Situated between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe city (Kōbe, 神戸市) is one of Japan’s most attractive and cosmopolitan cities. With a population around 1.5 million, it is the sixth-largest city in Japan and the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture.
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Kobe’s two main gateways are Sannomiya and Shin-Kōbe stations that provide convenient access by foot or transit to a range of excellent restaurants, cafes, and scenic and historic attractions.
Kobe city was a maritime gateway from the earliest days of trade with China and home to one of the first foreign communities after Japan reopened for trade with the West following the 1853 end of the policy of seclusion. In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which killed over 5,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible natural disaster remain.
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The lovely neighbourhoods of Kitano-chõ and Nankinmachi Chinatown are a pleasure to explore and in the evening, the nightlife districts around Sannomiya Station attract many visitors. The city is the point of origin and namesake of Kobe beef, as well as the site of one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Arima Onsen. Distances between the attractions in central Kobe are relatively close and many of them can be reached by walking. Another option is the City Loop Bus, which connects sites such as Kitano-cho, Nankinmachi, Meriken Park and Harborland with Shin-Kobe and Sannomiya Stations. The bus costs 260 yen per ride, while a day pass is available for 660 yen.
For passengers traveling to Kobe, there are two main destinations: the Sannomiya area, and Shin-Kobe Station. Of these two destinations, Sannomiya is the most convenient as it gives immediate access to Kobe’s main area of business, shopping and entertainment. Sannomiya is also very well connected because it is served by three major stations which are run by JR West, Hanshin Electric Railway, and Hankyu Railway.
The shinkansen bullet train travels between Shin-Osaka Station and Shin-Kobe Station in just 13 minutes. An unreserved ticket costs 1,500 yen and a reserved seat costs 2,890 yen. Traveling by shinkansen can be economical if you have a Japan Rail Pass. However, please be aware that two of the fastest trains on this route, the Nozomi and the Mizuho, are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass.