I love Kobe. It’s a small, cosmopolitan port city situated between the mountains and the sea. It’s got style, excitement and proximity to some amazing hiking trails. Not to mention the international cuisine options seem to be limitless in this tiny city. There’s also a saying in Japanese: “If you can’t visit Paris, go to Kobe”. It’s small enough to traverse on foot, yet convenient enough to access other major points of attraction, such as the lovely beaches surrounding Kansai, or the labyrinth of shrines and temples in Kyoto.
I live up the hill from Sannomiya station in a neighborhood called Kitano. Wandering through the steep and winding white-brick alleyways, you’ll find a curious mix of old European houses and traditional Japanese structures.
At one point Kobe was the largest point of access to the rest of the world. Flourishing international trade made way for the first major foreign settlements in Japan. Foreign ambassadors and merchant families brought to Kobe an impressive variety of stunning art and architecture, many of which have managed to survive the Second World War and a devastating earthquake in 1995 to this day.
Hidden in a forest behind the German Weathercock house is a steep flight of steps leading up to Tenmangu Shrine.
Though these European-style streets seem to serve more as a tourist destination than an actual foreign settlement, there’s never been a day when my mood wasn’t lifted upon entering this pretty little neighborhood, even after a stressful day of teaching.
Even though it can get absurdly crowded on the weekends, I can’t complain about living in such a pristine and happy place. While I’d never in my life pay money to look inside a European home museum (not at the rates they charge anyway), I recommend visitors to experience the spectacular view of the city from this international hilltop.
I’m in the process of putting together a post about all of my favorite neighborhoods in this city. So tell me, what’s most important for you in choosing a place to live? Until next time, マタン!