The next time you visit Japan, take the time to explore the lesser known, but equally dazzling cities, like Kobe. Perched on the sloping hills between the Rokko Mountain Ranges and the sea, Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of the most attractive cities in Japan. It is also historically important as one of the first ports to welcome foreign trade in the 19th century, among four others. What stands today, is a city that has been rebuilt after the terrible earthquake in 1995.

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Though small, it is a delight to wander through Kobe’s beautiful neighbourhoods — like Kitano-chõ, Chinatown and Nankinmachi, stop for a snack or a meal in its elite cafes and restaurants, and explore its bustling nightlife.

Of course, there are some must-see attractions that the city offers. The Nunobiki waterfall — among the hundred best in Japan — has inspired poetry for centuries, and you’ll find some of these poems engraved here. This astounding waterfall that cascades down in four sections may be accessed from the Shin-Kobe station. The waterfall, located along the Ikuta River, is renowned for its high-quality Kobe Water, famous among the crew of foreign ships that stopped at Kobe Port for water.

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For sweeping views of the city and the Seto Inland Sea, ride the ropeway up the Rokko Mountain Range. You’ll enjoy enchanting vistas, especially at night. You can step off the ropeway at the Nunobiki Herb Garden and stroll among the flowers and herbs that adorn it, not to mention, the superb foliage that enfolds it from all around. The colours are especially breathtaking in the fall when the foliage turns orange and red, and the garden boasts cosmos, roses, and pampas grass. The summer sun encourages lavenders and spring brings forth delicate cherry blossoms.

You can also enjoy the Rokko Snow Park and Rokko International Musical Box Museum when you’re around Mount Rokko.

If you prefer the sea to the mountains, then visit the Kobe Suma Marine Museum for a delightful time viewing sharks, stingrays, dolphins and other marine creatures. You’ll also find the Pirarucu, the giant fish of the Amazon rivers, and the Piranha, the Amazon’s freshwater omnivores.

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To enjoy the city’s glamour and glitter, step into Kobe Harborland, an entertainment and shopping district by the waterfront. You can enjoy the lights in and around the city from the height of the Mosaic Ferris Wheel at night, or take in the views during the day. The Harborland presents a romantic atmosphere, with numerous restaurants, cafes, shopping destinations and other entertainment options.

Drive across the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge, enjoy a soothing weekend at the Arima Onsen, and explore the history of Kobe at the Kobe Maritime Museum. And don’t forget to taste Kobe beef, the best in the world. So indulge in Sashimi, sukiyaki, teppanyaki, shabu-shabu and steak.

Kobe tucks away many precious gems for those who seek them out. Explore, discover, and enjoy this fascinating part of Japan.