Kobe is something of a shopper’s paradise with an array of shopping centers and high streets that are mostly within walking distance of each other. Its long history as a popular destination for tourists has allowed retail businesses to thrive. Whether looking for the latest fashion brands, the newest electronic gadgets, collectible antiques or just fancy a stroll with window shopping, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There are plenty of opportunities when it comes to nearby restaurants and family entertainment options too. Here is where you can pick up a few choice items and maybe one or two bargains.
Harborland is one of Kobe’s biggest tourist attractions. Opened in 1922, it’s a waterfront world consisting of numerous shopping centers and facilities, plus cafes, restaurants, cinemas, amusement parks, and even an Anpanman museum. The main shopping center is the Umie mall, which has three wings and around 225 stores. Here you can find international brands including H&M and Zara next to local Japanese names such as Muji and Uniqlo. On the weekend you can find flea markets and street performers lining the walkways next to the sea, while in the evenings the trees are adorned with lights to create a visual treat. Harborland is easy to reach, within walking distance of the JR Kobe station (on the JR Kobe line) and the Harborland subway station (on the Kaigan line).
Website: http://umie.jp/ (Umie Center)
One of Kobe’s busiest and most distinguished shopping destinations, Motomachi Shopping Street has almost 150 years of retail history. There are over 300 retailers located along its 1.2-kilometer stretch between Kobe station and Motomachi station, which makes it a sort of a Kobe equivalent of London’s Oxford Street. It’s a shopping hub in the thriving Sannomiya district where you can find all kinds of stores as well as several shopping malls surrounding it. With some of the shops over a century old, it’s a great place to find antiques, souvenirs and local goods including vintage Japanese dolls and Japanese teas. There are some excellent Japanese restaurants worth checking out too, such as the Rabbits Cafe & Kitchen and Kobe Beef Red One, plus the Fugetsudo Museum dedicated to confectionery. Well worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth.
Just two minutes walk from Sannomiya station, this busy shopping center runs from Koigawa-suji Street to Flower Road and features three wings packed with interesting shops. You can find Japanese retailers big and small here selling everything from clothing to books to electronics to confectionery. There is an English-speaking information desk near the entrance where you can pick up a map to help you navigate your way around the arcade and some unique Takoyaki at Tachibana that you can try near the exit.
This waterfront retail park with stunning views of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is a bit further out from the main drag, about 20-30 minutes from the city center, but there are many bargains to be found with a number of the 140-odd stores selling at discount prices, including a few well-known fashion brand retailers. The outlet park is just a short walk from Tarumi station.
Right next to Sannomiya Station, you’ll find this attractive mint-shaded shopping complex offering a great family shopping experience. You can find the latest brands, technology goods, beauty products, and more alongside restaurants and a cinema complex all spread across 12 floors. Open until 9:00 p.m. daily.