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The cosmopolitan and historic port of Kobe is rightly famed for the quality of its beef, but it's also a great place to sample Chinese cuisine in its lively Chinatown (Nankin-machi). The city is tucked against Rokko-san, a mountain you can easily summit by taking a cable car (known as the Shin-Kobe Ropeway) to Nunobiki Herb Park which provides lovely views along with the fragrant blooms. Lower down the hillside is the picturesque area of Kitano, where many of the ijinkan (foreigner’s houses) dating back to the late 19th century had to be reconstructed after the 1995 earthquake hit the city. There are several memorials in Kobe to that event, ...

The cosmopolitan and historic port of Kobe is rightly famed for the quality of its beef, but it's also a great place to sample Chinese cuisine in its lively Chinatown (Nankin-machi). The city is tucked against Rokko-san, a mountain you can easily summit by taking a cable car (known as the Shin-Kobe Ropeway) to Nunobiki Herb Park which provides lovely views along with the fragrant blooms. Lower down the hillside is the picturesque area of Kitano, where many of the ijinkan (foreigner’s houses) dating back to the late 19th century had to be reconstructed after the 1995 earthquake hit the city. There are several memorials in Kobe to that event, including a giant robot statue Tetsujin 28 that is well worth seeing. Another highlight is the Fashion Museum on Rokko Island. Heading out of town, Arima Onsen is an easy day trip as is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world. Farther south along the coast, but easily within day trip reach of Kobe, is Himeji, home to Japan's best castle; spend a day exploring its ramparts, turrets and six-story keep rising high above the city, and the traditional gardens at the base.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Kobe and Himeji are good cities to visit year round, although spring and autumn will provide the best weather and temperatures.