Kobe is a city of stories — ancient stories, modern stories, stories of resilience and stories that reach across the world.
The Epic Story
In legend, Empress Jingu, who ruled between 201 and 269, enshrined the young sun goddess Wakahirume in what would become one of the oldest and sacred temples in Japan — Ikuta-jinja. The supporters of Ikuta Shrine were called kanbe, which is an alternate reading of the kanji that would eventually be read as “Kobe.”
Nestled between the Rokko mountains and a coast with natural harbors, Kobe was the ideal spot for a port city. Even as far back as the 700s, the port, under various names, was important for international trade and relations with mainland Asia. Centuries later, the port was involved in a considerable amount of trade with the West, which had a profound impact on local architecture and culture. Many Western-style homes built in the late 1800s can still be seen today in the Kitano area.
The Cosmopolitan Story
The town of Kobe grew slowly over the years from a small shrine to an international port city. The city as we know it today was actually founded on April 1, 1889, and designated a municipality after World War II on September 1, 1956. This relatively young city has been shaped by both Japanese tradition and multiculturalism. In addition to the historic homes of Kitano, you can see Western-style offices, warehouses and former prefectural halls built at the turn of the 20th century. Around the same time period, Chinese immigrants also settled in Kobe, establishing Nankinmachi — also known as Kobe Chinatown.
In modern Kobe, you can find a wide variety of restaurants and shops catering to its multicultural roots. Whether you crave German currywurst or Cantonese cuisine, you can find just about anything to sate your gastronomic desires. You can also dine at restaurants selling the world renowned, melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. If you can’t find exactly what you’re hankering for, there are plenty of shops and markets that carry international ingredients for homemade meals.
The Love Story
Kobe is rich in shopping, restaurants, tourist attractions and history, making it a prime destination for tourists and locals alike. From Sannomiya to the harbor, the city is a delight for those who love to walk. Whether you want to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere alone, as a couple or with a large group of friends, there is something to stumble across for everyone.
For a romantic and historic jaunt, Lamplight Street in Harborland — with its shaped lamps and timeless ambiance — is hard to beat, though the 19th-century brick warehouses facing the waterfront are equally fun. You can wander around these peaceful brick giants or stop in for a nice dinner at one of the popular eateries that have taken up residence in this historic space.
Strolling down the Harbor Walk from the brick warehouses to the signal tower is one of the best ways to enjoy the port and the crisp seaside atmosphere. If you’re not content with merely walking along the water’s edge, you can also go on a boat cruise with one of the many companies offering various tours throughout the day and into the evening. The sight of the city skyline with the mountain backdrop from the middle of the bay is breathtaking. Nighttime cruises provide you with views of a vibrant, rainbow colored city that is equally impressive. It’s hard not to fall in love with Kobe.
The Underdog Story
The city of Kobe has been through a lot over the years, but its resilience is remarkable. Many areas were destroyed during World War II and had to be rebuilt, as was recounted in the heart-breaking and critically acclaimed 1988 Studio Ghibli animated film, Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies). In 1995, the city was devastated by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, and again needed to be rebuilt. Each time, the people of Kobe not only restored their diverse and cosmopolitan city but re-established it as a major Japanese port and business center. It’s this never-give-up spirit that makes Kobe a triumph and a joy to visit.
The Personal Story
Kobe’s present and future narrative is written by its residents and visitors. The city even has a program for them to share their own personal stories and information on social media. From hints on little-known hot spots to photos of its stunning landscapes, the Kobe PR Ambassadors’ posts can give travelers an inside look at the hidden areas not found in the guidebooks and a glimpse into what they love about living in this city.
Kobe is a city of stories. Experience them online before you visit — and then write your own chapter.
To see the Kobe PR Ambassadors’ posts and find out more, please visit
the Kobe PR Ambassador official Facebook page.
I love Kobe! Thank you for doing a story on it.