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Kobe Highlights

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Ichigatani-1-3 Rokkōsanchō, Nada-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 657-0101, Japan

The Japanese like to be able to take the long view; luckily, almost every spot in the country is surrounded by heavily forested mountains, most of them untouched by loggers. You don’t have to work too hard for this particular view, either,...

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Arima-onsen, Arimacho, Kita, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 651-1401, Japan

Back when the Japanese and Europeans were still getting to know each other, one big difference between the two was that Europeans were certain that baths were very bad for you. One a month was one too many. Meanwhile, the Japanese had perfected...

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1 Chome-2-1 Shimoyamatedōri, Chūō-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 650-0011, Japan

One of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan (and maybe actually the oldest), Ikuta was built in the 3rd century, and, depending on whom you ask, was either built for Wakahirume, the spirit of the rising sun, for the preservation of health, or as a...

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Ikawadanicho Zenkai, Nishi Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 651-2108, Japan

Kobe’s only site on the Japan National Treasures list, Taisan-ji was established in 716; the hondo, or main hall, dates back to 1293. Most of the rest was rebuilt in the last 100 years or so. The hondo is in classic Wayo style—the...

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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, is full of temples a thousand years old, all of which escaped the bombing in WWII largely because a single man in the U.S. military wisely thought it would be bad to destroy the heart of the country. Modern...

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1 Chome-5-2 Wakinohamakaigandōri, Chūō-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 651-0073, Japan

On January 17, 1995, at 5:46 in the morning, Kobe was walloped by an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale—or 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale, which is more frequently used in Japan. It was the strongest quake to hit the country...

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4 Chome-5-5 Sumiyoshi Minamimachi, Higashinada-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 658-0041, Japan

Give any culture enough time, and it'll figure out how to distill or ferment something. The Russians are as good with potatoes as the Italians are with grapes. And the Japanese got their drink on with rice. Sake is all too frequently called...

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Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan

Osaka is sort of the Chicago of Japan. It has its own dialect, is way more relaxed than Tokyo and even gets seriously passionate about its losing baseball team. Yet Osaka, flattened during WWII, seemed eager to make its comeback in order to...

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Michiminami-1-4 Yamadachō Tsukuhara, Kita-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 651-1264, Japan

A Japanese Cultural Treasure, Hakogi Sennenya House is the oldest surviving private residence in Japan. Built during the Muromachi period (1336–1573), it shows how the reasonably rich lived in the 1300s. (Not bad at all, once you get used to...

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Nunobikiyama Fukiaicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 651-0058, Japan

Even for the Japanese, Japanese cities can be overwhelming. All that concrete, the endless search for addresses (street addresses are based on when a building was finished, not its geographical order), the telephone hold music always being...

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3 Chome-9-2 Sannomiyachō, Chūō-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 650-0021, Japan

Japan’s main tea-growing area is around Uji, over by Nara, but whatever the tea’s source, it's likely to be available here. You'll find tea, hundreds of kinds (both foreign and domestic), so sniff the leaves and explore.

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Japan, 〒650-0011 Hyōgo Prefecture, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Shimoyamatedori, 1 Chome−1−2 みそのビル 7・8F

Japan didn’t really do cows before WWII. A few were around, raised more for the leather than the meat. But the war came, and with it came occupying soldiers who knew exactly what to do with cows. This place, opened in 1945, serves the finest...

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Japan, 〒650-0044 Hyōgo-ken, Kōbe-shi, Chūō-ku, Higashikawasakichō, 1 Chome−6−1 モザイク2F

Browse the market, then check out the huge buffet for a chance to eat essentially any creature that swims near Japan. Food like this is why the Japanese lived so long before they started eating like the West does.

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4丁目-1-1 布引町 中央区 神戸市 兵庫県 651-0096, Japan

Gyoza might be the cheapest food in Japan. A couple hundred yen gets you enough of the garlic-heavy dumplings to make a full meal; dip in some soy sauce for perfection. You may have to fight for space among the office workers who jam inside on...

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5 Chome-16 Sanbanchō, Nagata-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 653-0011, Japan

Kobe is famous for its beef, but foodies talk about the fish: specifically, the highly poisonous fugu—there’s enough tetrodoxin (200 times deadlier than cyanide) in a single fish to kill 30 people, since a fatal dose is about the size...

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8 Chome-1 Kanocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 650-0001, Japan

Japanese cities do shopping streets more than they do individual stores: pedestrianized malls that can go on for a mile or more. Sannomiya, just south of the train station, offers a taste of everything someone Japanese might want to buy. Check out...

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A Japanese woman who truly wants to dress up wears a kimono—and a full kimono, which can have more than a dozen layers of color-matched silk fabric, can get very, very expensive, like new-car expensive. But there’s a grace and rhythm...

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7-23 Babadōri, Tarumi-ku, Kōbe-shi, Hyōgo-ken 655-0021, Japan

An idea carried over from China, the hanging scroll is a staple of Japanese art: calligraphy, landscapes, mythical animals. And the fact it’s art that rolls up makes it a whole lot easier to get home.

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There's absolutely no telling what you might find here, but it’ll be cheap. This is a great stop for people with a lot of obligatory souvenirs to buy—or for the really brave who want to try food packets that offer almost no clue as to...