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Chloe’s Ultimate Travel Guide to Exploring Kobe in 1 Day

Header image of a statue of mother and child.

Exploring Kobe in 1 day is a relaxing way to get out of the busy cities of Japan. Kobe, a small but mighty city, is often overlooked on the tourist map. Don’t skip Kobe if you have time because this town has plenty of highlights and hidden gems to offer. With scenic hikes, lavender ice cream, and elegant kaiseki dinners to offer, Kobe presents unique experiences for active travellers and gourmands alike. Discover some treasurable moments by checking out my perfect 1-day itinerary to Kobe below. 

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Language: Spoken language is Japanese but most businesses understand some English. It’s highly recommended that you have your hotel address available in Japanese to show to taxi drivers. We found asking our hotel concierge to help us book reservations for taxis and restaurants was an effective way to make sure we got the reservations we wanted. 

Currency: the Japanese Yen 

Voltage: 120V. See my post Essential Items to Pack in your Carry-on for sturdy international adapters to get for your next trip to Japan. 

Major Train Station: Shin-Kobe Station

Major Airport: Best options are to fly into Osaka at Osaka Airport or Kansai International Airport then take the high-speed railway from the airport to Shin-Kobe Station. 

Getting There 

Small bridge spanning over a stream in Kobe.
A charming cute bridge in Kobe.

Check the Shinkansen schedule and take it to Shin-Kobe Station. The  train ride took only about 30 minutes from Kyoto if you’re departing from there. Automatic ticket machines and websites are efficient, but remember you can always ask the ticket office at the train station for assistance to get to where you need to go. This way, you know you’re heading to the right place and paid the right fare. 

The train system in Japan is definitely efficient, but it can get confusing pretty quickly on what fares you need to pay to ride a certain train and the number of tickets you need for that ride. For example, going from Kyoto to Kobe on the Shinkansen, we needed a regular fare ticket and an express ticket (so 2 individual tickets per person) to enter the Shinkansen gates (which I had no idea how to do until the ticket counter explained it all). 

You can also buy the infamous JR rail pass if you plan on travelling across Japan on their high-speed rail. Keep in mind that reserving a pass on their official site is simply a reservation. You still have to exchange it at the ticket office for the actual pass. See What is the Japan Rail Pass? for detailed information. 

What to See and Do 

Enjoy fresh pancakes and pottery

Start your day off by browsing for some local, handmade ceramic goods at the charming Kamagato pottery cafe. The owner sells homeware pottery and he also makes scrumptious matcha pancakes and beautiful lattes. The pancakes are delicate and fluffy without being bitter from the matcha: it’s a hearty, winning combo. Also, try out the dessert with ice cream, fresh fruits, tapioca balls, and jelly for a refreshing treat. Take a look at his official website Kamagoto The Shop to get a glimpse of what’s available in store. The site is in Japanese only but Google translate can give you a rough idea of what he offers. The ceramic mugs make for a great souvenir from Kobe. 

Pottery shop in Kobe.
Kamagoto pottery shop and cafe. The matcha pancakes are must-try and definitely pick up a ceramic mug as a souvenir.

Stroll in perfectly manicured gardens

Head to the Nunobiki Herb Garden for a ride up to the mountains in a cable car to visit the botanical gardens. You’ll get a great view of Kobe city as you make your way up the mountain and you’ll also get to admire the wild blooming cherry blossoms in the valleys below. At the top of the mountain, you’ll find a small perfumery museum showing the history of herbs and scents. You’ll also find a kitchen herb garden and explanations on how to use different herbs in your cooking to elevate a dish. 

Perfectly manicured flowers in all directions at the Herb Garden.

Then there’s the Glasshouse which is the show-stopper on the tour. A large greenhouse filled with exotic lilies, orchids, and a host of other flora, the Glasshouse also offers flower arranging and fragrance-making workshops. Take your time going through here as there is a generous display of flowers and also a lovely statue called Mother and Child sent from Terni, Italy as a gift. 

A gift from Terni, Italy. Statue is of a mother and child.
Lavender soft-serve ice cream.

Don’t forget to catch the bonsais and the fiddleheads growing all in a row. It’s a wondrous sight to be engulfed in perfectly manicured gardens of colourful flowers. Definitely grab a lavender soft serve when you’re at the tulip gardens and enjoy it under the hot sun with perfect tulips in the background. Then, for your descent, hike down from the trail (there’s always the option of taking the cable car back down instead) and spot the waterfall on the way. And don’t feed the wild boars! They’re aggressive and will harm you if you try to feed them. 

Other than that, enjoy the waterfall and hike all the way down. You’ll have worked up an amazing appetite for dinner. 

Hike down from the Herb Garden to catch a view of the waterfall.

Where to Eat 

Indulge in an elegant kaiseki dinner

Restaurant name: Umenohana Kobe-motomachi
Japan, 〒650-0024 Hyogo, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Kaigandori, 3番地 シップ神戸海岸ビル 15F
Website: https://umenohana-restaurant.co.jp/shop-list/

For a night in Kobe, I highly recommend a kaiseki meal at the Umenohana Kobe-motomachi. Kaiseki is a prix fixe tasting course where the menu features the freshest seasonal ingredients. The tasting course usually showcases 1 or maybe 2 seasonal ingredients in the whole menu and it’s astonishing to see how creative the chefs get with presenting one ingredient. 

The restaurant is located on the 15th floor of the Ship Kobe Kaigan Building (address listed above) so you’ll enjoy an elegant dinner with a view of Kobe. We had a delicious menu featuring tofu and soy products. There was tofu bean curd cooked fresh at the table, tofu on skewers, marinated cod as my main dish, steamed-egg chawanmushi, deep fried tofu in the shape of a scallop, deep fried tofu pouches, rice and mushrooms, and strawberry parfait for dessert. 

It. Was. Divine. 

A kaiseki meal is a cohesive way to end the day after you’ve hiked down a mountain and enjoyed pancakes for lunch. From matcha pancakes, to lavender ice cream in a picturesque garden on a mountain top, to a fine dining of kaiseki with a view, Kobe can be a hidden gem of goodness that’s perfect for a one day getaway. 

See my travel guide to exploring 1 day in Nara. Planning for more dream trips or bucket-list journeys? Check out my other travel guides for more tips and tricks on planning your ultimate dream getaways.


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