On one of the much-awaited long holiday weekends, when my urge to travel surpasses the fact that the shinkansen (bullet train) tickets does not come cheap, I made my way south of Tokyo, to the capital of Hyogo prefecture- the harbor city of Kobe.
A synagogue, a mosque, a Sikh temple, several European architecture styled buildings and the famous Chinatown exemplify Kobe as one of the major city in Japan which not only open the port for trading but completely over-turned the concept of seclusion.
Kobe Chinatown or Nanjing Town (Nankino-machi) is one of the most celebrated tourist area. With several restaurants, shops and a Chinese Temple, prepare yourself to fall in queue for a dim sum and pearl tea snacks, as most local and foreign tourists often spent their weekends at the Chinatown prior heading to the port area.
Chinatown is reachable via short walk from Motomachi Train station, where the so called Motokoh Town is located at the right side. It is a very small alley-way of shops selling a mixture of anything and everything.
Built on a reclaimed land, the park is a popular venue for almost every usual weekender activity in the city. Clear sky, blue ocean water, Ferris wheel at the nearby Harbor Land, the ship-like architecture of Oriental Hotel and relaxing times is what I will always remember about Kobe.
Like many parts of the city, the waterfront suffers major damage during the 7.2 magnitude Great Hanshin Earthquake (1995). The reconstruction of the port area is outstanding, showing no hint of the tragic event. But if you took your eyes away from the red tower or the ocean view for a minute and explore the boardwalk area, a wall memorial bearing the names of the victims and offered prayers are placed. That is what the mother and child at the first photo was looking at in details.
Take note that the actual commercial district or pretty much where the action is can be found at the surrounding area of Sannomiya station (be aware when booking your tickets or hotel) and not Kobe Station.
This is what the usal happenings outside Sannomiya Station, where few blocks away is the famous Ikuta Shrine and Ikuta Road. If tasting the famous Kobe beef is part of your plan, Ikuta road has plenty of restaurants to choose from.
If you been to Yokohama, much resemblance can be said with Kobe- the Chinatown, the temples, the garden, the waterfront area, even the European architectures. All in all, I would recommend for a good day trip only and spend the remaining vacation days on neighbor town of Himeji, Kyoto or Osaka.