Sport plays a big part in modern Japanese life and expat sports enthusiasts can find plenty of activities to keep them fit and entertained. Kobe is home to some world-class sporting facilities and has clubs and sessions open to everyone that run throughout the year, from martial arts classes to a relaxing 18 holes of golf.
Football (or soccer) is one of the most popular sports in Japan with fans getting behind both the men’s and women’s national teams as well as the J. League club competition where Vissel Kobe plays in the top division. The Kobe Sports Park and the Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club both have soccer pitches for hire and the Kita-Kobe Rural Sports Park runs regular sessions, including weekly soccer schools for kids (starting at 4,320 yen per month).
Fancy yourself as a bit of a Roger Federer or Serena Williams, or maybe you’re just interested in a casual knockabout to get the heart-rate going? Tennis is another key sport in Japan, winning the country its first Olympic medals in 1920. The Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club runs weekly lessons for adults, juniors and kids through its Tennis Academy, as well as private lessons. Prices start at 9,000 yen a month for adults, 8,500 yen for juniors and 6,500 yen for kids. Sessions are also available for soft tennis, a version of the sport also popular in Japan.
Japan is well-known for its rich martial arts history, giving the world judo, karate, jiu-jitsu and aikido among others. The Gracie Barra school in Kobe teaches a specific form of jiu-jitsu known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Derived from judo in the 19th century, it is a form of self-defence and self-improvement that seeks to improve fitness, reduce stress and build character. Gracie Barra offers classes for everyone, from beginner to advanced. First session is free.
Kobe is the birthplace of golf in Japan with the first course opening here in 1903. Nowadays there are around 70 golf courses in and around the city. The Kobe Golf Club is home to that first course over 100 years ago and is still in operation with two short 18-hole courses. A round costs from 12,100 yen. Kobe also boasts the Hirono Golf Club, considered the best course in Japan and one of the best in the world, with stunning views and tricky holes. Costs range from 5,000 yen – 35,000 yen.
Mount Rokko is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kobe and its snow park is open for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from November to the beginning of April. The slope is suitable for beginners and all equipment is available to hire on site. Costs are 2,600 yen for adults and 1,550 yen for kids. Ski School sessions are also available if you want to hone your skills.
Boxercise is, as you may have guessed, exercise using boxing choreography. It’s not a sport as such but will help you improve your fitness levels and sporting prowess. Sessions are held on Thursdays 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Kobe Community House and Information Centre. 2,500 yen for non-members.
Kobe Sports Park – http://www.kobe-park.or.jp/sougou/
Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club – http://www.krac.org/about.php
Kobe Port Island Sports Centre – http://www.kobe-spokyo.jp/psc
Kita-Kobe Rural Sports Park – http://www.denspo.com/newinfo/2054/
Sports and fitness meetup groups in and around Kobe – https://www.meetup.com/cities/jp/kobe/sports-fitness/