Free and Affordable Things to do in Kobe, Japan

Kobe, Japan, a city located in the Kansai Region of Japan is an amazing city that I have called home for 8 years. The city is located close to Osaka and is easily accessed via train and airplane. Known for it’s famous Kobe Beef as well as history of foreign residents, architecture and culture, this city by the see has a lot to offer.

Kobe is well known amongst Japanese people as being fashionable and trendy with amazing shopping, cafes and restaurants.

There are definitely many things to do while visiting the city. I wanted to write a post (this will be a series) to share some fun and wonderful things travelers and visitors to Kobe can do if they are on a budget. Many people from around the world visit as backpackers and budget travellers. They have a JR pass, a pack filled with clothes and sometimes, not a lot of money to spend.

This is the post for those people!

I thought about some of my favorite things to do in Kobe that won’t cost you a single Yen. I have been living in the city for 8 years now and even when I have money, tend to live somewhat frugally.

Free and Affordable Things to do in Kobe:


Meriken Park

Meriken Park is located along the Kobe waterfront. The name itself is derived from the word “American” since the original American Consulate in the 1800’s was located nearby (this building still stands near Chinatown and the park). It is a large park with wonderful ocean views. There is a memorial to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (Kobe Earthquake), the Kawasaki Museum, Maritime Museum and Kobe Tower all located around the park. These attractions have entrance fees, but the park doesn’t.

There are festivals and events there almost every weekend from spring throughout the summer and they are normally free. You can enjoy boat racing, tall ships, flea markets, summer matsuries and occasional concerts.

Why not just grab some bread from a local bakery in nearby Motomachi and relax in the park? I have spent many wonderful afternoons sitting by the ocean, watching boats and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.



Nada Sake Breweries

The Nada district of Kobe has a rich tradition in sake brewing. Even today some of the best sake in the world is produced in this part of Kobe.

There are many sake breweries located in the area and most of them have beautiful museums explaining the history of sake brewing in Kobe. The best part of these museums is that they all have free admission and most have gift shops/tasting rooms with free samples. You can explore the museum and have a few small drinks of sake for no cost!

There are walking tour maps available at tourist information centers and major train and subway stations in Kobe.

Many sake enthusiasts take the train to Hanshin Osihi Station (large walking tour map of local breweries posted there) and start their walk into Kobe’s sake making history from there.



Nunobiki Falls

Kobe’s famous and picturesque Nunobiki Falls are located a short hike from JR Shin-Kobe Station (Shinkansen Station). Go to the station and walk under it towards the mountain. The trails are clearly marked.

You’re just a 20-minute hike from the station to one of Kobe’s best-known sites. Admire the falls, take some selfies and other pics and keep on heading upwards. Within minutes you’ll be at the first observation area and you’ll have a glorious view of the city!

What’s the cost? …nothing!

The hiking trails are well-traveled “grade A” trails so a pair of running shoes is all you’ll need!



This is the first installment of this “Free and Affordable Things to do in Kobe” series. Keep an eye on JustJapanStuff for the next few weeks and months for more posts with more fun activities and ideas for budget travel in Kobe!


(Note: All photos are my own and people appearing in them did so with permission)


Follow me on Twitter: @jlandkev




One comment

  1. Great start to the series. I visited near by Osaka. I wish the tour would have included Kobe. Hopefully next year I’m planning on visiting Japan and will how I can include a visit to Kobe in the tour.


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