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Kobe Sights and Landmarks Guide, Japan

One of Japan’s largest cities, and probably the most important port in the country, Kobe has been a gateway for Western Civilization almost since its founding in 1889. The city was among the first to be opened for foreign trade, which accounts for its international flavour: European style buildings, a Chinatown and even Jewish synagogues come together with traditional Japanese elements to form a fascinating city. Kobe is located in the Kansai region, along with other popular tourist destinations such as Osaka and Kyoto. Kobe is the favourite city of western expatriates, so it’s no wonder that millions of western tourists crowd to enjoy Kobe’s attractions every year. This Kobe Sights Guide will briefly present the most important landmarks of this exciting city.

Kobe Sights - Museums and Memorials

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is a work of art in itself. Designed by famous architect Ando Tadao, this majestic modern building hosts a remarkable permanent display of works by Japanese artists, as well as several pieces of Western art, in addition to regularly hosting international exhibitions. Given its status of major port city, it’s only natural for Kobe to have a maritime museum. This truly impressive building is one of Kobe’s hallmarks. The museum features numerous ship models from all over the world. The building also hosts the Kawasaki Good Times World, a display dedicated to Japan’s foremost vehicle manufacturing company, who created the Japanese bullet train, the shinkansen. The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial was built in honour of the victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake that killed over 6000 people in 1995. The memorial shows documentary footage and films about the earthquake, explaining to visitors the effects of the disaster. Kobe is renowned for its quality sake, so this Kobe Sights Guide recommends that you visit the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery for an introduction on sake-brewing techniques, and also a free sake tasting.

Kobe Sights - The Outdoors

Kobe’s many foreign districts are excellent places for a walk. Visit the Chinatown for some interesting bits of architecture and some excellent street restaurants that offer a unique version of traditional Chinese cuisine. The western-style neighbourhood of Kyu-kyoryuchi, the site of many foreign consulates have been built in the past is also worth a visit, although the 19th century buildings might not impress western tourists as much as they impress Japanese visitors. Meriken Park, near the harbour is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, and it has a small section that was preserved in its post-earthquake state in memory of the victims. Kobe Tower, another symbol of the city offers a great birds-eye view of Kobe, and overlooks the harbour. There is a walkway that connects the tower to Kobe’s outdoor mall, Mosaic, a collection of colourful shops, restaurants and cinemas. Here you can go on a harbour cruise, a wonderful experience, especially at night when you can admire the beautifully lit city skyline.

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