23 Most Amazing Places To Visit In Kobe, Japan

places to visit in kobe
Chantel
Chantel 
Updated

The sixth-largest city in Japan, Kobe is a well-known metropolitan that shows all the makings of a typical city. Despite that, it still offers spectacular views thanks to its mountainous backdrop. With all the entertainment options this place has to offer, one will never get bored - from museum hopping and learning about its rich history to savouring local food, Kobe has earned its spot in the bucket list of many travellers. Some iconic things to do here include trying the famous marbled beef, visiting one of the oldest shrines, Ikuta Shrine, and taking a vintage cable car. What are you waiting for? Kobe ought to be your next travel destination! Check out this list of the most amazing places to visit in Kobe.

1. Suma Aqualife Park Kobe

Suma Aqualife Park Kobe
Source: 万葉 りえ

If the vast sea and the majestic creatures who call it home fascinate you, head down to Suma Aqualife Park while you’re in Kobe! A crossover between a theme park and an aquarium, this place offers an assortment of entertainment, from watching dolphins put on a show at the amphitheatre to observing adorable otters being fed. In fact, the park consists of an underwater tunnel, so get ready to feast your eyes on humongous sharks and 3-metre-long (9.8-foot) arapaimas. One can touch turtles at a small pool you can put your hand into and even see stingrays and small sharks - it will certainly be fun for the kids. The amusement park section will keep the children’s energy high as they indulge in merry-go-round rides.

2. Sōraku-en Garden

Soraku Wazuka Kanseonbosatsu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mti used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A convenient, fifteen-minute walk from Motomachi and Kento-mae station, enjoy the tranquillity of Sōraku-en Garden, a uniquely Japanese-style attraction complete with stone bridges, stepping stones, streams, and even a man-made waterfall around a central pond. The garden was once home to buildings that were destroyed in the war, so it’s a site that reflects a part of Japan’s past. Many describe the architecture in Sōraku-en Garden to be a seamless amalgamation of both Japanese and Western architecture, making for a one-in-a-kind cultural fusion. Throughout the seasons, the trees change colour accordingly, so it becomes the perfect spot for aesthetic, Instagram-worthy pictures.

3. Kobe Maritime Museum

Kobe Maritime Museum
Source: 万葉 りえ

Opened back in 1868, Port of Kobe has certainly developed much over the years, and with the advancement in technology, it is expected to continue developing. Established to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the port’s opening, Kobe Maritime Museum aims to bring visitors back into the past by exhibiting ship records and diorama models to show locals and tourists what the port used to be like, and to help visitors understand its present operations. The museum even has a section that will give guests an idea of the site’s future by using videos and graphics to project what the port is expected to look like and how it is supposed to progress.

4. Kobe Harbourland

Kobe Harborland
Source: 大里 康正

Kobe Harbourland is a popular tourist attraction, as it is a lively shopping and entertainment area near Port of Kobe. Umie is the shopping complex where foreigners like to go, and it is divided into three sections: Mosaic, North Mall and South Mall. Mosaic offers many eateries and overlooks a great view of the water and the Ferris wheel. The other two malls are for serious shoppers, hosting international and Japanese brands. While here, you can also check out a museum that features Anpanman, one of Japan’s most favourite characters.

5. Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum

Interested in the brewing process and wish to taste some sake? Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum makes for an educational visit, as there are informative displays in English and Japanese, which are made to enlighten visitors on sake production both in the modern times and during the olden days. Visitors are able to gain some insight into this industry while watching the workers in the breweries make the sake.

Kobe Walking Tour from Kyoto with Sake Tasting at Hakutsuru

Duration: 9 hours

1 review

6. Mount Rokkō

Mount Rokkō
Source: LUI

If you wish to be at the top of the world and look down on a spectacular view of Osaka Bay, Mount Rokkō is the place to go. Standing at a grand total of 931 metres (3,054 feet), this is considered the highest peak in the Rokkō’s mountain range. Fret not - you do not have to scale the whole mountain on foot. You can easily access the open-air cable cars that will easily take you to the summit. An observation deck is situated at the cable car station, allowing one to catch a full glimpse of Kobe’s cityscape. Moreover, Mount Rokkō itself features a botanical garden, museum, and an area filled with flowers, making it attractive for tourists.

7. Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine

Ikuta Shrine is recorded to be one of the oldest shrines in the country, and people come here to say their prayers to Wakahirume, who is said to be the goddess of building connections. This shrine is highly regarded by the citizens of Kobe, as they also feel like it is a symbol of resurrection since it guided the city through tumultuous times, particularly when natural disaster struck. An example would be when the shrine withstood damage from the Great Hanshin earthquake.

8. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is famed for being the world’s longest suspension bridge, with a length of about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles). At the foot of the Kobe’s side is Akashi Kaikyo Bridge Exhibition Center, which provides information on how the bridge was constructed - from planning to construction. In addition, there is also Maiko Marine Promenade, which is comprised of exhibition hallways under the bridge’s platform. It gives visitors a spectacular view from the bridge, and you will be able to see both Akashi Strait and Osaka Bay.

9. Shin-Kobe Ropeway

121208 Kobe-Nunobiki ropeway Kobe Hyogo pref Japan05s3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

A five-minute walk from the station, Shin-Kobe Ropeway is among the three aerial transport services that lets visitors ascend Mount Rokkō, and it also links Shin-Kobe with the hiking trails and the renowned Nunobiki Gardens. The ride on Shin-Kobe Ropeway offers a scenic view of Kobe City and Nunobiki Waterfall. Some other prominent areas to look out for include Seto Inland Sea and even as far as the western part of Osaka. Do drop by the gardens at the last station to witness some beautiful flowers like hibiscus and bougainvillaea.

10. Kawasaki Good Times World

1982 Kawasaki KR500 KGTW
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rainmaker47 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A museum focused solely on retracing the history of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group, Kawasaki Good Times World is bound to entice those who love vehicles and are interested in all things mechanical. It features a wide display of Japanese motorcycles. Plus, a motorcycle simulation called RIDEx is a hot favourite amongst visitors, as they get to experience a virtual reality circuit race. Guests are also allowed to drive a mini-train via a simulated control panel and experience the ride from the perspective of a train travelling through the city.

11. Kobe City Museum

Kobe City Museum of Literature01p3200
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 663highland used under CC BY 2.5

Established in 1982, Kobe City Museum merges the previous Kobe Archaeological Museum and Namban Art Museum. Featuring the history of Japan, this museum has a collection of maps for the country’s different regions and eras, and it also accounts for Japan’s trades with foreign countries. In addition, it has one of the world’s largest collections of Nanban-style art, which is also known as “Southern barbarian art” - a style that developed when Japan came under the influence of Western traders.

12. Nankin-machi

Nankin-machi
Source: 下川 尚子

Otherwise known as Kobe’s very own “Chinatown”, Nankin-machi is home to a variety of Chinese businesses ranging from restaurants and mahjong clubs to gift shops. Nankin-machi is a largely Chinese-themed street where people set up their roadside stalls. The Chinese decor revolves around the usual calligraphy paintings and red lanterns, cultivating a sense of familiarity for Chinese visitors in Japan who wish to roam the streets of Nankin-machi. For those who want to experience this area at the peak of festival season, head down here during the Lunar New Year to see the streets bursting with red lights, lion dances, firecrackers and street performers who come to usher in the Lunar New Year.

13. Meriken Park

Flickr - yeowatzup - Meriken Park, Kobe, Japan
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kok Leng Yeo used under CC BY 2.0

Meriken Park is a place near Kobe’s port area. This park is actually built on reclaimed land and was developed into the beautiful park you see today, complete with modern designs and impressive infrastructure. The place was devastated by the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 but it has regained its popularity due to the city’s efforts to recover the site and turn it into an even more beautiful version of the previous park. They did, however, leave a small portion of the rubble untouched so visitors can see the result of the earthquake’s destruction.

14. The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution
Source: SHIZUKO

On the 17th of January 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake - with a magnitude 6.9 - struck Kobe and left such devastation in its wake that the city was on the brink of collapse. Here at the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution, you will be able to get more facts about the quake, remember those who perished, and also learn how to mitigate the impact of future earthquakes through an immersive course.

15. Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art

Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art

As part of the city’s recovery efforts after the Great Hanshin earthquake, this museum was built. It is the largest of its kind in Western Japan, featuring an impressive exterior and elegant interior. In addition, the museum has a permanent exhibition of paintings, prints, sculptures and other works of art that were created by both foreigners and Japanese artists. It is definitely worth a visit.

16. Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum
Source: 潮 佳澄

Stationed at the foot of Mount Rokkō is Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, where visitors can gain some insight into Japanese carpentry and the tools behind the craft. Upon entering the museum, the stunning and symmetrical wood interior greets visitors and introduces a sense of harmony. Further down the museum are a total of seven exhibitions detailing the history of Japanese craftsmanship and the men behind the work. The exhibition features sliding doors with intricate Japanese patterns, wooden structures, and the various tools used to craft these pieces and structures. Visitors can even partake in a workshop at the basement level. This is great for those who are interested in woodwork.

17. Kobe Ōji Zoo

Kobe Ōji Zoo
Source: 下川 尚子

This is just the right place for animal lovers, as it is home to a wide range of animals. From elegant giraffes towering over the zoo to giant pandas chewing on bamboo, the animals here are sure to capture your heart! There are also some slightly more ferocious but majestic animals, like five different species of big cats such as tigers, leopards and lions. Not to forget the smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, ones that people are allowed to approach and pet. There even goats and geese on-site but they are not allowed to run free around guests.

18. Kobe Fruit Flower Park

grape
Source: Photo by user harum.koh used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Kobe Fruit Flower Park is an all-in-one package as it provides guests accommodation, food, activities, and also allows you to head inside to pick some fresh fruits! Be ready for loads of fun, as the park has a whole amusement area prepared for guests. You can enjoy fun activities such as go-kart racing, and there are even theatres where they put on spectacular shows for the audience. Last but certainly not least, the most anticipated activity here is fruit picking. Be sure to take home some fresh grapes, peaches, and pears.

19. Rokko Music Box Museum

Rokko Music Box Museum

If you’re a lover of music boxes and you are easily enthralled by musical demonstrations, then Rokko Music Box Museum is a must-visit for you. Using musical instruments, a special performance commences every half-hour to delight audiences. The performances here are one-of-a-kind, as they tend to be performed using Western instruments from the early 19th and 20th centuries. The museum features a vast variety of mechanically programmed music machines, even extending outside of music boxes to organs, accordions and keyboards. The exhibits come with information so guests can learn something. If you wish to take the sound of music home with you, the gift shop offers mini music boxes and other musical gadgets.

20. Nunobiki Herb Garden

Nunobiki Herb Garden
Source: 潮 佳澄

Nunobiki Herb Garden sits alongside the hill of the mountain and can be reached either by hiking or by taking the cable car. Offering a picturesque view, this wonderful garden showcases themed areas and a harmony of different colours that are presented through the beautiful herbs and flowers in full bloom. There is also a small museum available that will educate visitors on how these herbs and flowers can be converted into scents that they can use to make their houses or cars smell nice. In addition, there are eateries, shops, and also hammocks all around so that people can fully enjoy their time here.

21. Rokkosan Pasture

Rokkosan pasture
Source: Photo by user cotaro70s used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Calling all nature lovers! Rokkosan Pasture is a place where you can just immerse yourself in nature, as not only is there a lot of greenery, but also because it is home to barn animals such as sheep, cows, donkeys, ponies, and goats. Besides being able to come into close contact with these docile animals, there is also a cheese house where you will be able to see how Kobe Cheese, the city’s famous version of the camembert cheese, is manufactured. On top of that, there are a variety of activities you can enjoy here, including wool craft and making ice cream, butter, cheese, soft caramel, and even sausages.

22. Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park No,3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mti used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park preserves the destruction of the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 in its most raw form, with the debris and the damage made to the infrastructure kept intact. The panels situated around the site shows exactly what happened to the site during the 6.9-magnitude earthquake. It also features the recovery process, all in the name of disaster prevention. A gut-wrenching documentary is played with raw, uncensored footage of the earthquake, and some would even describe their experience at the park to be devastating after seeing up close what nature is capable of.

23. Kobe Port Tower

Kobe Port Tower
Source: 下川 尚子

Being regarded by many as a national symbol of the city, Kobe Port Tower is an infrastructure that stands at a height of 108 metres (354 feet) tall and was built by using a complex web of pipes. With five floors overlooking the city of Kobe, this tower provides a complete and panoramic view of the city, and you will be able to see it almost from a bird’s-eye view. When the night falls, the 7,040 LED lights on the tower will light up, and this is definitely a spectacle you need to see.

Kobe - a devastated city brought back to life

When you visit, you will realise that Kobe is a flourishing city that has never forgotten its past. Though it is now a popular destination and a bustling metropolis, it still commemorates and remembers the devastation brought by the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995. So, head over to Kobe and dive into its past while also enjoying everything else this city has to offer, from food to attractions.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Explorer by day, writer by night. In my waking hours I roam both the city streets and the rural areas in search of new thrills, every nook and cranny of this world a wonder waiting to be...Read more

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