5 February 2015

Kobe - the city that arose from the ashes

Kobe Harbour area
Kobe lies south-west of Osaka along the Southern coastline and is among one of Japan's ten largest cities. It is a city that has risen from the ashes, having been hit by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Five thousand people were killed and thousands of buildings destroyed. It is hard to believe that now as you walk the streets because it is once again a thriving and beautiful port city. Different in feel to Hiroshima, Kobe is a city that seems to sweep down from the nearby mountains and onto the seafront. When you survey the high rise buildings and tightly packed houses, you marvel at just how they managed to rebuild the city. For this post the main emphasis and recommendations will feature the harbour area, as this was where we explored. I'm sure there are many other wonderful places in and around Kobe but that is for another day. 

When you arrive at the port area you are greeted with modern buildings and open spaces with views across the harbour and out into the open waters. Here is where you'll find Harborland, with its Ferris wheel, restaurants and Meriken Park with Kobe Tower and the maritime museum. You can happily spend a day in this area, and when the sun is shining there may be no better place to chill out, away from more typically chaotic city centre? Kobe Tower (around 700 yen) is the most prominent feature and from the top the views out across to Osaka (to the left as you look toward the sea) and Kobe to right, give you a great perspective of this developed landscape. Across from the tower and park lies the shopping and restaurant area, appropriately named Harborland. Here there are small boutiques and restaurants as well as a museum for the extremely popular cartoon character Anpanman. Again its easy to spend a good amount of time there, especially in the museum if you have young children (more on that next week). So here are my five things to do in a day:

Kobe Tower

* Kobe Tower - for around a 1000 yen you can also visit the maritime museum 
* Marine Museum
* Visit the shops, restaurants and cafes of Harborland
* For children: A visit to Anpanman Museum
* Chill out in Meriken Park

Away from the harbour, if you have some time to spare before catching your Shinkansen then why not take a hike up the Rokko mountain chain. Signs from the Shin-Kobe station lead you to the hiking trails and if you are of the energetic type, after a short climb you won't be disappointed with the views (see below) as Kobe appears before you. If you are prepared to spend a bit of time you can reach the Nunobiki waterfall. There is a cable car that takes you to an observation point high in the mountain,so if you have time then its certainly an option worth considering. Either way you will not be disappointed and is a great way to stretch those legs and get a different perspective of this wonderful city. So there is a snapshot of Kobe. Its a pleasant city with enough to keep any traveler occupied for a day or two and should be on any adventurers list of places to visit whilst in Japan. If you have been let me know what you think of this reborn city.

Next week we look at the Anpanman attraction, the perfect place for those of a younger age. 


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