As part of my revue of the cities involved in hosting teams at the Rugby World Cup in 2019, I decided to look at Kobe, Japan’s sixth largest city.
The Port of Kobe opened in 1868 and adjacent to the port, a foreign settlement was established for the influx of people and cultures from around the world to Kobe.
These new residents played a significant role in the development of industries and commercial ventures in Kobe, in particular heavy industries such as steel making, shipbuilding and machinery. They also brought other elements of Western culture and created new influences for fashion, architecture and cuisine. It was not only Western culture that took hold here, Kobe boasts a vibrant and sizeable Chinatown as well. Although devastated by an earthquake in 1995, Kobe has since rebounded and rebuilt itself through the dedication and spirit of its citizens.
Internationally, Kobe has been indelibly identified with Kobe beef, but in Japanese rugby, the name Kobe conjures powerful images of the first champions of the professional Top League, the Kobelco Steelers. The team was founded by a Kobe-based steelmaking firm in 1928, and has maintained a strong winning tradition across both amateur and professional rugby in Japan throughout the years.
Kobe’s waterfront vistas are truly spectacular. The Arima Hot Springs, which are the oldest hot springs in Japan, enjoy a high reputation. Near Kobe Misaki Park Stadium are the giant Hyogo Buddha statue, and the Testujin 28-go (Gigantor) monument which symbolizes Kobe’s recovery from the effects of the 1995 earthquake, and the revitalization of the local economy that has taken place since then.
Every summer, the Port of Kobe Fireworks Festival is held, and Kobe’s night sky is illuminated by the colorful and spectacular visual effects created by around 10,000 fireworks. In winter, the Kobe Luminarie is held to commemorate the victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, and to celebrate Kobe’s recovery from the earthquake.
One thing I want to try in Japan is Kobe beef, famous throughout the world for its superb quality. Finally, the Nadagogo district is home to numerous sake breweries that continue to produce great-tasting sake, making this Japan’s leading sake-producing region.
From food, culture and sport, Kobe has a lot to offer any visitor.