Kobe: Mountains, Business, and Beef

With about 1.5 million people, Kobe is Japan’s 6th most populous city. Located in the Hyogo prefecture, Kobe is nestled along the coastline approximately 310 miles west of Tokyo and is reachable from Tokyo in about 3 ½ hours by train. Once among the most important port cities in Japan after Japan opened itself up to trade, Kobe is still the fourth busiest seaport city in the nation.

Kobe is home to a number of famous Japanese companies, such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kobe Steel, and ASICS, which is a sportswear and athletic equipment company. Global companies that make their Japanese headquarters in Kobe include Nestle and Proctor & Gamble. With so many companies and trades in Kobe, the area among the busiest for business and office jobs in Japan.

If you’re just there to sightsee, the first thing you’ll notice is the Rokko Mountains, which frame the long, rather thin city of Kobe on the opposite side of the ocean. The apex of the Rokko Mountains is about 3055 feet high. If you’re interested in seeing the city of Kobe from the mountains, there are a number of observation decks, restaurants, museums, and even a botanical garden along the mountainside. Perhaps most famous is the Arima Onsen (read here about onsen) atop the mountain, from which you can bathe and see the city at a stunning height. Taking a bus to the onsen from the city will only cost you about US$20 round-trip.

You can’t leave Kobe (unless you’re a vegetarian or not a fan of beef) without trying some Kobe beef. Easily one of the highest quality beef types in all of Japan, other Japanese cities import Kobe’s black Tajima-ushi Wagyu cattle beef. Some of the highest quality cuts of steak made from Kobe beef can cost about US$500 (!), but you can sample much more affordable Kobe beef in anything from burgers to shabu shabu to sushi (cooked) to sukiyaki.

Your trip to Kobe would be incomplete without a ride on the giant Ferris wheel at Kobe Harborland. The view from the Ferris wheel at night is stunning!

Have you ever been to Kobe? Have you ever tried Kobe beef? Is the beef worth the rave reviews it gets? Have you ever visited the Rokko Mountains?

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Tags: Food, hyogo, japan, japanese business, japanese culture, japanese history, japanese places, kobe, kobe beef