Where to Live in Kobe: The Best Neighborhoods

ByJustin Hanus
Aug 31, 2022

Where to Live in Kobe: The Best Neighborhoods

As the seventh-most populated city in the country, it should come as no surprise that Kobe is made up of many neighborhoods, each of which has its own characteristics. If moving to Kobe, it’s worth knowing something about each neighborhood to decide in advance where to search for your home.


The heart of Kobe is Sannomiya. Sannomiya is the perfect place to be surrounded by activity day and night, and the neighborhood is particularly popular with young people. There’s a great variety of shopping options (including three large arcades) and numerous restaurants, cafés, gyms, and bars. Residents in Sannomiya live in high-rise apartment buildings. If you find a unit on an upper floor, you’ll have great views — of the mountains if your windows face north or the sea if they face south.


Chinatown in Kobe is called Nankinmachi, and it’s one of Japan’s most important Chinatowns. Nankinmachi is another busy neighborhood, although the environment is quite different from Sannomiya. Nankinmachi, with its tremendous selection of restaurants and many traditional festivals, is a top choice if you want to eat out often. In particular, the Chinese–Japanese fusion dishes are delicious.


Kobe has the second-largest port in Japan. The neighborhood is called Harborland and is one of the most popular areas for its various entertainment and shopping options. However, there is less housing than in many of the other neighborhoods.


At the foot of Mount Rokko, you’ll find Kitano — the neighborhood where foreign merchants settled at the beginning of the 19th century. Many of the original buildings are preserved and are now some of the top tourist attractions in Kobe. Living in this neighborhood is expensive but worthwhile if it’s within your budget.

Suma and Tarumi

Families who come to Kobe tend to live in the Suma and Tarumi wards just west of downtown Kobe. Many foreigners live here, especially those working in Akashi. Much of the housing is western-style architecture consisting primarily of large homes, some detached houses, and both low and high-rise apartments.


If you’re looking to experience life like a local in Kobe, Shinkaichi is a great option. It’s full of traditional buildings, theaters, and cafés. The neighborhood is also a favorite hangout spot for musicians and artists. For instance, various rock bars and the Kobe Art Village Center showcase and sell contemporary pieces made by locals.


Between Harborland and Mount Rokko is Motomachi, which is named for the main shopping street in the neighborhood. It has many merchant mansions dating back to the 1800s, with the foreign influences still intact today. The district also has multiple boutiques, department stores, and restaurants. The railway station allows you to reach anywhere in Kobe easily, and the neighborhood is within walking distance of Kobe’s Chinatown.

Where you decide to live in Kobe will depend on what you want from your neighborhood. Whether you prefer constant activity or the suburbs, Kobe has something to offer to pretty much everyone.

Nissy-KITAQ, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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