Kobe’s Kitano Ijinkan-Gai 

Each month throughout 2020 the AJS-Q is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Brisbane Kobe Sister City relationship by highlighting aspects of Kobe. This month we are looking at Kobe’s Kitano Ijinkan-Gai 

Located behind Kobe’s CBD, in the leafy foothills of Mt Rokko, is the delightful Kitano Ijinkan-gai (foreign area).

It’s distinctive 19th Century western architecture, cafes, galleries, museums and boutiques, dotted along steep narrow streets and winding lanes, makes it a popular spot among locals and tourists.

The settlement was established in the 19th Century at the start of the Meji Era and with the opening of the Port of Kobe in 1868.

The City of Kobe quickly developed into an international hub and as trade and commerce flourished, so did the footprint of western architecture. Diplomats, merchants and traders from Europe, Britain and the United States constructed residences, trading houses, businesses, stores, churches and parks along cobbled streets. It wasn’t long before the area became a fashionable residential neighbourhood.

These days only a fraction of the settlement’s hundreds of original buildings still exist. However, of the 30 or so that do, most have been restored and several now house museums, galleries and cafes. Today the area is a homogeneous blend of old and new. Modern architecture sits comfortably next to century-plus old dwellings and trendy cafes overlook tiny English-style gardens.The area’s cosmopolitan feel, elevated location and proximity to downtown Kobe ensures it has remained a sought after neighbourhood.

Open everyday of the week (there is often live music and entertainment on weekends) this picturesque precinct with its rich, international history is the perfect spot to relax and experience the real Kobe. Wander the winding streets and lanes, enjoy the elevated leafy surrounds and catch glimpses of the city and the harbour below as you climb higher and higher up the hillside.There are also plenty of small stores, restaurants, bars and cafes to stop at between visiting the various museums and galleries.

Good news for those visiting Kobe is that the area is a leisurely stroll from both downtown Kobe and the shinkansen station.

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