Kobe lies along the Seto Inland Sea in the center of Honshu, a little west of Osaka and several hours east of Hiroshima. Smaller than Tokyo and Osaka, Kobe is more accessible and less formidable. It is large enough, however, to keep you occupied with new attractions and events no matter how frequently you visit.
Divided into approximately 10 distinctive neighborhoods, the city extends from the business-oriented region near the harbor to the lower slopes of Mt. Rokko. Penned in by natural boundaries, Kobe expanded its territory with three man-made islands in the harbor.
Two man-made islands rest in the middle of the harbor. Rokko Island is home to numerous foreign companies, a number of shopping plazas, and the Sheraton hotel, and is where foreigners now tend to settle. Port Island features conference centers, an amusement park, and the Portopia Hotel. Port Island is linked with downtown by a fully computerized monorail—with no human conductor—that extends south to the Kobe airport.
Downtown. San-no-miya Station, in the city center, marks the heart of Kobe's entertainment and nightlife area. Every night passersby linger to hear musicians in a small park just north of the station. Moto-machi's stores are to the west, and most of the business district lies south of San-no-miya.
Kintano-cho. Kobe's original European and American settlers built elegant residences, now known as ijinkan, on the city's northern slopes. Many of the preserved ijinkan have been turned into museums. Small boutiques, international cafés, and a few antiques shops seduce visitors to meander along Kitano-zaka and Pearl Street.
North of Kobe. The impressive Nunobiki Falls are surprisingly accessible from downtown, just behind the Shin-Kobe Station. Rokko-san (san means "mountain") is a little farther out, providing great views and cool mountain air. Arima Onsen, on the other side of Rokko-san, is one of Japan's oldest hot-springs destinations.
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