Kobe (kō´bā), city (1990 pop. 1,477,410), capital of Hyogo prefecture, S Honshu, Japan, on Osaka Bay. One of the leading Japanese ports, it is also a major industrial center and railway hub. It is part of a transportation network, which includes express trains and highways, that links it to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. It has shipbuilding yards, vehicle factories, iron and steel mills, sugar refineries, and chemical, rubber, and food-processing plants. A cultural center, Kobe has several colleges and universities and many temples and shrines. Since 1878 the city has included Hyogo (formerly Hiogo), an ancient port that was prominent during the Ashikaga period (14th–16th cent.) and regained importance after it was reopened to foreign trade in 1868. Kobe was heavily bombed during World War II but was rebuilt and enlarged, with much commercial building taking place on landfill in Osaka Bay. In Jan., 1995, Kobe suffered a devastating earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people. Much of the port was destroyed; total damages were estimated at over $100 billion.

Kobe is highly esteemed as a town that is easy to live in for its non-Japanese residents. The city has a long history as a port town where various cultures have come together to create a rich international flavor. Due to Kobe’s wide range of industries and outstanding business environment, many foreign-affiliated companies are located here. The beautiful natural surroundings and sophisticated townscape are also very attractive.

History

Located almost at the center of the Japanese archipelago on the Seto Inland Sea, Kobe has developed along with the opening of the Port of Kobe in 1868. A Foreign Settlement that formed near the port became the doorway by which foreign cultures entered Japan. This settlement also played an important role in bringing a stylish and modern atmosphere to the entire city.
At the same time, various industries began taking shape at the Port of Kobe. Western clothes, furniture, cakes and shoes as well as heavy industries such as marine transport, industrial machinery, shipbuilding and the iron and steel industries appeared one after another, spurring on the local economy.

Population

Population: 1,544,120 (as of May 1st, 2012)
Registered foreigners: 43,830 from 126 countries (as of June 30th, 2012)

Climate

Generally mild all year round with an average temperature of 16,8 C° and an annual rainfall of 1,624.5 mm(as of 2011)

Tourism

Kobe is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Japan, with 18,490,000 visitors (as of 2011) annually. There are many attractive sightseeing spots in the city including Mt. Rokko covered with magnificent greenery, the Suma coast for sun bathing, the port for boating, Arima Hot Springs famed for its natural hot springs, and amazing shopping areas such as the Old Foreign Settlement and Harbor Land.
Various events are held in Kobe throughout the year including the fabulous “Kobe Luminarie” that lights up the street with illuminated arches as far as the eye can see, “Kobe Festival” that includes a parade through town and the Chinese New Year Festival held in China Town.

Outstanding location with an enormous business market

The City of Kobe is one of the core cities in the Kansai economic bloc and maintains Japan’s second largest economy. The Kansai area’s economy exceeds the GNP of Canada at approximately 93 trillion yen. With a gross city product of approximately 6.558.700 million yen (as of 2009), Kobe has roughly 73,000 business establishments located within the city, clear evidence of Kobe’s economic magnitude.

Kobe has a population of approximately 1.53 million residents and is surrounded by an enormous concentration of markets including the Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, etc.) with a population of 24 million. In addition, Kobe is also connected with the island of Shikoku and its population of 4 million via the towering Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

The high concentration of foreign-affiliated companies is one of the major characteristics of Kobe’s economy. Many of the 73,000 business establishments within the city are active in the wholesale, service, and manufacturing industries. Of this number, roughly 200 enterprises are foreign-affiliated. Nestle, the food manufacturer, Procter and Gamble, manufacturer of daily necessities and chemical products, and other global enterprises have headquarters here in Kobe and contribute greatly to the local economy.

Although the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in January 1995 devastated a substantial portion of the industries in Kobe, restoration was remarkable and highly evaluated both from abroad and at home. Ten years after the devastating earthquake, the municipal government and private sectors of Kobe are now working on shifting from a heavy industry-base to an intensive intelligence-based structure, in seeking the further development of Kobe’s economy.

Traditional Local Industries and Advanced Industries

Along with Kobe’s traditional local industries, new industries utilizing IT, science and technology have a high potential in Kobe. The existence of a wide range of industries from global enterprises to small- and medium-sized manufacturers is one of Kobe’s strengths.

Industries in Kobe have developed around the port as the core, supported the city, and made a great contribution in the formation of Kobe’s unique culture and history. The range of companies is diverse including heavy industry such as shipbuilding, industrial machines, iron, and steel, with local industries including clothes, chemical shoes, pearls, Western furniture, coffee, Western cake and refined sake. All of these industries play an important role in vitality of the city.

Furthermore, to keep up with the times, industries related to public health, welfare and medical care have grown rapidly in recent years along with the Kobe Medical Industry Development Project being promoted by the city. Thus, a new industrial structure is being created by maintaining a balance between nurturing developing industries and adding more value to the existing ones. Kobe also aims at revitalizing industry even further by supporting venture businesses and by devoting its efforts towards a partnership with universities and research institutions.

Higashinada-Ward

Higashinada-WardHigashinada-Ward surrounded by the sea and mountains and the Sumiyoshi River running through the center, is a ward richly endowed by nature. After the earthquake, the population is increasing mainly with younger generations.

The ward enjoys the good cultural and educational environments, having six universities and a number of cultural facilities such as museums. There are “Uozaki-go” and “Mikage-go”, two out of Nadagogo (five Nada Brewing Areas: one of famous brewing areas in Japan), the presence of which also adds special atmosphere to the town.

The ward has multiple attractions stemming from the combination of old traditional culture such as the Danjiri (float) festival and modernity such as the seaside cultural town, “Rokko Island”.

Nada-Ward

Nada-WardNada-Ward is surrounded by the sea and mountains, Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya in the north and Osaka Bay in the south and has many cultural, educational and sport facilities. The western area of the ward where Oji Park is located is specifically designated as “Nada Bunkajiku (key cultural area)” and under development so that concepts for regional culture and sports will be presented to public. Furthermore, the central area is the well developed eastern subcenter and the Hamate area contains a brewing town called “Nishi-go”, one of the Nadagogo. Each area of the ward has its own characteristics and unique individuality.