With the second highest life expectancy in the world at an average of just under 84 years, Japan has a good reputation for healthy living. Expats relocating to Kobe can take advantage of the good quality natural environment, healthy foods and various facilities available in the city to keep themselves in good shape. Here is some of what is on offer.
For those who fancy pumping iron or clocking up the hours on the treadmill, there are plenty of gymnasiums and sports centers to choose from. The cheapest option is to use or join a gym run by the Kobe City Sports Education Association that manages five gymnasiums and two sports centers with membership options starting at around 3,500 yen per month. Facilities include treadmills and basic weight machines. Other options include nationwide provider Konami, with 5 gyms in Kobe that have access to pools and saunas; the 24-hour Joyfit24 with three locations in Kobe and monthly fees at around 6,500 yen; and Gold’s Gym that offers good weight training facilities from two Kobe locations for around 7,000 yen a month.
If you want to combine exercise with a touch of a competitive edge, there are a number of sports clubs and sessions for people of all ages. These include football sessions and skills training, tennis lessons for 9,000 yen a month, jiu-jitsu martial arts from beginner to advanced level, winter sports for the colder months, and boxing combined with exercise (cleverly named boxercise). You can find more information on available sports facilities in Kobe here.
Yoga has grown in popularity worldwide in recent years. In Japan, it has been taught and practiced for over 100 years and you can find yoga classes as well as retreats across the country. Facilities in Kobe include the Abundance yoga retreat located among the hills of Kitano-cho. Services offered include yoga, dance, detox, healing and more with classes starting at 2,500 yen a session. KobeYoga has studios in Sannomiya and Rokko that provide yoga, pilates and strength training on a range of different rate plans. The LAVA Hot Yoga Studio in Sannomiya gives introductory sessions in various different techniques to newcomers with membership plans ranging from around 7,500 – 15,000 yen a month. For those with bad posture, sleep problems or stress issues, the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Kobe runs therapeutic sessions with different price options.
Japan is famous for its wellness spas, known as “onsens”. These are natural hot springs that people can bathe in and receive therapeutic treatment. Many onsens have additional on-site facilities such as inns, and people often book to stay for a few days. Arima Onsen, only 30 minutes away from Kobe, is one of the oldest and most well-known spa towns in Japan. There are different types of spa treatments to choose from and you can also spend time soaking up the relaxing environment of this friendly town to fully recharge your batteries.
One of the best and cheapest ways of keeping yourself in shape in Kobe is to go for a good walk. The city offers great settings for anything from a gentle scenic stroll to a full hike that will get the muscles working (and aching!). You can check the MapMyWalk website for good walking trails and MapMyHike for hiking routes.
Getting regular exercise and staying stress-free is only part of living healthy. You also need to watch what you eat. Fortunately, the Japanese diet is considered healthier overall than many western diets. For a real health kick, try visiting Modernark Pharm Cafe in the Chuo ward, which serves healthy dishes based mainly on vegetables and brown rice. Mame no Hatake in Sannomiya is another good health-themed option, serving up delicious tofu dishes. Also in Sannomiya is the Kobe Farmers Market where you can pick up fresh, healthy, local produce.