Kobe

Located roughly in the center of Honshu, Japan’s main island, Kobe is easily accessible by land, sea, and air. It is about 3 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo by Bullet Train. Together with Osaka and Kyoto, it forms the focal point for the economy of western Japan.

One of the more interesting areas is Kitano. Since the late 1800s the area has served as a residential district for foreigners. With many houses in semi-Western and semi-Japanese style, the town is rich in exotic atmosphere characteristic of Kobe. Some of the houses, called ijinkan in Japanese, are open to the public, or used as boutiques and restaurants offering ethnic foods; others are still inhabited by foreign residents. Kyukyoruchi also has many old western style buildings.

Nada, the eastern part of Kobe, is known for the production of sake or rice wine. Nada-no-ki-ippon, which is made from pure water of the Rokko mountains, is among the most celebrated sake brands. Several wineries are open to public, and there you can learn the process of sake production and taste it just produced.

Another interesting thing to do, is a visit to the Arima Spas. It’s one of the oldest spa resorts in Japan. Its mineral-rich gold and silver water is effective for the treatment of digestive ailments and skin diseases. Located around the spa are a variety of sights — Zuihoji Park, where a famous warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi held tea ceremonies in the 15th century; Onsen Shrine dedicated to the priests who first discovered the spa; and Tsuzumigataki Fall. The resort contains a number of high-class Japanese-style hotels and souvenir shops.