Meat lovers often plan day trips to Kobe just to try its most famous food: Kobe beef. In fact, there is much more to see and do in the city than eat steak. If you only have one day, you’ll need to plan your time carefully to make sure you’re able to fit everything in.
When arriving to Kobe from JR Kobe Station, the logical next step is to head to Harborland. As you have limited time, there’s no need to do much more than take a quick walk through. After all, the shopping district is much like many others you find around the country.
If you see a photo of Kobe, chances are it features Meriken Park. Just a short distance from Harborland, head here to see famous modern art structures, including a sculpture called Fish Dance, the Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial on Meriken Pier, and the iconic Kobe Port Tower.
You may also like to pay a visit to the Kobe Maritime Museum or Kawasaki World. You probably know Kawasaki as a motorcycle manufacturer, but the company also makes ships, trains, and aerospace equipment — all of which you can find information about in the museum.
From Meriken Park, take a train to Shin-Kobe Station. From there, it’s just a short walk to Nunobiki Falls — one of the three most important waterfalls in the country.
Further on, there are the Nunobiki Herb Gardens. Rather than continuing to hike, you may prefer the ropeway. This will take you to the peak of Mount Rokko, the highest point in Kobe and great for views of the city. The ticket for the ropeway includes a return journey and entry to the gardens.
The herb gardens are beautiful almost all year round. Spring brings the cherry blossoms, summer is when flowers are in bloom, and fall comes with the changing colors of the leaves. Spend some time relaxing here, perhaps eating a light lunch in one of the cafés.
Upon exiting the ropeway on your return, you’ll be a short distance from Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum. Although the name may sound less than thrilling, this museum is actually extremely interesting. As well as information about Japanese craftsmanship, ancient culture, and architecture, there are many interactive features.
Once you are back in downtown Kobe, head to Ikuta Shrine. This colorful Shinto shrine is likely one of the oldest in the country. Within the same compound, you can visit 14 other shrines, of all of which honor different gods.
No single restaurant stands out as the very best for Kobe beef. Research your options to find a place that appeals to you — and consider booking in advance if you want to visit a popular restaurant.
This is just a small selection of activities Kobe has to offer. If you have the opportunity to spend more time in the city, take it. You’ll find numerous gardens, museums, sake breweries, and other sites to visit — not to mention you’ll be able to try Kobe beef and other dishes from the region at more restaurants.