and surprising. Famous for being a traveler’s delight, this city’s major attractions are necessary parts of its landscape and history, so read on the top highlights that may surprise you about Kobe, Japan.

Birthplace of the Karaoke

Daisuke Inoue with his karaoke.

In 1971, a hiri-katari (freelance musician) named Daisuke Inoue was asked by a customer to record a background music while he sings and this gave him the idea to invent the karaoke machine. A top highlight that may surprise you, Inoue‘s creation had spread like wildfire at bars in Kobe then on to Osaka, to Tokyo and throughout the world. Though he never patented his invention ( it was fellow Filipino Roberto del Rosario who developed the sing-along system in 1975) and did not make a profit from it, Inoue somehow has taught the world to sing.

Home to the Best Wagyu in the World

Tajima cattle raised in Kobe, source of the best wagyu beef in the world.

Take note teppanyaki lovers of the world – a top highlight that may surprise you, this city is the origin of the famous Kobe beef, the best wagyu beef in the world. Coming from a regional breed of wagyu black cattle named Tajima where farmers in Kobe pamper their animals like “royalty”, feeding them grasses, vegetables, fruits, extra vitamins and fresh milk in order to come up with that distinct soft and flavorful taste. You know you can’t say you’ve been to Kobe if you have not tried its famous beef so don’t forget to visit the nearest teppanyaki house where the chef cooks the “melt-in-your-mouth” meat right at your table.

Wagyu beef teppanyaki.

Haven of Japan’s Best Sake

And due to the abundance of high-quality rice, ideal water and a conducive weather condition, a top highlight that may surprise you about Kobe is that it’s a haven to Japan‘s best sake. Explore the city’s Nada district and there, you will find the nation’s top sake producing breweries operating since the 17th century two of which has a museum that showcases the process of sake making. In addition to a free guided tour inside the breweries, they also offer a free taste of the iconic drink including the popular sake jelly dessert.

Beyond Paris, Kobe Hosts the Biannual Fashion Week

Motomachi shopping street in Kobe, Japan.

Did you know that “if you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe” to experience fashion in a new level, a top highlight that may surprise you as styles are dominant in this city. In fact, twice a year it holds the Kobe Fashion Week which hauls together the nation’s top designers including international guests. Famous for being a fashion city since 1973, Kobe is a great place for shopping as well particularly at Motomachi which is Kobe’s longest shopping street.

It Has a Train Station Near to a Stunning Waterfall

Just a few steps from the Shin-Kobe train station lies Nunobiki-No-Taki (or Nunobiki waterfalls) a hidden jewel and a top highlight that may surprise you in Kobe. Considered as one of the most celestial falls in Japan because the water appears like a suspended white cloth. Much loved as the essence for art, poems and subject of admiration for years, you will some of the odes carved into stones around the falls when you explore the area.

One of Japan’s Oldest “Onsen” Cities

Dating back to more than 1,000 years, Arima Onsen is an ancient hot spring site which is a top highlight that may surprise you about Kobe, Japan. Famous in the world for being called a “golden spring” because of its reddish brown hue, the origin of the hot spring is uncertain but it is believed for its high iron content that changes color when exposed to air and known to alleviate poor circulation and muscle pains. So take your time to get rejuvenated from a tiring day at Arima Onsen and experience the high salt content of its waters for a moisturizing effect on your tired body.

It Got An Artificial Island Called Rokko

As population grew through the years in Kobe, the city ran out of space to expand so, urban planners came up with a brilliant idea to solve the problem – by moving rocks from the Rokko Mountains to make an artificial island. Thus, Rokko Island was created, which makes it one of the city’s points of interests, a top highlight that may surprise you about Kobe. Definitely worth a visit when you’re in the city for aside of its amusement parks, hotels, restaurants and the Kobe Fashion Museum at the area, the view of the sunset from Rokko Island will surely take your breath away.

Home to Nankin-machi, One of Japan’s Premier Chinatown areas.

Named after the former capital of China which was Nanking, Nankinmachi is a top highlight that may surprise you about Kobe as this is a hub of excellent Chinese cuisine and aromatic street foods. Populated by Chinese traders at the time when Kobe Port was opened to the West in 1868, Nankinmachi is Japan‘s second largest Chinatown. A famous district for dining out and shopping, this area is a magnet for traditional festivities such as the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival.

A hip and welcoming city that takes pride of its innate charm and striking landmarks. Kobe should not be missed out when you go for a visit to Japan. Sometimes we often think of Tokyo or Osaka as the better cities to explore but this city should be on your “must-see” list as well. It has an international vibe, full of friendly people, great foods aplenty and most of all, nature is never too far.

Reference: Wikipedia