Kitano-cho Travel Guide


Wealthy foreigners, including Americans, English, and Germans, settled in the Kitano area in the late 19th century, bringing Western-style domestic architecture. Their homes are referred to in Kobe as ijinkan, and the district is extremely popular with Japanese tourists, who enjoy the rare opportunity to see old-fashioned Western houses. Some residences are still inhabited by Westerners, but more than a dozen 19th-century ijinkan in Kitano-cho are open to the public. A few of them are worth exploring, but seeing them all can be repetitious. The curious mélange of Japanese and Western Victorian and Gothic architecture makes for a good neighborhood walk. The streets are littered with small boutiques, cafés, and a few antiques shops.

To get to Kitano-cho, walk 15 minutes north along Kitano-zaka-dori from San-no-miya Station or 10 minutes west along Kitano-dori from Shin-Kobe Station. Yamamoto-dori (nicknamed Ijinkan-dori) is Kitano's main east–west street, and the ijinkan are on the small side streets ascending the hill. Tourist information centers offer detailed area maps with all attractions marked in English.

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