Kobe (神戸) is a stylish city not far from Kyoto and Osaka, that is known as one of the first ports in Japan to open up to foreigners.  It therefore has lots of unique architecture for a Japanese city, making for an interesting, cheap trip.  For budget travelers Kobe can all be done in a one day trip.

Top tips

  • You can do Chinatown and Merikan Park together all on foot.

Places of interest

Kitano Foreigners Town

This was the area where foreigners were first allowed to stay when Kobe opened to them.  Have a stroll around and you will see lots of nice European-style architecture.  Entrance to buildings costs a bit, but you only need to go in if you have a strong interest in it.

Kitano Tenman Jinja Shrine (FREE)

Go up to the top of this for a nice view over the city. Price: Free Open: All day


A very tourist friendly Chinatown, which is great for a nice walk-around.  Best to eat dinner elsewhere though, to avoid the tourist prices.

Meriken Park (FREE)

Full of all sorts of strange sculptures, architecture and some cool powerboats on display. Price: Free Open: All day

How to get there

With the Japan Rail Pass

From Kyoto station, take the Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Shin-Kobe station (28 mins).

From Osaka station, take the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (22 mins).

From Tokyo station, take the Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Shin-Kobe station (about 3 hours).

Without the Japan Rail Pass

From Kyoto station, take the JR Special Rapid to Osaka station, then the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (58 mins, 105o yen).

From Osaka station, take the JR Special Rapid to Sannomiya station (22 mins, 390 yen).

From Tokyo, get an overnight bus with Willer Express (click link at the top for English) or use the Japan Bus Pass.


Recommended Hostels and Cheap Hotels

Yume Nomad

A cool guesthouse with nice communal areas to meet people and get some good travel advice.

Compare prices at Booking.com

Get more with my new budget travel book!

Perfect for backpackers, budget travelers, families on a tight budget, students and those who are new to Japan.

More info


Hyogo Tourism Guide 

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict

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