10 Reasons Why You Should Come to Kobe, Japan

I’ve called the City of Kobe home for the past 9 years and proudly admit that I am a big fan of the place. This place is a great place to live, raise a family and is a really nice place to visit.

When people think about visiting Japan, they often think of Tokyo, Kyoto and maybe Osaka. Kobe is not always on their lists of “must see” places, but it really should.

In this post I’m going to tell you some of the reasons you should visit Kobe and if you’re planning to live in Japan, make Kobe the place to hang your hat.

 

Kobe’s International Feel – Kobe was the second city in Japan to open up to the outside world in the late 1800’s. Ever since then it has had an international feel and a large foreign population. With this comes a wider variety of foreign restaurants and import shops than most other places in Japan. It has beautiful Japanese shrines and temples that people often seek out when visiting Japan as well as European architecture.

15871561_10157933682845577_8108597221493816607_n
Ikuta Shrine in Sannomiya in downtown Kobe.
14714990_10157500697280577_556108754918187762_o
Kobe’s Harborland area.
14633550_10157455520460577_3395274039053971097_o
Nankinmachi, Kobe’s Chinatown has a lot of amazing food to enjoy.

Comfortable Place as a Foreigner – Kobe has had a large foreign population for the past 150 years and because of that, Japanese residents of Kobe are fairly used to seeing non-Japanese people walking around or working in the city. In more rural areas of Japan or even other large cities, locals aren’t as used to seeing foreigners so you may get stares and surprised people when you go about your business. That’s not really the case in Kobe. People definitely feel more comfortable with foreign visitors and residents.

Vibrant Festivals – Kobe has it’s fair share of festivals throughout the year. There are large ones like the Kobe Matsuri and smaller neighborhood summer festivals. There are Jazz festivals, food festivals and ones that celebrate other cultures.

15390783_10157799921970577_4737704987918090502_n
Kobe Luminarie is a memorial light festival each December that remembers the victims of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. 

Closeness to Nature – A lot of Kobe is nature. The M. Rokko Range goes through the city. You can be walking through a bustling and exciting city and then minutes later find yourself wandering along a forest path enjoying birds, flowers and beautiful views. Places like the Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Rokko Farm are easily accessible from downtown or you can head up to the hiking trails behind Shin Kobe Station.

15590918_10157835400580577_7569887744772497396_o
5 minute walk behind Shin Kobe Station (Shinkansen Station) you get get connected with beauty and nature. 
15196064_10157725500375577_1066846414255660325_o
Taking the ropeway from downtown Kobe to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens. 
15196059_10157717831160577_4943804670153765137_o
Urban nature! A wild mandarin Duck swimming in a pond in Kobe, Japan. 

Great Food – Kobe is of course world renowned for it’s Kobe Beef, but there is a lot more here as well. World cuisine is represented throughout the city with many foreign restaurants. There are many import shops with foreign food and of course the Japanese food offerings in the city are amazing. The festival food is awesome as well!

Good Medical Service – If you have any health issues while in Kobe, Kobe City Medical Center located on Port Island is state-of-the-art and offers many services in English. They can arrange translators and a lot of their medical staff can communicate in English. I’ve had two surgeries at this hospital and had no communication issues even though my Japanese is limited.

Quiet Yet Convenient – With a population of about 1.5 million, Kobe is big enough to have everything you want, yet a much slower pace of life than bigger cities like Osaka and Tokyo.

14305267_10157323918775577_902968480283056561_o
Amenities and green space in downtown Kobe, Japan. 

The Ocean – Kobe is a port city. You’re right on the ocean. If fishing or bird watching is your thing, you’re all set. Harbor cruises and the scent of fresh sea air are always on offer.

14918847_10157596115355577_1375810800854549721_o
A beautiful port city. 

 

International Education – If you’re planning to move here with your family, you of course have the local Japanese schools as an option for your children, but there are also several international school. This is something not as common in cities of this size or smaller. Some of these schools have a long history in the city. Schools such as Canadian Academy, Marist Brothers International School, St. Michael’s International School and Kansai International Academy offer English language curriculums and top-notch education experiences.

17039265_10158212895650577_4929493448779357386_o
Old meets new in Kobe. 

Friendly People – People in Kobe are friendly and helpful. If they see you walking the streets in an obvious state of confusion because you cannot find the place you’re looking for, there’s a good chance a stranger will walk up to you and offer assistance. Some cities can have a cold feel, but Kobe isn’t one of them.

 

Kobe is a great city and one I have enjoyed living and raising my children in. It has a safe feel and lots of wonderful culture, both Japanese and foreign. It’s definitely a place you should plan to visit when coming to Japan.

 

 

 

The writer:

Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast and the Just Japan News Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.

Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev

Email: justjapanpodcast@gmail.com

 

Advertisements

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s