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The international city of Kobe. Kobe has long been an entryway to the world, and since the opening of its port in 1868, it has flourished as a port city. The city has welcomed many foreign residents, and even now Kobe is home to many permanent non-Japanese residents, has incorporated a diversity of cultures, and is a city alive with other cultures. The city center is very close to both the mountains and the ocean, and if you drive just 30 minutes or so, you'll find a beautiful expanse of scenic rice fields. With both urban functionality and rich natural surroundings, Kobe is a diverse, compact city.
A map showing where Kobe City is located within Japan.
Number one ranking in
Kobe's city center is fully equipped with urban functionality, but you'll also find the rich nature of the Rokko Mountains and the port scenery laid out nearby, making the city a safe and comfortable place to live. Kobe was also ranked as a good city to live in in the "2019 Quality of Living Survey," which evaluates cities according to health/hygiene, public services, transportation, schools, education, etc.
Three international students walking together near Kobe Port.
An international city home to people from 144 countries
Of Kobe City's population of approximately 1,540,000, approximately 51,000 are non-Japanese, and the city's residents includes people from 145 countries and regions around the world (As of March, 2023). Kobe is an international city. Because of the it's long history as a port city, receiving many foreign people, a culture accepting of a variety of different lifestyles has taken root in Kobe.
*"Kobe Statistics" of Kobe City, March 2023.
An illustration of men and women from many different countries.
The number of universities and junior colleges ranks number two in Japan amongst ordinance-designated cities, according to the 2019 MEXT General School Survey.
Kobe is a university city home to 20 different universities and junior colleges and around 70,000 students. In order realize this "town chosen by students," students actively work together with locals to keep the city clean, help support child-rearing, and plan projects to revitalize shopping streets. The city has created an environment that makes it easy for students to take part in planning local activiites.
A map of the Kobe City area with 24 pins representing 24 universities and junior colleges.
One of the world's cutting-edge research bases
Every year, 438 international conferences are held in Kobe (2019 Results). Of these, medical and scientific conferences make up roughly half. In Kobe, with its cutting-edge research and development environment, and fertile ground for promoting collaboration between companies and academic institutions, there are many researchers taking part in pioneering research.
A graph showing the number of international conferences in Kobe City from 2012 to 2017. See explanatory text for details.
A city where you can enjoy the best of Japan
Kobe is the perfect place to enjoy the best Japan has to offer. For example, Arima Onsen is both one of Japan's "Three Oldest Onsen" (hot springs) and one of Japan's "Three Famous Onsen," and receives a large number of visitors. The nightscape seen from Kikuseidai lookout atop Mount Maya, too, is ranked as one of the "Three Major Night Views of Japan." The nightscape seen from Mount Rokko is also an amazing sight.
A photo of Arima Onsen at night
Gateway to culture from overseas
Since the opening of Kobe Port in 1868, food, sports, entertainment, and more began to enter Kobe from overseas. In today's Kitano area, a foreign settlement area was built, introducing Western styles of architecture and lifestyle, and transforming the town with a sense of exoticism. Nowadays, Kobe is developing into Japan's foremost international trading city. Kobe is also the home of many firsts in Japan, including movies, golf, perms, Western clothing, jazz, and so on, which were made into a unique Kobe culture, and spread across all of Japan.
A view of the streets of Kobe as seen from out on the ocean in Kobe Harbor.
The sweet aroma of
Since the Meiji Period (1868-1912) opening of Kobe's port, a culture of eating sweets began to spread in the Sannomiya, Motomachi, and Kitano areas, primarily in areas of foreign settlement. When you walk down the city streets nowadays, you'll run into many attractive pastry shops and chocolatiers. Kobe sweets are said to be some of the country's best, and throughout the city, you'll find everything from long-beloved, local shops to world famous Western sweet shops. Recently, a series of young chefs have felt the attraction and potential of Kobe, the "city of sweets," and have opened their shops here, as this stylish and delicious city continues to grow.
A waffle with strawberries
Birthplace of Jazz
In 1923, the first performance by a professional jazz band was held in the City of Kobe. That history still has deep roots in the city, and the city is even sometimes called "Jazz City Kobe." You can find live jazz performances and events in Kobe every day somewhere in the city. The large Kobe Jazz Street event is held in autumn, and draws musicians not only from Japan, but also from overseas, lighting up the unchanged, retro look of Kitano Hill with a free and fun atmosphere.
A photo of a saxophone performance in the city.
Deep roots in disaster mitigation and prevention, in a city built to be disaster-resistant, safe, and secure
Kobe City has brought together different disaster prevention and mitigation initiatives and technologies since experiencing the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The local community works as one to educate itself on disaster prevention, form local groups to increase knowledge and understanding of natural disasters. The city also holds disaster-related symposiums, exhibitions, and large scale international conferences on disaster-prevention to continue to share emergency management policies and technology with the world.
A photo of people learning how to use fire extinguishers during a practice drill.