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Kobe

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in kobe

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K?be (??) is one of Japan's underappreciated cities. A cosmopolitan port city with an international flavor, hemmed in by Mt. Rokko, it constantly comes up number one in expatriate rankings of the best place to live in Japan.

Port of KobePort of Kobe
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Port of Kobe

kobe Travel Guide :

Kobe

Understand

A port in what would become K?be was established as a concession to western powers in 1868, during the time when Japan was opening to the world. Nagasaki and Yokohama had already begun serving foreign ships nine years earlier. Today, a synagogue, a Chinatown, and European architecture mark K?be as a place that foreigners and foreign culture first came to Japan.

On January 17, 1995 an earthquake measured at 7.3 on the Richter Scale occurred at 05:46am JST near the city killing 6,433, making 300,000 homeless and destroying large parts of the port facilities and other parts of the city. It was one of the most costly natural disasters in modern history. The earthquake notably destroyed the Hanshin Expressway, an elevated freeway which dramatically toppled over: within Japan, the earthquake is known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake (or the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake). In the last 10 years, the city has recovered completely, but it lost some of its ship traffic.

K?be's core surrounds Sannomiya (???) Station, rather than Kobe Station. Sannomiya station has a tourist information office, well-stocked with area maps.

Kobe

Get in

Kobe

By plane

The nearest international airport is Kansai International Airport. The fastest, albeit traffic-prone, way to get from there to Kobe is the Airport Limousine bus, although the JR Rapid Express connecting at Osaka is not much slower and more dependable. The ferry service running between Kobe to the airport was stopped in 2003.

Airport buses cost ¥1800, and the run to Kobe's central business district, Sannomiya (??), is listed to take 65 to 75 minutes depending on whether the bus travels directly to Sannomiya or stops first on Rokko Island. By JR, the ride costs ¥2410 and lasts 90 minutes, taking the Kanku Kaisoku (????) rapid to Osaka station and changing there to the Shin-kaisoku (??? - Special Rapid) that runs to both Sannomiya and Kobe stations.

Currently, the nearest domestic airport is Osaka's Itami Airport. Airport buses run from Itami to Sannomiya in 40 minutes and cost ¥1020.

However, Kobe's own airport, built on reclaimed land in front of the harbor, is under construction. It is currently scheduled to open on February 16, 2006. Both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) plan to offer service to Kobe from Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo, Sendai, Okinawa, and Kagoshima when the new airport opens. ANA will also offer service from Niigata, while JAL will also have flights from Kumamoto.

Kobe

By train

The nearest station on Japan's high-speed shinkansen network is at Shin-Kobe station. From Tokyo station, Shin-Kobe is 2 hours, 50 minutes away via Nozomi (¥14670); 3 hours and 20 minutes via Hikari (¥14270; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). From Shin-Kobe station, take the Seishin Yamate subway line one stop to Sannomiya (¥200).

From Osaka, there are several ways to arrive in Sannomiya:

  • Trains on the Hankyu and Hanshin private lines depart respectively from Hankyu-Umeda and Hanshin-Umeda stations and take roughly half an hour to reach Sannomiya (¥310).
  • The best option via JR is to take the Shin-kaisoku (??? - Special Rapid) or Kaisoku (?? - Rapid) service that departs from JR Osaka station, running to Sannomiya in 20 and 26 minutes, respectively (¥540, no charge with the Japan Rail Pass).

From Kyoto, Sannomiya is 50 minutes away from the main train station via Shin-kaisoku (¥1210; no charge with the Japan Rail Pass). You can also make the run to the area in 30 minutes via bullet train, but it is more expensive, and if you have the rail pass, you can only take one train every hour without changing trains (the Hikari that runs through to Okayama).

From the central area of Kyoto (near Gion and the shopping district), you can reach Sannomiya in 70 minutes via Hankyu limited express, changing once at Juso station (¥600). Hankyu trains depart from the Kawaramachi and Karasuma stations.

Kobe

By bus

There are overnight buses from the Tokyo area: The Dream Kobe from Tokyo station, and the New Dream Kobe from Shinjuku station, which run to Shin-Kobe, Sannomiya and Kobe stations in approximately 9 hours (¥8690 one-way; ¥15640 round trip). The discounted Seishun Dream Kobe from Tokyo, which uses a regular bus instead of a more spacious bus, costs only ¥5000 each way (¥9500 round trip).

Kobe

Get around

Kobe

By train

The Hankyu (??), Hanshin (??) and JR lines cross K?be in a west-east direction, and provide the cheapest and fastest way to travel across town. Each of these three lines have their own station located around the busy central Sannomiya shopping district and each provide access to different points of interest.

For visitors with a Japan Rail Pass, JR will be of the most use. Shin-kaisoku (??? - Special Rapid) trains stop at both Sannomiya and K?be stations and provide the best way to travel west towards AkashiAkashi and Himeji or east towards Kyoto and Osaka. Boarding a Futsu (?? - Local) from either Sannomiya or K?be stations will allow you to easy access to Motomachi (for Nankin-machi and Meriken-park) Nada (for the sake brewing district and museums) Rokkomichi (for buses to Mt. Rokko) and Sumiyoshi (for the Rokko Liner to Rokko Island).

The Hankyu and Hanshin lines are of less use to tourists but you may be forced to use them to visit certain sights. Koshien Stadium, home of the baseball team the Hanshin Tigers, is easily accessible from Hanshin Koshien Station and both lines provide service to Shinkaichi for transfer to the private Kobe Dentetsu line and access to the famed Arima OnsenArima Onsen hot-spring district.

Kobe

By subway

K?be has two subway lines. The Kaigan Line runs along along the coast, and the Yamate-Seishin Line runs toward the mountains. Both are more expensive than ordinary trains and unlikely to be of use for the traveler, except when connecting to the Shin-K?be, the station located north of the city where the Sanyo Shinkansen stops.

Kobe

By light rail

The automated Port Liner links Sannomiya to the reclaimed port district south of the city, and (in 2006) to the new airport as well. Likewise, the Rokko Liner links the Rokko Island area to JR Sumiyoshi station.

Kobe

By bus

Kobe has a comprehensive city bus system, which is often your best choice when travelling to areas located north of the city, away from the predominately east-west running train and subway lines. Schedules and boarding locations can be obtained from the tourist information office below JR and Hankyu Sannomiya stations.

The city also operates a loop-line tourist bus that travels around scenic spots and famous tourist locations in Kobe including the Kitano Ijinkan streets, Nankin-machi and Meriken Park. These distinctive old-fashioned green buses can be boarded are 15 stops between the Shin-Kobe area and Harborland and cost 250 yen for a single loop or 650 yen for a day pass. Boarding locations are indicated by green and red signs on the side of the road. Buses run at 15-20 minute intervals and one loop takes approximately 70 minutes.

Kobe

On foot

K?be is thin in the north-south direction, but long in the west-east direction. Since much of it is built on a hill, a reasonable itinerary is to take the bus up the hill, and walk down.If you get lost, find the mountains or the harbour. The mountains are on the north, and the harbour?s on the south.

Kobe

See

German house, IjinkanGerman house, Ijinkan
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German house, Ijinkan
  • Ijinkan (???) (walking distance from either Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe stations) K?be's number-one attraction is the Ijinkan or Barbarian Houses. These are 19th-century residences of Kobe's foreign traders, clustered in the Kitano area. Europeans who grew up in similar scenery may find them less fascinating.
  • Meriken Park (???????) near the harborfront has a poignant memorial to the devastating Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, which killed 6,433 people. Kobe Tower nearby is the unofficial symbol of the city and offers a viewing pavilion (¥600).
  • Harbor Land (adjacent to Kobe station). This is a modern shopping and dining area, developed on the edge of the Kobe Bay.
  • MOSAIC is the Kobe?s playground. There are restaurants, bars, a movie theatre, shopping market, an amusement arcade, and you can do the cruising.

K?be is a well-known center of sake production and many sake breweries are in the Nada (?) area, and have tours or museums open to the public. You can pick up a map of the sake breweries at the tourist information office in Sannomiya.

  • Sawa-no-Tsuru Museum (??????) (10-minute walk from Hanshin ?ishi station ???). 078-882-7788. Open daily 10 AM to 4 PM, closed Weds. This museum is probably the best of the bunch, with an informative multi-level exhibit partly labeled in English, and a well-stocked gift shop. Free entry, but no free sake.
  • Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum (walking distance from Hankyu Mikage station ??? or Sumiyoshi station ???), 078-822-8907. Open daily 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, closed Mon. This museum is located inside a former brewery, and features traditional tools, dioramas and English-language videos to explain the sake-making processes. At the end, you can sample some sake, which is non-pasteurized, presumably because it doesn't have to travel far from the factory. Write your name on a piece of paper provided by the guard and return that at the end. Free entry, free sake.
  • Hamafukutsuru-Ginjo Brewery and Shop Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM, closed Mon. 078-411-0492. Reportedly, Hamafukutsuru offers factory tours, rather than just a museum.
Kobe

Do

Osaka Bay at nightOsaka Bay at night
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Osaka Bay at night
  • Mt. Rokko (??? Rokko-san) and its Rock Garden, the first an easy cable car trip for suitable romantic evenings, the second a light day's hiking with an excellent view. The view over the glittering expanse of Osaka Bay is canonized as one of the Three Great Night Views.
Kobe

Buy

K?be's shopping is clustered around the Sannomiya train station and the Center-Gai shopping arcade leading off from it. Many of the unassuming little cafes and specialty shops in the arcade in fact have histories tracing back well over a hundred years.

Piazza K?be (?????) and Motok? Town (???????) are the two names of essentially one long arcade where all manner of second-hand goods are sold. These stores are underneath the JR lines, running from Sannomiya station, past Motomachi Station, to K?be Station. Motoko sells a variety of things as books, clothes, shoes, accessories, knives, lighters, toys...... You can get heaps of things.

Kobe

Eat

Kobe has a large number of restaurants offering international cuisine.

K?be is known worldwide for its Kobe beef, exquisitely marbled, very fatty and very expensive beef. Recommended for a splurge, but expect to pay close to ¥10,000 per head.

Nankinmachi (walking distance from Sannomiya station). Cheap eats can be found in K?be's Chinatown.

  • Sky Buffet, 1 (http://www.buffet.jp/sky/index.html). It?s a little bit hard to find (several blocks south of Sannomiya Station, but it?s the tallest building one street over on your left), but at 24 floors up, the view is quite impressive especially at night and definitely worth the troubles of finding it. The food?s a reasonably good mix of cultures and well priced.

There are many types of restaurants in Mosaic. Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian, Italian. It's your choice. Also, you can get a nice view there.

Kobe

Drink

K?be's specialty are tachinomiya, literally stand-and-drink bars.

  • Sone is not only an excellent place to relax with a drink, it also happens to be one of the best jazz clubs in Kansai. It's in Kitano just north of Sannomiya station.
Kobe

Sleep

K?be has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from love hotels near Shin-Kobe to luxury hotels by the waterfront.

  • Kobe Harborland New Otani, 1-3-5 Higashi-kawasaki-cho, Chuo-ku, tel. 078-360-1111, 2 (http://hrt.newotani.co.jp/kobe/index-e.htm). A member of the prestigious New Otani chain. While not quite swanky as its Tokyo flagship, the location near JR K?be station is good and internet rates can be had for around ¥10,000 a night (plus taxes).
Kobe

Get out

  • Arima OnsenArima Onsen, a hot-spring town located at the terminus of the Mt. Rokko cable car
  • Himeji, a nice city with Japan's most beautiful well-preserved castle, is a 20 minute train ride away.
  • Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge leading to Awaji island is 10 km far to the West. (10 minutes by train.)
Kobe

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