Kitano-cho in Kobe

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  • Kitano-cho in Kobe

    Kitano-cho in Kobe

  • Kitano-cho In Kobe

  • Residential Area in Kitano-cho Kobe

    Residential Area in Kitano-cho, Kobe

  • Kazamidori no Yakata (Weathercock House) in Kitano-cho Kobe

    Kazamidori no Yakata (Weathercock House) in Kitano-cho, Kobe

  • Sculpture at Kitano-cho Plaza Kobe

    Sculpture at Kitano-cho Plaza, Kobe

  • Moegi-no Yakata (Old Sharp Residence) in Kitano-cho Kobe

    Moegi-no Yakata (Old Sharp Residence) in Kitano-cho, Kobe

  • Kitano-cho in Kobe

    Kitano-cho in Kobe

  • Camellia Japonica in Kitano-cho Kobe

    Camellia Japonica in Kitano-cho, Kobe

  • Cactus Opuntia Ficus Indica in Kitano-cho Kobe

    Cactus Opuntia Ficus Indica in Kitano-cho, Kobe

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Facts & Figures

Kitano-cho, one of the major tourist attractions in Kobe, is a historical district at the foot of the Rokko mountain range known for its over 30 well-preserved western-style houses. 20 of these are open to the public. European and American traders settled in this area after Kobe opened its port for foreign trade. These old houses, dating back to the early 20th century, are now recognized as Japan’s National Important Cultural Properties. Many of these buildings, known as Ijinkan - Former Foreign Residences, like the Thomas House (Kazamidori no Yakata), Moegi House, French House (Yokan Nagaya), etc… are accessible by the public and housing museums, local businesses, art galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Best Ryokans in Kobe Experience the Ultimate Japanese Hospitality at a Kobe Ryokan.
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This beautiful residential neighborhood is built on a steep mountain, which offers you great views over the city. You can compare this location a bit with the hilly city of San Francisco. Due to the high density of foreigners and international businesses in this area, you will find here many religious buildings like the Kobe Mosque (the oldest in Japan), a Jain temple, a Synagogue, and a Catholic Church. My tip: Come here in the evening when the streets are less crowded and enjoy this unique atmosphere.

  • Western Style Houses (Ijinkan):
  • Opening Hours (differ a bit per house) - usually 9:00/10:00 am to 5:00/6:00 pm
  • Admission Fee - 300 - 1000 yen (Adult), will be cheaper if you buy a discounted ticket to visit multiple houses
  • Kobe Kitano Museum:
  • Opening Hours - 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • Closed - every month on the 3rd Tuesday
  • Admission Fee - 500 yen (Adults), 300 yen (Children)

My tips for local activities

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The Western-style buildings in Kitano-cho were constructed in the late Meiji (1868 - 1912) and early Taisho (1912 - 1926) eras. After the opening of the Port of Kobe for international trade (second half of the 19th century) foreign merchants and diplomats needed more space and got permission to build new houses in the slopes above the city. Two well-known architects created the guidelines for the construction of the Ijinkan (Former Foreign Residences), which were the British Alexander Nelson Hansell (1857 – 1940) and the German Georg de Lalande (1872 - 1914). Originally more than 300 houses were constructed, but only 30 have survived till today. In 1980 the area got the status of an - Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings - by the Japanese government.


Map of Japan

Kitano-cho is located in central Kobe Chuo-ku (ward) at the Rokko mountain range.

How to get to Kitano-cho?

  • 10min from Sannomiya Station served by JR Kobe Line
  • 15min from Shin-Kobe Stations served by JR Kobe Line

Sightseeing spots in Kitano-cho


Weathercock House (Kazamidori-no-yakata) - The weathercock on the rooftop is the symbol of Kitano-cho. The house was built in 1909 by a wealthy German Trader with the name Gottfried Thomas (1871 – 1950). It has the status of a National Important Cultural Property.

Moegi House - The house was built in 1903 for Hunter Sharpe (1861 - 1923) the Consul-General of the United States. In 1980 it was designated as an important cultural asset of Japan.

English House - It was built in 1907. Inside the colonial-style western house, you will find exclusive antique furniture. It is definitely worth a visit.

Ben's House - The house has the status of a Cultural Property of Kobe. It was built in 1902 and was renovated in 2019. Ben's House is one of the oldest Western-style buildings in Kitano-cho.

French House (Yokan Nagaya) - It was an apartment building for people from overseas. It dates back to 1904. The display of nice French furniture and equipment in the art nouveau style by Emile Galle (1846 - 1904) and the Daum brothers Antonin (1864 - 1930) and Auguste (1853 - 1909) is the highlight here.

Rhine House - The two-story wooden house was constructed in 1915 by J.R. Drewel. Check out the exhibition on the second floor about the Ijinkan buildings (Former Foreign Residences) and the Kobe Earthquake in 1995.

Platon Decorative Arts Museum - The former foreign residence is full of artwork and household goods from Italy.

more Western-style buildings - Visit also the Uroko House and Uroko Museum, Former Chinese Consulate, Yamate Hachiban-kan, and Kitano Foreigners Association.

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)


Kobe Matsuri Festival (3rd Saturday and Sunday in May)
Enjoy stage dance performances and many parades at the Flower Road. It is the largest festival in the Hyogo Prefecture.

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