Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture, approximately 30 km (19 mi) west of Osaka. The earliest written records regarding the region come from the Nihon Shoki, which describes the founding of the Ikuta Shrine by Empress Jingu in AD201. For most of its history the area was never a single political entity, every during the Tokugawa Period, when the port was controlled directly by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kobe did not exist in its current form until its founding in 1889. Its name comes from “Kanbe”, an archaic title for supporters of the city’s Ikuta Shrine.
Kobe became one of Japan’s 17 designated cities in 1956. Kobe was one of the cities to open for trade with the West following the 1853 end of the policy of seclusion and has since been known as a cosmopolitan port city. While the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake diminished much of Kobe’s prominence as a port city, it remains Japan’s fourth busiest container port. The city is the point of origin and namesake of Kobe beef as well as the site of one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Arima onsen.
As mentioned above, Kobe is most famous for its Kobe beef and Arima Onsen (hot springs). Notable buildings include the Ikuta Shrine as well as the Kobe Port Tower. It is well known for the night view of the city, from mountains such as Mount Rokko, and Mount Maya as well as the coast. Kobe is also known for having a somewhat exotic atmosphere by Japanese standards, which is mainly as a result of its history as a port city.
Kobe is the site of Japan’s first golf course, Kobe Golf Club, established by Arthur Hesketh Groom in 1903, and Japan’s first mosque, Kobe Mosque, built in 1935. The city hosts the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, founded in 1870 by Alexander Cameron Sim, a prominent foreign cemetery, and a number of Western-style residences from the 19th century, in the Kitano area. Museums include Kobe City Museum and Kobe City museum of Literature.
Most of the 1957 romantic drama ‘Sayonara’ takes place in Kobe. The city is the setting of much of the Studio Ghibli film ‘Grave of the Fireflies’.
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