If you’re new to Kobe, you might want to know what the social scene is like regarding expats in the city. There are around 44,000 foreign residents in Kobe – approximately 3% of the city’s population – with distinct communities forming social clubs and groups over time. These range from private members clubs to informal coffee meetups. Here are a few of the local groups worth checking out.
The Kobe Club is one of the longest-running English-speaking expat establishments in Kobe. It is a non-profit private membership club that has a restaurant and bar that can be accessed by members, plus the club organizes various events and special occasion celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. The venue is a short 5-minute drive from Motomachi, Sannomiya, and Shin Kobe stations.
This occasional gathering offers residents the chance to meet new people, exchange opinions, and strengthen ties between different communities in Kobe. The forum is aimed at foreign residents, but all, including local Japanese citizens, are welcome.
The Kobe Community Forum, just one of many events and activities run through the Kobe International Center for Cooperation and Communication (KICC) located in the Hamabi-dori district, helps expats settle into the local community by providing a range of activities, events, and information services.
KRAC is a membership club with a monthly subscription fee of 12,500 yen. Founded in 1870, it provides social and sporting activities and has facilities including two bars, a restaurant, event space, meeting rooms, and areas for children. The club is situated about 10 minutes from Sannomiya station.
A membership club located among the heights of Mount James and serving international residents of the surrounding Shioya and Paramount Rokko communities. Members can access facilities, including a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, and fitness equipment. Many classes also run regularly, including yoga, karate, and flower arranging.
This club is over 100 years old and offers female expat residents the opportunity to meet and participate in talks, activities, and excursions. Trips are usually monthly and cost an additional fee, while monthly meetings are held between September and May. Annual club membership fees are 10,000 yen.
English Connect Kobe is a twice-monthly meetup group aimed at linking English-speaking expats with Japanese locals looking to improve their English skills. The group usually meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month and involves informal chats, games, and more. Meetings cost 300 yen to help cover facilities and snacks and take place at the Mustard Seed Christian Church not far from Motomachi Station.
If you’re looking for a bit of literary discussion, this monthly club meets at the Community House and Information Center (CHIC) located on the 3rd floor of the Central Tower in the Higashinada ward. Each month you will be given a book to read, which will be discussed in the next session. Membership is 2000 yen (or 3000 yen for non-members of CHIC). It’s an excellent chance for bookworms to meet like-minded expats and locals.
CHIC runs a wide range of regular sports, arts, and social programs plus a weekly coffee morning every Thursday at 10:30 a.m., where everyone is welcome.