Kobe is often referred to as ‘Japan’s most liveable city’. The standard of living is high, transport is cheap and easy, the crowds are much less elbow-y than Toyko and Osaka, and the food…well, the food is amazing. One of the attractions of Kobe is that there’s so much nearby – 20 minutes by train will transport you to the madness of downtown Osaka, while the historical temples of Kyoto are less than an hour away. But many Lexis students tell us that it’s the ‘lesser known’ attractions of Kobe that were the highlight of their stay. Here are some favourites that you really must check out!
- Mount Rokko: Mount Rokko is a stunning mountain range that provides panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. The mountain is home to several hiking trails, as well as several outdoor hot springs and a botanical garden. You can reach the top of Mount Rokko by taking the Rokko Cable Car, which offers breathtaking views along the way. The view across the bay to Osaka at night is something very special. If you feel like a challenge (and believe me, it IS a challenge), hike the length of the Rokko Range, starting at Sumaurakorean and finishing up at Takarazuka – a traverse of about 56km. Here’s a blog post from a few years back about running the course.
- Nada Sake Breweries: Kobe people will tell you that they have the freshest and cleanest water of any city in Japan, drawing it from the slopes of the Rokko Mountains. Not a people to let such an opportunity go to waste by….you know, drinking water, the locals instead turn it into alcohol. So, Kobe is famous for its delicious sake, and a visit to the Nada Sake Breweries is a must for anyone interested in Japanese sake culture. The breweries offer tours and tastings, allowing visitors to learn about the process of sake production and sample some of the best sake in the country.
- Kitano-cho: Kitano-cho is a historic neighborhood located in the heart of Kobe, known for its well-preserved Western-style homes. The neighborhood was once home to foreign merchants and diplomats, and today it offers a glimpse into Kobe’s past and the influence of Western culture on the city.
- Arima Onsen: Arima Onsen is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan, known for its therapeutic waters and beautiful natural surroundings. The hot spring is located just a short train ride from Kobe, and visitors can enjoy a relaxing soak in one of the many indoor or outdoor baths. Here’s a blog we did earlier on getting naked with your classmates.
- Akashi Kaikyo Bridge: The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world, connecting the city of Kobe to the island of Awaji. The bridge offers stunning views of the surrounding ocean and countryside, and there is a lookout point on the island side where visitors can take in the views.
- Meriken Park: Meriken Park is a popular waterfront park located just a few minutes stroll from Lexis Japan (it’s close enough to be a popular lunch spot for our students), offering scenic views of the port and the city skyline. The park is home to several monuments and attractions, including the Kobe Maritime Museum, which offers an interactive look at the history of Kobe’s port.
- Himeji Castle: Himeji Castle is a stunning castle located in the city of Himeji, just a short train ride from Kobe. The castle is considered one of the most beautiful in Japan, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the castle’s extensive grounds, including its many towers and courtyards. Several scenes from ‘The Last Samurai’ were shot around Himeji, while James Bond fans will recognise the castle well! You can read more about a trip to Himeji here.
There’s so much to see and do around Kobe….come and experience it like a local!