The “Port Liner” is a driverless train, very frequent, which runs between Kobe Airport and the main railway station at Sannomiya. Its station (Port Terminal) is above and virtually part of the cruise terminal buildings and it offers a cheap and very convenient way of reaching the airport or the main train station at the end of a cruise. (The bullet train station is further inland and requires a change at Sannomiya).
Naka pier cruise terminal is right in the center of Kobe. Mostly used by smaller cruise lines and non turnaround cruises. You will be greeted by brass bands and traditional Taiko, or Japanese drums. It is located on the first two floors of the huge Kobe Meridian Park Oriental Hotel. The Oriental is an obvious choice for an embarkation or disembarkation stay.
The Port of Kobe is located by the base of Mount Rokko, right by the Kobe Port Tower. The tower has an observation deck that's a little over 90 meters high.
Printable map of Kobe to take along.
Printable map of Osaka to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Kobe is a scenic port city featuring a world-class international trade port, the lush green backdrop of the Rokko Mountains, and busy commercial and amusement districts.
The waterfront area called "Nadagogo" has the largest concentration of sake breweries in Japan. Here, expertly skilled sake breweries transform pure "miyamizu" spring water from Mt. Rokko and superior quality "yamadanishiki" rice into famous brands of sake.
Kobe's main attraction for the Japanese is its concentration of Western-style houses, some dating back to the days when Kobe was opened for foreign trade in 1868. Europeans who grew up in similar scenery may find them less fascinating.
Ijinkan (walking distance from either Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe stations) Kobe's number-one attraction is the Ijinkan or Barbarian Houses. These are 19th-century residences of Kobe's foreign traders, clustered in the Kitano area.
Kyu-kyoryuchi, near Motomachi station (Hanshin Line or JR Line). This is where foreign consulates and trading companies built their offices. Several 19th-century buildings have been converted into restaurants and shops. Notable buildings include Chartered Square, once the Chartered Bank branch and the 15th Building, once the American consulate. The area is also packed full of high-fashion boutiques like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Fendi.
Meriken Park near the harbor front has a poignant memorial to the devastating Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, which killed 6,433 people. Kobe Tower nearby is the unofficial symbol of the city and offers a viewing pavilion (¥600).
Fruit Flower Park, 35 min by bus from Sannomiya, Open daily is 10 AM to 6 PM (except on holidays). This park is surrounded by a lot of flowers and greenery. Many people hold their wedding ceremonies here every year. In spring, the park becomes even more beautiful as about 10,000 tulips bloom. The Hotel Fruit Flower is near the park, which is visited by many families.
The Naka Pier Terminal is served by two bus routes, the Kobe Port Loop and the Kobe City Loop. They are both one-direction routes running in the clockwise direction.
The Kobe Port Loop uses a standard size bus and serves the major Kobe stations: Sannomiya for JR and Shin Kobe for the Shinkansen train. It also goes to the Kanomeria terminal for the Kobe Port Liner for anyone from the Kobe Port Terminal.
The second loop is the Kobe City Loop. It is a (cheap) hop-on-hop-off serving the same transport stations as the Kobe Port Loop plus other Kobe attractions like Chinatown and the ropeway up Mount Ryokyo.
A one-day pass for both Loop lines is 600 yen. You can buy the pass at the information desk at the Naka Pier Terminal.
When you board a taxi, note that the vehicle's left rear door is opened and closed remotely by the driver. You are not supposed to open or close it by yourself. Furthermore, you are not supposed to tip taxi drivers, as the service is included in the price.
If you do not speak Japanese, or your destination is not a well known place, it is recommended to give your driver the precise address of your destination on a piece of paper or, even better, point it out on a map, since the Japanese address system can be confusing even to local taxi drivers.
It pays to compare your cruise line tours here.
Kyoto (30 min. by bullet train, 60 min. by bus)
Surrounded by rolling hills and containing many old shrines and temples, its history goes back 1,200 years.
There are traditional events such as the three major festivals, and the send-off bonfire. Traditional crafts and arts like Nishijin brocade and Yuzen and Kiyomizu pottery, and exquisite Kyoto cuisine can also be enjoyed.
Nara (90 min. by bus)
Even more ancient than Kyoto. The Nara area includes Nara Park, where groups of deer frolic with the tourists, Nishi-no-kyo with temples in the midst of a pastoral landscape, Ikaruga, famous for the Horyuji Temple, a mountain road winding through ancient burial mounds, Yamanobe-no-michi, Asuka, an area rich in the romance of a bygone age and many other places of charm and beauty.
Himeji (20 min. by bullet train, 60 min by bus)
Located in the warm, fertile Banshu Plain facing the Inland Sea, Himeji was a prosperous castle town. The famous Himeji Castle, White Heron Castle, is recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site and in Japan as a
national treasure. The city itself has many dignified historic sites unique to this castle town.
Osaka's (20 min. 60 min by bus) highlights include Osaka-jo and its surrounding park, Osaka Aquarium with its enormous whale shark, the Blade Runner night scapes of the Dotombori area and the wonderful Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses. But Osaka has more to offer than its specific sights; like Tokyo, Osaka is a city to be experienced in its totality, and casual strolls are likely to be just as rewarding as structured sightseeing tours.
The currency in Japan is the yen. It comes in denominations of ¥10,000, ¥5,000 and ¥1,000 notes, as well as ¥500, ¥100, ¥50, ¥10, ¥5 and ¥1 coins.
ATMs in Japan are becoming more useful, and most can be used to withdraw funds from overseas accounts. Post offices also offer ATMs. Major credit cards are accepted at a majority of stores and restaurants in large urban areas, but if you plan on spending any time in rural areas, be sure to carry sufficient cash. Japan is still very much a cash society and some stores, hotels and restaurants-regardless of location-refuse credit cards.
Don't tip, as it's considered rude!
Cafes which offer free WiFi for customers are springing up all over the country. Costs vary, with some coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi services and others charging by the hour for cable-enabled PCs
Shops and department stores in Japan are generally open daily, including national holidays (with the exception of New Year's), from 10:00 or 10:30am to 7:30 or 8:00pm. Some specialty shops are closed Sundays and national holidays. Department stores are sometimes closed one day a week on an irregular basis, but since closing days vary for each store, shoppers can always find stores that are open.
Public Holidays in Japan
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