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 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)
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!)
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!