What You Need To Know
Kobe is the sixth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture. It is located on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, on the north shore of Osaka Bay and about 30 km (19 mi) west of Osaka. With a population around 1.5 million, the city is part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kyoto.
The earliest written records regarding the region come from the Nihon Shoki, which describes the founding of the Ikuta Shrine by Empress Jingū in AD 201. For most of its history, the area was never a single political entity, even during the Tokugawa Period, when the port was controlled directly by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kobe did not exist in its current form until its founding in 1889. Its name comes from “kanbe” an archaic title for supporters of the city’s Ikuta Shrine. Kobe became one of Japan’s 17 designated cities in 1956.
Kobe was one of the cities to open for trade with the West following the 1853 end of the policy of seclusion and has since been known as a cosmopolitan port city. While the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake diminished much of Kobe’s prominence as a port city, it remains Japan’s fourth busiest container port. Companies headquartered in Kobe include ASICS, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Kobe Steel, as well as over 100 international corporations with Asian or Japanese headquarters in the city such as Eli Lilly and Company, Procter & Gamble, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Nestlé. 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.
Population: 1.544 million (2010)
Area: 213.2 mi²
The Japanese currency is the yen (円, en). One yen corresponds to 100 sen. However, sen are usually not used in everyday life anymore, except in stock market prices. Bills come in 1,000 yen, 2,000 yen (very rare), 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen denominations. Coins come in 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen denominations. Counterfeit money is not an issue in Japan.
Japan has a reputation of being a cash-based society, but trends have gradually been changing, and there has been a significant increase in the acceptance of other payment methods.
In Japan, currency exchange is usually handled by banks, post offices, some larger hotels and a handful of licensed money changers found especially at international airports.
Kobe has a humid subtropical climate that is mild with no dry season, constantly moist (year-round rainfall). Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Winters are mild with precipitation from mid-latitude cyclones. Seasonality is moderate. (Köppen-Geiger classification: Cfa).
The average annual temperature is 15.6 degrees Celsius (60.1 degrees Fahrenheit). Average monthly temperatures vary by 22.6 °C (40.7°F). This indicates that the continentality type is continental, subtype subcontinental. In the winter time records indicate temperatures by day reach 9.5°C (49.1°F) on average falling to 2.3°C (36.2°F) overnight. In spring time temperatures climb reaching 17.9°C (64.2°F) generally in the afternoon with overnight lows of 9.4°C (48.9°F).
The city of Kobe directly administers 169 elementary and 81 middle schools, with enrollments of approximately 80,200 and 36,000 students, respectively. If the city’s four private elementary schools and fourteen private middle schools are included, these figures jump to a total 82,000 elementary school students and 42,300 junior high students enrolled for the 2006 school year.
Kobe also directly controls six of the city’s twenty-five full-time public high schools including Fukiai High School and Rokkō Island High School. The remainder are administered by the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education. In addition, twenty-five high schools are run privately within the city. The total enrollment for high schools in 2006 was 43,400.
Kobe is home to eighteen public and private universities, including Kobe University, Kobe Institute of Computing and Konan University, and eight junior colleges. Students enrolled for 2006 reached 67,000 and 4,100, respectively. Kobe is also home to 17 Japanese language schools for international students, including the international training group Lexis Japan.
Kobe is most famous for its Kobe beef and Arima Onsen (hot springs). Notable buildings include the Ikuta Shrine as well as the Kobe Port Tower. It is well known for the night view of the city, from mountains such as Mount Rokkō, and Mount Maya as well as the coast. Kobe is also known for having a somewhat exotic atmosphere by Japanese standards, which is mainly as a result of its history as a port city.
The city is widely associated with cosmopolitanism and fashion, encapsulated in the Japanese phrase, “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe.” The biannual fashion event Kobe Fashion Week, centered around the Kobe Collection is held in Kobe. The jazz festival “Kobe Jazz Street” has been held every October at jazz clubs and hotels since 1981.
Kōbe has two subway lines. The Kaigan Line runs along along the coast, and the Seishin-Yamate Line runs toward the mountains. Both are more expensive than ordinary trains and unlikely to be of use for the traveler, except when connecting to Shin-Kōbe, the station located north of the city where the Sanyo Shinkansen stops. North of Shin-Kobe station, the Yamate subway runs over the Hokushin Express Line. Trains run 7.5 km under ground and terminate at Tanigami Station, from which you can transfer to the Shintetsu Arima Line for Arima-guchi Station and Arima Onsen.
The automated Port Liner links Sannomiya to the reclaimed port district south of the city, and continues over the Kobe Sky Bridge to Kobe Airport. Likewise, the Rokko Liner links the Rokko Island area to JR Sumiyoshi station.
Kobe has a comprehensive city bus system, which is often your best choice when travelling to areas located north of the city, away from the predominately east-west running train and subway lines. Schedules and boarding locations can be obtained from the tourist information office below JR and Hankyu Sannomiya stations. The city also operates a loop-line tourist bus that travels around scenic spots and famous tourist locations in Kobe including the Kitano Ijinkan streets, Nankin-machi and Meriken Park.
Kobe has several ropeways that travel up Mount Rokko. One that is near a major station is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, a 5-minute walk from Shin-Kobe station. The ropeway, reputed to have one of Kobe’s best scenic views, runs up to the Nunobiki Herb Park
Kobe is narrow in the north-south direction, but long in the west-east direction. Since much of it is built on a hill, a reasonable itinerary is to take the bus up the hill, and walk down.If you get lost, find the mountains or the harbour. The mountains are on the north, and the harbour’s on the south. . Tickets include admission to the Park.