Need a simple 1 Day Itinerary in Kobe? Or maybe you just want to know what is on offer in the town. 神戸 Kobe, Japan, is the sixth largest city on Osaka Bay in Japan and is a beautiful city with many wonderful gardens and is famous for its Kobe Beef. But there is so much more to Kobe than it’s selection of steaks – keep reading to find some hidden gems, beautiful waterfalls, and a deep history.
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How to get to Kobe From Major Japanese Cities
Kobe is connected to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto as well as an airport, though a one day Kobe itinerary would be best executed from Osaka if you want to minimise travel time and hassle.
Osaka to Kobe by train
Taking the shinkansen bullet train is the most time effective option – it takes only 13 minutes to travel between Shin-Osaka and Shin-Kobe. An unreserved seat from Osaka to Kobe will cost around 1500 yen (approximately $13 USD / £10 GBP), to reserve your seat is almost double that cost.
What’s the difference between reserved and unreserved tickets on shinkansen?
A reserved seat means that you pay for a specific seat – the way you do on a plane – and that means you are guaranteed to be able to sit down for your journey but you are restricted to travelling on a specific train. An unreserved ticket is valid for one day on one specific route but is first come first served for seats – like taking regular public transport in most major cities. If you don’t get a seat this can mean you are standing for the whole journey. Now, on the Osaka to Kobe train this is only 13 minutes, but for other journeys this could be hours.
Using the shinkansen can be cost effective if you have a Japan Rail Pass but be aware the two fastest trains on this route (Nozomi and the Mizuho) are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. If you don’t want to use shinkansen you can travel from the Osaka Station on the JR Kobe Line, with this train you can get to Kobe station in half an hour for 640 yen (approximately $6 USD / £4.50 GBP), and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Kyoto to Kobe by train
Kyoto is a bit further away with trains taking between 50 and 70 minutes to deliver you. From Central Kyoto there is a private line – the Hankyu Kyoto Line – that will get you there but you will need to transfer trains with this option, and it will take 71 minutes. It is around half the price of taking the Japan Rail Kyoto line, which comes in 1080 yen (approximately $9.60 USD / £7.30 GBP) and takes 50 minutes.
For those who bought the Japan Rail Pass you can take the shinkansen for 32 minutes to Shin-Kobe station.
Tokyo to Kobe
If you are wanting to do a 1 day itinerary in Kobe but are staying in Tokyo I would say the only practical option is the high speed trains. Tokyo and Kobe are connected by the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. The quickest options here are 160 minutes on the Nozomi, and direct trains which take around 195 minutes. Though one way fares will cost around 15,000 yen (approximately $134 USD / £102 GBP)
Local trains require many transfers (at least 4 in my research) and take about 10 hours and can cost between 2300 and 9500 yen (approximately $20-$85 USD / £15 – £64 GBP). Similarly, the bus from Tokyo to Kobe takes around 9 hours and can cost up to 10,000 yen.
Kobe Airport to Central Kobe
The easiest way to get from Kobe Airport into town is to take the designated train line to Sannomiya station, although there are private transfer services available.
For a great guide to Japan –
Click here to check out the Japan Lonely Planet guide book
How to Get Around in Kobe
There are trains and buses though the buses are often the best choice as the trains don’t run everywhere. If you want to make bus travel easy for yourself you can grab a 1 day bus pass for 660 yen (approximately $6 USD / £4.50 GBP) – half price for kids 6-12 years old and available all year round. There is also a 1 day Kobe coupon for 950 yen (approximately $8.50 USD / £6.50 GBP) which includes a day of municipal train usage and 700 yen towards admission and other benefits at locations around Kobe.
1 Day Kobe Itinerary Details
Arriving in Kobe, depending on how early you left, you may need a coffee. Japan has a super unique coffee culture – so if you want to get straight in to seeing Kobe either do what I like to do and sit in a local coffee shop and chill out for a while or grab a canned coffee and head on into town!
Meriken Park is a great place to start your 1 day Kobe Itinerary, it is a 20 minute bus ride from Shin-Kobe. This is one of the most photographed areas of Kobe and lots of people make particular effort to visit in evening to see it all lit up with beautiful lights.
Merikin Park is a visually striking place, with the red Kobe Port Tower – and you will probably see it on every tourist guide and postcard stand! There are modern art installations and fountains, as well as home to two museums should you wish to visit one in the morning.
Kawasaki Good Times World is where I would head first but that is because I am a motorbike fanatic – though there is more than bikes to Kawasaki! Sharing the same building, which is topped with an impressive sail-like steel framework, is the Kobe Maritime Museum. This museum highlights the historical and modern role of the port, how it works, and ships in model form as well as real historic boats on display.
Alternatively – if boats, bikes and heavy machinery are not your favourite then there are a few options like the the Earthquake Museum nearby. The Earthquake Museum documents the destruction suffered by Kobe in 1995, it is educational and eye opening!
If shopping is what you desire for your morning then Harbour Land is Where you will head next, though people say that this pales in comparison to the offerings of Tokyo. For shopping of a different type you can head to Nankin-machi, a neighbourhood of Kobe which is one of Japans limited number of China Towns! There are many Chinese shops here as well as a Chinese temple.
Lunch in Kobe
Now, if you are a meat eater then the only answer to “what’s for lunch?” while in Kobe is Steak. Kobe is world famous for its high quality, highly prized – and priced – steak.
What’s special about Kobe beef? Well, there are many factors which go into the grading and classification of beef – essentially Kobe beef has to be a certain breed, certain age, from a certain area, and have certain marbling and a whole bunch of other certain things. What this boils down to is that only about 4,000 head of cattle are actually able to be classified as Kobe beef a year. Which also means that the super cheap steak on offer from places in Kobe is most likely to be non-Kobe wagyu beef. Which is still excellent. But if you are looking for Kobe then you wanna get Kobe.
You can spend whatever you like really, from a decent $20 to sky’s the limit. If you watch the excellent video below, you’ll see he visits a premium award-winning restaurant where one of the prime cuts of Kobe beef is 58,000 yen for 300 grams – that’s about $500 USD and £400. However the advice to try the best, within your budget, and then fill up on the $20 stuff is, honestly, what I’d do.
Is there anything for vegans and vegetarians in Kobe?
If you are vegan there are many options for vegan food in Kobe, and Japanese cuisine is well known for its vegetable options. so if you aren’t a steak freak like me, you can find something delicious in Chinatown and its surrounds.
What to Do in Kobe After lunch?
Now, after chowing down on your lunch of choice, a hike may seem out of the question. But the views from the top of Kobes’ nearby hills are gorgeous – and there are cable cars and rope pulls almost everywhere! If you do want to hike off your lunch then I would suggest heading back to Shin-Kobe station and starting your hike up to the Nunobuki Herb Garden. Japan Guide states that it is only a 20 minute walk to get to the beautiful Nunobiki Waterfalls, and a further 20 minutes of walking will bring you to the lower entrance for the Herb garden.
The herb garden costs 1,400 yen (approximately $13 USD / £10 GBP) and is one of Japans largest herb gardens with hundreds of types of herbs and flowers, as well as a glasshouse which allows flowers and fruits to be grown throughout the year. If you don’t want to pay the entry fee, or herb gardens are not your thing, then you can hike straight through to the observation deck at the top. Here there is a rest house, café, and restaurant. If you’d like to continue your afternoon of hiking you can follow the same trail to Mt. Maya which is one of the other peaks in the Rokko Mountain Range. There is a cable car down Mt Maya also, which is linked well with Shin-Kobe.
If you wanted to be at the observation deck for sunset you could make your way from Shin-Kobe to the Mt Maya cable car, hike along to the Observation deck in time for dinner and sunset and then enjoy the cable car down to Shin-Kobe to make your way back to the city you’re staying in.
Museums in Kobe
There are many museums in Kobe, and maybe you would prefer to fill your afternoon with a wander though these rather than go hiking !
Sake brewery museum
The Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum in Kobe used the sake brewery built in the early Taisho period. Here you can learn not just how sake is made, but also learn about the history of this iconic beverage and the brewery at Kobe. The Kobe Sake Brewery Museum is open from 9:30 until 16:30 but is closed for major holidays. Admission is free!
Interactive children’s museums are one of the best ideas ever! The Kobe Children’s Museum is one of the Anpanman Children’s Museum chain, the cast of characters are from a very popular children’s book in Japan who teaches kids about love and courage, friendship and kindness – plus there are lots of restaurants and shops. So if your kids need a break from the rushing about of travel this is a great option!
The UCC Coffee Museum in Kobe sounds like the one for me! I love coffee for all it’s qualities – the caffeine, the flavour, the community – the ritual of sitting down with a steaming cup of amazingness.
Since 1987 the UCC Coffee Museum has done this, 300 yen will get an adult entry (discounted rates available for children, seniors, and those requiring the help of an attendant) to this amazing museum in Kobe. I have to say that I’d be most excited for the tasting corner! Four times a day there is a tasting, you can try and compare different coffee roasts from places around the world according to that month’s theme!
Carpentry tools museum
Now, before you look at me funny, yes I think this would be amazing. The Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum strives to pass on the love for nature and the spirit of the craftsman in its museum. Woodworking and carpentry is something that humans have excelled at – or at least wanted to excel at – for centuries upon centuries. The tools humans use generally develop in fascinating ways and this is absolutely true of carpentry. For 500 yen per adult you can explore the museum divided in to 7 sections and explore the history, and immerse yourself in the age old practices of carpentry.
Kobe city museum
Though closed until November 2nd 2019 (check here for updates), the City Museum showcases the history of Japan with 39,000 artifacts and art pieces through thousands of years of history.
The Maritime Museum in Kobe is probably the easiest museum to find as it sits under the custom white sail like structure of steel in Meriken Park. There is a theater here which shows a history of the port, as well as several exhibition rooms and an outdoor exhibition area. 600 yen for access to the Maritime Museum, 700 for the Red Tower, or…..
Ticket Budgeting Tip: For 1,000 yen you can get a “multi-use” ticket which covers entry to the Maritime Museum, Kawasaki Good Times World, and the Red Tower! This ticket costs 400 yen for children
Kawasaki Good Times World
The Kawasaki Good Times World is located in the Maritime Museum building. This houses a history of Kawasaki – and they don’t just make motorcycles. There are land, sea, and air zones where Kawasaki showcase their history of heavy machinery in these arenas. Additionally, they take time to show off their high performance robots and their commitment to the global environment.
If I was heading to Japan with G Adventures then I would choose the Back Roads of Japan itinerary. This itinerary includes many of the must sees of Japan, as well as some amazing activities not many tourists get to enjoy.
Click here for more information
1 day Kobe itinerary done – what next?
Well, you can always head back to the town you’re staying in – but perhaps you would like to extend your stay in this area. Close to Kobe is Arima-Onsen. Tucked behind the Rokko Mountain Range Arima-Onsen is a tranquil and historical place with many places to stay, experience the beautiful hot springs, and incredible things to eat. This sounds to me like the most perfect way to extend a day trip to Kobe – have an amazing day full of food and hiking in Kobe, then head into the mountains for peace and tranquility.
Share this with your friends – maybe one of them will come to Kobe with you!