Welcome to Kitano Ijinkan-gai!

In Japanese history, there was a period of time when no foreigner could come into Japan and no Japanese person could leave the country, on penalty of death. This period, known as Sakoku, lasted more than 200 years from the mid-17th century to the mi-19th century.

In the 5 port cities that reopened after Sakoku ended, dedicated “foreigner foreigner living areas” were created. This is why you can see very old fashioned European style architecture in Hakodate, Niigata, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki.

This area of Kobe was purposely avoided during the bombing of Kobe during World War II, and the buildings remain as cultural properties protected by the government (and thus, becoming a tourist attraction in Kobe).  This area of Kobe has very steep hills. Be prepared to walk!


There are several of these buildings in the area, and most of them charge admission. Watch out though – some of these are still residential buildings.

The former Hilton Residence, also known as the former Panama Consulate

The French Mansion and Ben Allison’s house

The streets are narrow, not straight, and on an incline.  This is a very expensive residential area, but I don’t think I would want to live here!

There are also lots of small shops. This area reminds me of Jiyugaoka, in Tokyo.

The Starbucks in the area is also in a building with a similar feel. (The menu itself is exactly the same)

Within this area is Kitano Tenman Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane.  Sugawara no Michizane was a historical scholar, and shrines dedicated to him are common places to pray for school-related things (getting accepted to a certain university, better grades, etc)

And finally..
Here is a little giveaway to thank all of my readers during the past 2 years.
I’m giving away a limited edition Hello Kitty pen which is only available in Kobe!
(This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!)

Kobe-only Hello Kitty pen in Victorian era Western clothing 
(to depict westerners living in Kitano)

To enter, please comment on any thoughts you have on how I can improve my blog. This giveaway is open to my subscribers, and please be sure to leave your email address or your twitter name so I can contact you (you do not need to do this if we communicate regularly).  I will contact the winner on October 24th.

Hope you enjoyed this trip to Kitano Ijinkan-gai!

xoxo, K

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14 thoughts on “Welcome to Kitano Ijinkan-gai!”

  1. What a cute and quaint area! Imlove the shrines in Japan and this one is no exception. I would love to see it in person. Thank you for sharing your sightseeing trip.

  2. This is mighty fascinating! I never knew about that period of history. I had a vague idea those foreigner living areas existed from reading period manga… I dont know why, but the architecture reminds me of Disney Land Main Street section? xD

    I’d love to see more of these types of posts as well as food posts! 😀

  3. The European-style architecture is so unexpected but it doesn’t look out of place at all! Isn’t there some place called the Huis ten Bosch in Japan which is modeled after the Netherlands?

    Honestly, I think your blog is very lovely. Your reviews are always concise and to the point, and I also like your taste in blogs (I often visit your blog to look at your sidebar too…). I found the Macheesmo blog through yours, actually. I do miss your old blog name though…

  4. I always want to go to Japan~ reading your posts are always interesting esp all about japan :). I think you should change the layout~ he5 It is too simple~ @sha288
    Thank you~

  5. Thanks for these easy to remember bit on Japanese history! Kobe looks lovely and I especially like the small shops (Shiny accessory shop is on sale!)

    I love reading your blog and I can’t think of any spectacular idea to improve it. Hmmm… i’m thinking if it’s possible for you to reorganize your search box so that it shows up on the uppermost part of your left sidebar. It will be easier for first-timers to look through more of your helpful reviews quickly.

  6. There it is! Thanks for considering my suggestion 🙂

    I also think you should keep the lay-out because it’s clean, easy on the eyes, and makes readers focus on the content and not so much on floats around your page.

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