Cruising to Kobe, Japan

Sip sake, visit a volcano, and find serenity amid gardens and shrines

Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum offers a cool look at crafting traditional sake in Kobe, Japan.
Japan’s fifth largest city, Kobe, is also considered one of its most attractive. A great port for casual exploration, highlights of Kobe run the gamut from serene Japanese gardens to charming neighborhoods and an ancient volcano.

City Wandering
Be sure to spend time exploring the neighborhood of Kitano, which is well known for its Gothic Victorian stone houses, called Ijinkan. South of the area, travelers can visit the Ikuta Shrine that stands along the coast. Head into the city center to visit Sorakuen, a traditional Japanese landscape garden that is a beautiful and peaceful enclave. The Nada district is worth visiting for a glimpse of its sake (rice wine) production – visitors can enjoy tastings, exhibitions, and even some museums at various local breweries. And, from Shin-Kobe Station, take a walk along the path that leads to the beautiful Nunobiki Falls, a surprising city retreat.

Further Afield
About an hour away, Arima Onsen is a hot spring made popular by an ancient emperor. The city of Himeji is also not too far from Kobe, and is home to a UNESCO-designated feudal Japanese castle. The ancient volcano of Mount Rokko, about an hour from Kobe, is yet another sight worth making a trip to see.

Local Cuisine
Don’t miss your chance to try Kobe beef, known for its high quality taste and tenderness – Wakkoqu is an elegant steakhouse that serves it. Other delicious dishes to taste include bokkake, a Japanese stew, and sobameshi, fried rice mixed with noodles. Mikami and Ichiya Ichiya are good restaurants for tasting traditional dishes. Other noteworthy eateries include Misono, the birthplace of teppanyaki-style cuisine, and Momotarou, renowned for its yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers.

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