Thursday, January 15, 2015

Japan Day 8: {Kobe} Kitano District

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Kobe is one of Japan's ten largest cities, and is a popular tourist destination among the locals because it has a certain charm to it different from other Japanese cities.

The city also has an excellent subway system and rail connectivity. For tourists, the City loop bus which operates at regular frequency and passes by most of the city's main attractions, is a good option. We rode the hop-on, hop-off bus to go to the Kitano district.
Personal space is something every Japanese respects. I so appreciate that they do not push their way though queues. No crowding and cutting lines even if the queue gets very long.

Kitano is a city district at the foot of the Rokko mountain range where many foreign merchants and diplomats, including Americans and Europeans, settled after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. 

One of Kobe's most-visited attractions is the Ijinkan or Foreign Houses located at Kitano. These are 19th-century residences of Kobe's foreign traders. When Japan opened itself up for trade with foreigners, Kobe was one of the first ports to be opened up. This meant a big number of foreigners who settled down in the area. While the Chinese merchants set up the Nankinmachi near the port, the European diplomats and traders chose to settle down at the foot of the Rokko mountain range. The look of the district gives tourists a feeling of visiting an old European country.

More than a dozen of the former mansions, remain in the area and are open to the public as museums.

The English House also known as the Sherlock Holmes House.

The Rhine House

There are stamps inside each of the houses so you can collect the stamps the same way you collect them on a passport.

These two history-lovers took some time to view the video which showed the devastation brought about by the 1995 Kobe earthquake. It was Japan's worst earthquake in the 20th century. The video also showed the resilient spirit of the Japanese and how they were able to rebuild the city.

The Denmark House is built around the Viking theme and also features the works of the famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen.

The Moegi House, so named becasue of its light green color, was built in 1903 and was a residence of Mr. Hunter Sharp, a former U.S. Consul General.

This was one of three chimneys left in its current state after collapsing from the roof and into the garden from the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

The open space outside the Moegi House and Weathercock House (shown in the background) is a good place to relax. There's a small park with benches, so the kids quickly settled in one of the benches to take a break from all the walking.

There's really not much to do in this area other than walking around and looking at the houses. We had the whole day to spend in Kobe, and we enjoyed the leisurely pace of our walk.

Visitors can tour most of these houses for an admission fee, which varies for each house. We went in all the houses which were free, but skipped those that required payment. Sayang lang ang entrance fee sa mga bata. teehee!:) But the kids enjoyed walking around the area, and it also provided a good experience to view another side of Japan.  It was nice and relaxing to walk up the charming streets with lots of beautifully decorated flower beds filled with colorful spring flowers.

As we made our way down the hill, the kids stopped at a shop selling Japanese crepes.

Kobe is also famous for its sweets and desserts, and there are a lot of shops on both sides of the road selling boxed sets to take home. My sweet gourmand is beside herself as we went in one of the stores!

It was around lunch when we ended our tour around the Kitano district, we hailed a cab to take us to our next destination... an authentic Kobe steak lunch! Watch out for my next post!

I've updated this post to provide a link to ALL MY JAPAN POSTS!











Click here to read ALL my JAPAN posts.