Kobe is located 30 minutes away from Osaka by train, yet the city's atomosphere is totally different. It's one of the three major port cities besides Yokohama and Nagasaki. Since the opening of the port 150 years ago, Kobe has been influenced significantly by people around the world, and therefore, it has an international touch. The city is rather compact with the Rokko mountain range in the north and the ocean in the south. You can also enjoy world famous Kobe Beef for lunch.
At your hotel in Kobe/Osaka or JR Kobe/Osaka station
Enjoy herbs & flowers and the wonderful view overlooking the city. You'll go up to the garden entrance by airy gondola; on the way you can see great waterfalls from the above.
Mosaic Mall is a restaurants/shops complex facing the port. From the deck you will have a typical view of Kobe including Kobe Port Tower, Kobe's landmark. Also 45 min. sightseeing boats are available at the port.
Nankinmachi Chinatown is always crowded with tourists looking for good Chinese street food.
Strolling around the town is a lot of fun. A long shopping arcade of various kinds of shops is also located in the neighborhood.
Westerners built homes on the hillside called Kitano when they moved to Kobe and started their businesses.
Many houses were built in the late 1800's to early 1900's in colonial style; today some of them are open to public as museums.
Ikuta Jinja Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines having a history of 1,800 years.
Behind the main hall, there is a small forest that has 500 to 1000 year-old comphor trees.
Often times you can see Shinto priests giving special blessings to people in the main hall.
Japanese Rice Wine called Sake was originated about 2000 years ago. Nada is the largest Sake brewing district that produces 30% of all Sake in Japan. One of the leading brewing companies called Hakutsuru has a Sake museum next to their factory. You can learn how Sake is made by looking at a short video for each process. At the end of the tour, you are welcome to have Sake tasting for free!
If you like animals and birds, this might be the place to visit. It is not an ordinary zoo, and there are no lions or elephants. The Animal Kingdom keeps rare animals such as capybaras, sloth, alpaca, giant tortoise in additional to small and medium sized animals so that the visitors can touch. The highlight is the eagle/hawk shows in a large indoor facility. The birds fly just over your heads!
At JR Kobe/Osaka station
City of Kobe runs a sightseeing bus called city loop bus, and you can get on/off at any stop you like.
One day pass is available at 660yen/person. You can visit all the sites listed below except for sake brewing district. (To visit Sake brewries, you need to take a train for 20 min. and walk 10 min.)
Following is a sample itinerary, and you can choose 3 or 4 spots according to your interests:
1. Sake Brewery
Kobe is one of the most famous sake making areas in Japan. (Approx. 30 % of all sake produced in Japan is made here.) We can visit Nada sake-brewing district to learn about sake making and enjoy a free sake tasting.
It is located in the center of the city. Ikuta Jinjya Shrine is only ten minute walk from the station; it has a long history of about 1800 years.
If you like to have Kobe beef, I can take you to a nice and small restaurant. Lunch is usually available at 3,500-7,000yen depending on the size and quality.
Sannomiya also has a long shopping arcades with hundreds of shops of all kinds.
The place is always crowded with people for Chinese food. Just walking around there is a lot of fun.
You can choose to eat in Chinatown instead of eating at a Kobe Beef restaurant. A set menu is 1,000-1,500yen.
4. Harbor Area
From the chinatown, a 10 minute bus ride will take you to a harbor area. There you can enjoy a bay cruise (45min.for 1,200JPY), shopping & eating at open air Mosaic Mall.
5. Kitano Foreign Residence Area
When foreigners first came to Kobe, they had residences in the hill top Kitano area. Some of the residences are restored and open to visitors today with small fees.
6. Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden
Enjoy herbs & flowers and the view overlooking the city from the garden (330meters above the ground). You can see Nunobiki Waterfalls when you go up to the garden by airy gondola. The site is very large and is recommended to nature lovers.
7. Kobe Animal Kingdom
If you like animals, this might be an interesting place for you. You can touch most of the animals and birds there, and the highlight of the kingdom is an eagle & hawk show that flies over your heads. You can also enjoy beautiful hanging plants in the indoor buildings.
Hotel pick up in Kobe/Osaka or at JR Kobe/Osaka station
Transportation for you and guide during the tour
Lunch for you and guide (If you are having Kobe Beef, guide will eat elsewhere.)
Entrance fee (Bay Cruise 1,500yen, Kitano Foreign Residence 350-1,050yen, Nunobiki Herb Garden including airy gondola 1,800yen, Animal Kingdom 2,000yen including train fare, Nada Sake brewery, free entrance, 400yen train fare)
I accept a tour request until 2 days prior to the tour date and a group of 2 persons up to 10 persons.
Most of the spots can be reached by city loop bus (700yen for one day pass) except for Nada Sake Brewing area and Kobe Animal Kingdom. To Nada and Animal Kingdom, we need to take trains.
We can visit 2 spots in the morning, have lunch and 2 in the afternoon. In the case of starting a tour at your hotel in Osaka, please choose 3 spots for an 8 hour tour. Please cover guide's transportation fees during the tour as well as yours.
If you wish to have a Kobe beef lunch, please inform me beforehand.
Mari packed a lot in one day and it was amazing. I am so glad we decided to use a guide for our first day. I wasn't worried about getting lost or not knowing the best things to see, so I was able to just enjoy the day. We can't wait to go back and see the sights again.
Hi Melissa, Thank you so much for your tour review! I enjoyed having your family for a full day tour. Your children were very nice and polite. With your help I could manage a tour smoothly. Mari
Mari is an outstanding guide with Great knowledge and personality. A total pleasure to be with. Took us to all the interesting sites and explained all the details we needed. We strongly recommend her to anyone who is interested in a private guide for Kyoto.
Thank you Arun for the review. It was my pleasure to show you around the eastern part of the city which is the most traditional. I had a wonderful time with your family!
We have spent 2 days touring Kyoto with Mari. It has been a fabulous experience. Mari has been delightful and we all have had such a fun time together. Her English is excellent and since she has spent a lot of time in the US, there has been no language barrier. It has been an experience traveling all around Kyoto by train, subways and buses.. it was so nice exploring the area in this manner rather than a bus tour and seeing things through a window. We have had a myriad of questions about what we were seeing and Mari answered all of them with enthusiasm, patience and a lot of detail. We enjoyed eating where “ locals” ate and Mari gave a lot of thought on the meal recommendation. When I booked the tours with Mari, she was very flexible with our requests and had a well planned tour for us. She made our visit to Kyoto extra special. We felt like we were traveling around with a friend.
Dear Shelly, Thank you so much for a nice review so quickly. I enjoyed touring with you and talking about a lot of things. I even wish I could have more! I sometimes encounter new things during the tours, and the tour with you was one of those. Thank you, Shelly!
Where do we begin with Mari? Mari is such a wonderful and knowledgeable guide who took us around the sights of Osaka and Kyoto. During the Osaka tour we saw, in great detail, Osaka Castle, Shitenoji Temple and the Dotombori. The time and care taken to talk about the history of the first two places made the tour so much more exciting. I should also point out that we travelled with a party of 6, including 3 teenage boys and a 9 year old in a wheelchair. Mari looked up elevator spots and warned us when there wouldn't be any, she kept us informed every step of the way and by the end the boys wanted to call her Aunty Mari :). In Kyoto we saw the magnificent Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine, the Arashiyama Bamboo forest and the Golden Pavilion. We couldn't believe this we're possible, but these were even more incredible than the sites in Osaka. One of our accidental finds was a little grandma local ramen shop who served the perfect bowl of noodles to keep us going. I should mention to bring solid walking shoes as there's a lot of walking. We averaged 28,000 steps per day. However, you don't really notice it when you're in the spirit of the day. There's also quite a bit of train catching so there's opportunities to sit down as well. All in all we loved Mari and had a fantastic day, we would highly recommend her to anyone coming to Osaka or Kyoto :)
Dear Jacqueline, I appreciate your detailed tour review! I truly enjoyed 2days with you. I also learned a lot from your family being so nice and caring to each other. The Golden Pavilion looked the best yesterday in the sun, and the reflection in the pond was almost perfect as we had little wind; you were very lucky! I hope you will continue to enjoy traveling in Japan.