48 Hours in Kobe, Japan: 10 Cool Things To Absolutely Do

Exploring the Sannomiya District

When visiting Kobe, Japan, the Sannomiya District should be your first stop. This bustling area is the city’s main commercial and entertainment hub, filled with an array of shops, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Start your exploration at the iconic Sannomiya Station, a major transportation hub in the city, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.

One of the coolest things to do in Sannomiya is to discover the hidden backstreets filled with quirky boutiques, vintage stores, and trendy cafes. This area is a paradise for shopaholics and fashion enthusiasts, as it offers a unique blend of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and modern fashion trends. Make sure to visit Terminal 21, a shopping complex known for its stylish selection of local and international brands. Don’t forget to explore the Motomachi Shopping Street, a charming and picturesque arcade where you can find everything from stylish clothing to delectable street food.

Indulge in Kobe’s Famous Beef

Kobe is internationally renowned for its delicious and tender beef, which is a must-try culinary experience during your 48-hour stay. Known for its marbling and melt-in-your-mouth texture, Kobe beef is a delicacy that should not be missed. Head to a local Kobe beef restaurant, where skilled chefs will prepare the beef to perfection, highlighting its natural flavors. Some popular options include Steakland and Mouriya, beloved by locals and tourists alike.

What makes this experience even cooler is the opportunity to witness a traditional Japanese cooking style known as teppanyaki. At these restaurants, chefs cook the Kobe beef in front of your eyes on a large iron griddle, creating a theatrical and interactive experience. Indulging in this world-famous delicacy will undoubtedly be a highlight of your visit to Kobe.

Marvel at the Kobe Harborland

If you’re seeking a breathtaking view of the cityscape and the sparkling ocean, a visit to the Kobe Harborland is a must. This waterfront area offers a multitude of entertainment options and stunning city views, making it one of the coolest spots in Kobe. Begin your exploration at the iconic Kobe Port Tower, creatively designed to resemble a red steel lighthouse. Ascend to the observation deck to admire panoramic vistas, capturing the beauty of Kobe from above.

As you stroll along the waterfront promenade, you’ll encounter a wide range of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Step into Harborland Umie, a massive shopping complex offering both local and international brands. Take a leisurely walk or rent a bicycle to explore the area fully. The evening ambiance at Harborland is a sight to behold, with the city lights reflecting off the water, creating a magical atmosphere. Be sure to catch the mesmerizing nightly illumination of the Port Tower, transforming the area into a fairytale-like scene.

Immerse Yourself in History at the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens

Escape the bustling city and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens. Situated between Mount Rokko and the city center, this botanical garden offers a serene oasis filled with over 200 varieties of fragrant herbs, vibrant flowers, and stunning panoramic views.

Begin your journey by taking the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, a scenic cable car that transports you high above the city with breathtaking vistas along the way. At the gardens, you can wander through various themed herb sections, including a lavender garden, rose garden, and healing garden. Take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails, breathe in the fresh aroma of the herbs, and enjoy a peaceful picnic surrounded by nature.

What makes the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens especially cool is the Herb Museum, where you can learn about the history, benefits, and uses of various herbs. Gain insights into traditional Japanese herbal medicine and even participate in workshops to create your own herbal remedies or handmade soap. This experience offers a unique blend of nature, history, and hands-on learning.

Explore the Enchanting Arima Onsen

A trip to Kobe wouldn’t be complete without indulging in a traditional Japanese hot spring, or onsen. Just a short train ride away from the city center, Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring towns. Renowned for its healing properties and beautiful surroundings, Arima Onsen offers a rejuvenating experience unlike any other.

Upon arriving in Arima, venture through the quaint streets lined with traditional wooden ryokans and charming shops. The town boasts two types of spring waters: “gold” and “silver.” While they both offer different health benefits, the unique color of the water is what makes the experience truly special. Bathe in these therapeutic waters, known for their skin-smoothing and revitalizing qualities.

For a truly authentic experience, book a stay in one of the ryokans, where you can don traditional yukata robes and enjoy traditional multi-course Kaiseki meals. After your onsen experience, take a leisurely stroll through the town’s alleys, relax in a traditional tea house, or visit the Arima Onsen History Museum to learn more about this ancient bathing culture. Arima Onsen provides the perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, allowing you to unwind and immerse yourself fully in Japan’s rich traditions.

Visit the Kobe City Museum

To delve into the rich history and culture of the city, a visit to the Kobe City Museum is a must. Situated in the Meriken Park area, this modern museum showcases various exhibits focusing on the development of Kobe from ancient times to the present day.

The museum houses a diverse range of artifacts, artworks, and interactive displays that provide insights into Kobe’s maritime history, international trade, and traditional arts. One of the highlights is the permanent exhibition detailing the Great Earthquake of 1995, which devastated the city but also showcased its resilience and recovery.

Additionally, the museum often hosts special exhibitions, featuring both local and international artists, allowing visitors to experience a wide range of artistic expressions. Exploring the Kobe City Museum will give you a deeper understanding of the city’s culture, history, and artistic endeavors.

Take a Scenic Rokko Cable Car Ride

Ride the Rokko Cable Car to experience one of Kobe’s most scenic attractions. This cable car journey takes you up Mount Rokko, offering sensational views of the city and the surrounding natural landscape.

The cable car ride lasts approximately 10 minutes, during which you’ll witness stunning panoramas of Kobe’s cityscape, the vast ocean, and even Osaka on clear days. Once you reach the mountaintop station, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Rokko Garden Terrace, a picturesque area filled with beautiful gardens, observatories, and restaurants.

For the adventurous souls, taking the cable car up Mount Rokko during nighttime is highly recommended. The city dazzles below as the lights twinkle and create a magical atmosphere. Whether you visit during the day or night, the Rokko Cable Car ride promises a memorable experience and unparalleled views.

Discover the Unique Kitano District

The Kitano District, located at the foot of Mount Rokko, offers a glimpse into Kobe’s foreigner settlement history. This charming area is famous for its beautifully preserved Western-style houses, known as “ijinkan,” which were constructed during the Meiji era when Kobe served as an international trading port.

Many of these ijinkan have been converted into museums, galleries, cafes, and shops, providing visitors with an enchanting blend of history and contemporary charm. A visit to Kitano wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Kitano Ijinkan Street, a picturesque lane lined with well-preserved houses, including the Former Thomas Glover Residence, a Scottish merchant’s house turned museum.

Roaming through the streets of Kitano feels like stepping into a different era, with the blend of classic European architecture and Japanese influences. Enjoy a cup of tea at one of the charming teahouses or shop for unique souvenirs in the boutique stores that showcase local craftsmanship.

Experience the Magic of Nankinmachi (Kobe Chinatown)

No visit to Kobe is complete without immersing yourself in the vibrancy and deliciousness of Kobe Chinatown, known as Nankinmachi. This historic district is home to a thriving Chinese community and is filled with bustling streets, colorfully adorned gates, and mouthwatering aromas.

Step into this lively enclave and be instantly transported into a different world. Explore the narrow alleyways, lined with shops selling Chinese souvenirs, traditional medicine, and mouthwatering street food. Sample delicious dim sum, steamed buns, and popular Chinese delicacies, all prepared with a unique Japanese twist.

Nankinmachi is a lively hub of cultural exchange, blending Chinese traditions with Japanese influences. Every year, the district hosts enchanting Chinese New Year celebrations, complete with dragon dances and street festivals. Visit Nankinmachi to experience the fusion of cultures and culinary treasures that make Kobe Chinatown a must-visit destination.

Enjoy a Nighttime Stroll in Meriken Park

Complete your 48-hour adventure in Kobe with a leisurely nighttime stroll through Meriken Park. Situated along the waterfront, this picturesque park offers stunning views of Kobe’s skyline, iconic landmarks, and the shimmering Port of Kobe.

The iconic Kobe Port Tower, a symbol of the city, stands majestically, illuminated against the night sky. Admire the aesthetic beauty of the Kobe Maritime Museum and its neighboring Higashi Yuenchi Park. Walking along the waterfront promenade, you’ll encounter artistic installations, sea breezes, and an inviting atmosphere.

Meriken Park is especially beautiful during sunset and at night, when the cityscape lights up and transforms into a mesmerizing sight. Capture the magical ambiance with your camera, or simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings as you reflect on your unforgettable stay in Kobe.

With only 48 hours in Kobe, these ten cool things will ensure you make the most of your visit. From exploring vibrant districts and indulging in Kobe beef to immersing yourself in culture and relaxation, this city offers an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on a whirlwind adventure in the charming and captivating city of Kobe!