Kobe, Japan

Kobe is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshu. Its name comes from "kanbe", an archaic title for supporters of the city's Ikuta Shrine. With a population of about 1.5 million, the city is part of the Keihanshin (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 Jingu 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.

Kobe was one of the cities to open for trade with the West following the 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. 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. Kobe is also your gateway to Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital and the nation's cultural and spiritual center.

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Points of Interest

  • Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)
  • Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)
  • Nijo Castle
  • Kitano-cho (Kobe)
  • Mt Rokko
  • Sake Brewery Museum
  • Awajishima Island
  • Ishiyama-dera Temple

More about Kobe, Japan Points of Interest

  • Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)

    The Golden Temple is considered the premier example of Muromachi Era (1337 - 1573) design.

  • Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)

    Ryonanji famous Zen rock garden features 15 rocks set in meticulously raked white gravel.

  • Nijo Castle

    Built by Tokugawa's first shogun, the majestic 410-year-old castle is the site of two lavish palaces.

  • Kitano-cho (Kobe)

    Explore the former mansions of foreign merchants that are now preserved as museums in this city district nestled at the foot of the Rokko Mountains. The cafés and shops you will see are converted from these homes.

  • Mt Rokko

    Climb to the highest peak for panoramic views of Kobe from this 3,000-foot vantage point. A botanical garden, observation deck, aerial cable car and other outdoor activities can be enjoyed.

  • Sake Brewery Museum

    Tour an original museum, showcasing Kobe's excellence in sake production. Here, you'll learn the history and production of this rice-based liquor through life-size exhibits.

  • Awajishima Island

    At this largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, visitors marvel at the natural scenery, including the whirlpools of the Naruto Strait. The longest suspension bridge in the world links the island with Kobe.

  • Ishiyama-dera Temple

    Founded in 749 as the headquarters of one of the Shingon Buddhist sects, this magnificent temple complex is situated on a mountaintop.

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Best of Kyoto: Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle & Heian Shrine

10 hours | Kobe | U K B - 1 0 0
  • Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)
  • Nijo Castle

Spend a day visiting some of Kyoto's most iconic and beautiful attractions. A few of the highlights include Nijo Castle, built for Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu; and exterior view of the Golden Pavilion. Visit the Heian Shrine; shopping at the Kyoto Handicraft Center. A western style lunch will be served at a local hotel.

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$234.95

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Kyoto: Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple & Zen Garden

10 hours | Kobe | U K B - 1 0 5
  • Ryoanji Temple (Kyoto)

Spend the day walking among some of the most revered temples and shrines in Kyoto. Experience the reverence of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of Kyoto's oldest and celebrated shrines. Revel in the tranquil sanctuary of the Ryoanji Temple. And drink in the mystical powers of the Kiyomizu Temple.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$224.95

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Temples of Nara

8 hours | Kobe | U K B - 1 3 0

A full-day motorcoach tour showcases the best historic and breathtaking temples of Japan's first permanent capital of Nara.

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Shopping Opportunities, Strenuous Activity, Includes meal

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$194.95

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Highlights of Kyoto

8.75 hours | Kobe | U K B - 1 8 0
  • Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)
  • Nijo Castle

Take a culture trip to Kyoto for an immersive tour of some of the city's most famous landmarks. Witness the beauty of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn the intriguing history behind the Nonomiya Shrine. Enjoy lunch and shopping in the town of Gion.

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Moderate Activity

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$184.95

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Highlights of Osaka

5.5 hours | Kobe | U K B - 2 0 0

Discover two of Osaka's historical treasures. Your guided tour through the city includes a visit to Osaka Castle, Osaka's most famous landmark. Then, marvel at the architecture of the Sumiyoshi Shrine, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.

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Moderate Activity

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$134.95

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大阪城と住吉大社(日本語ガイド付き)(Guided in Japanese)

5.5 hours | Kobe | U K B - 2 0 4

Discover two of Osaka's historical treasures. Your guided tour through the city includes a visit to Osaka Castle, Osaka's most famous landmark. Then, marvel at the architecture of the Sumiyoshi Shrine, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.

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Moderate Activity

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$134.95

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Kobe, Sake Brewery Museum & Mt Rokko

4 hours | Kobe | U K B - 2 0 5
  • Mt Rokko
  • Sake Brewery Museum

Kobe has been renowned for its delicious sake for centuries. Visit a sake brewery museum, peruse life-size exhibits depicting the brewing process, and discover the secrets of sake making before sampling Japan's famous rice wine. Then, continue to the top of scenic Mt. Rokko to photograph the spectacular views.

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Moderate Activity

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$94.95

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有馬温泉と六甲山ロープウェイ(日本語ガイド付き)(Guided in Japanese)

5 hours | Kobe | U K B - 2 6 4
  • Mt Rokko

Kobe's surrounding scenery is breathtaking and serene, and you'll experience both on this refreshing outdoor adventure. Thrill to the panoramic views from the observation deck atop Mt Rokko's 3,000-foot peak, then visit the resort town of Arima for a soak in a traditional Japanese hot spring.

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Moderate Activity

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$154.95

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