Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kobe : An Introduction

Kobe, Japan's 6th largest city and the capital of Hyogo prefecture, is also one of Japan's most attractive cities. 
The city is a popular travel destination among locals and also attracts considerable overseas tourists. The city has a charm to it, different from most other Japanese cities. The look of the city's central district gives visitors the feel of visiting some European country. The city is nestled between the Rokko mountain range and the Osaka Bay.
Being a port city, Kobe had trade relations with China and Korea since the 8th century till any sort of relations with the world  were banned by the Tokugawa shogunate in early 17th century with the adoption of the policy of seclusion. In 1853, when Japan opened up to foreign trade, Kobe's port was one of the first few ports to be opened up to the world.(The other ports to be opened up for trade were Yokohama, Nagasaki, Hakodate and Niigata). Till this day, Kobe's port remains the 4th busiest container port in  Japan.

In the past, Kobe has seen some tough times.During World War II, Kobe was also the target of two air raids which caused considerable destruction.At 5:46 am on 17th January 1995, Kobe was struck by the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The epicenter of the earthquake was beneath the Akashi Strait near Kobe and the earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and lasted about 20 seconds but it reduced entire neighbourhoods and killed thousands. Visitors to the city today, can hardly see any reminders of the damage. Kobe is another example of Japan's resilience. 

The city today is very cosmopolitan thanks to its large expatriate population predominantly of Chinese, Korean, European, American and Indian origin. The city also has international schools and other facilities to cater to the needs of the expatriate community. The city's Kitano district and areas close to the Sannomiya station are popular residential areas for the expatriate community. Japan's first mosque, first gurudwara, a synagogue, Jain temple all cater to the expat community. 
Kobe Mosque
Jain Temple 
Many Japanese corporations have headquarters in Kobe while many MNCs have their Japanese headquarters in Kobe.

The central business district, the shopping and nightlife districts and most tourist attractions are all located within walking distance from each other. 
The shopping avenues are also centered around the Sannomiya and Motomachi stations. 

Most of them are located close to the Sannomiya Station.
The city also has an excellent subway system and rail connectivity. For tourists, the City loop bus which operates at regular frequency and passes by most of the city's main attractions, is a good option.
 A single ride costs about 250 yen for adults and 130 yen for children, while a day pass costing 650 yen for adults and 330 yen for children is also available. 
The bus covers the entire route in about 63 minutes is the most convenient way to check out the city's various sights.

Located about 30 kms west of Osaka, Kobe is well connected by almost all means of transportation- air, rail, road and sea. 

I visited Kobe with my daughter during her school's week-long spring break in March. We rode the morning Highway Bus from Nagoya station to Kobe's Sannomiya Bus Station. The journey takes about 3 hours and has limited stops between Nagoya and Kobe. The bus service is operated jointly by JR Tokai and Meitetsu Bus companies. Buses leave from the Meitetsu Bus Terminal near Meitetsu Nagoya station and then make a brief stop at the Nagoya Bus Station, near the Shinkansen entrance of Nagoya Station.We visited the city to meet a friend who now lives there and had invited us over for a couple of days. We had a great time exploring the city together. My friend's home was in a convenient location and we could walk over to most places in less than 20 minutes. We did ride the City Loop Bus to have a panoramic view of the city. 

More details about the city's attractions will follow in separate posts shortly.  

1 comment:

  1. Visited the Jain Temple