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Kitano-cho (k쒬, Kitanochō) is a city district at the foot of the Rokko mountain range where many foreign merchants and diplomats settled after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. More than a dozen of the former mansions, known as Ijinkan, remain in the area and are open to the public as museums.

Most of the houses charge an admission fee between 550 to 750 yen, while combination tickets are available to see multiple houses. The entire district is pleasant to walk through and offers a variety of cafes, restaurants and boutiques, making it a favorite among young Japanese couples.

Below is a list of some of the more interesting houses:

England House

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 750 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The England house was built in 1907 and displays antique furniture and household items of the time period. The house has two ornately carved bars (which are open for business on Sundays and holidays from 17:00 to 25:00). The second floor houses a collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia including a replica of Sherlock Holmes' room.

Yokan Nagaya (France House)

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The Yokan Nagaya was originally built in 1904 as an apartment catering to foreigners. It is furnished in ornate French furniture and artwork and includes a few examples of antique brand goods such as a stained glass Tiffany lamp and a set of Louis Vuitton trunks.

Ben's House

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
Ben's House was built in 1902 and is one of the district's oldest Western style buildings. It is the former home of Englishman Ben Allison, an avid hunter and world traveler, and the house is filled with stuffed animals, including tigers, a moose, a polar bear and other trophies collected from around the world.

Platon Decorative Arts Museum (Italian House)

Open: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: Tuesdays, December 30 to January 2
Admission: 700 yen
The Platon Decorative Arts Museum, otherwise known as the Italian House, is a foreigner's former residence built in the 1910s whose living and bed rooms, kitchens and servant quarters are filled with an overwhelming amount of household goods, artwork and ornaments. The house also features a small outdoor cafe serving Italian cuisine.

Former Chinese Consulate

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The Former Chinese Consulate was built in the late Meiji Period. Although generally Western, the architecture of the building has some distinctly Chinese elements, and the inside is furnished with Chinese-style furniture and household items. On display are various art pieces, some of which date back several centuries.

Kitano Foreigners Association

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The Kitano Foreigners Association was a members-only social club frequented by the foreign residents who moved to Kobe after the port was opened up to international trade in 1868. This former residence, built in the late Meiji Period, reproduces the salon, featuring a bar, lounge and old-style kitchen complete with a wood-burning hearth.

Yamate Hachibankan

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 550 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
Yamate Hachibankan is a Tudor-style mansion built in the late Meiji Period. It exhibits various sculptures and other artwork by Rodin, Bourdelle and Renoir, as well as collections of Buddhist relics and African tribal figures.

Uroko House and Uroko Museum

Open: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:00 October to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 1050 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The Uroko House is named after fish scales because of its overlapping shingled siding. Inside you will find a collection of antique furniture and household items in one part of the house and a small museum with paintings by Russian modern artists in the other. There are also nice views over Kobe from the museum's top floor.

Dutch Museum and Fragrance House

Open: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 January and February)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 700 yen (also available as part of a combination ticket)
The Dutch Museum once served as the residence of the Dutch Consul General, and now displays Dutch furniture and household items from past decades. Part of the house is devoted to fragrances, including a gift shop selling scented soaps and perfumes and a workshop where visitors can make their own original perfumes.

Getting there and around

Kitano-cho is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from either Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe Stations.

How to get to and around Kobe

Hours and Fees

Various combination tickets for different sets of houses are available which include entry to 2-8 houses and range in cost from 650 to 3000 yen. The combination tickets are available at participating houses and ticket desks around the district.

Hotels around Kobe

Top rated in Kobe
Budget:
    • Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland
      Luxury
      Located at the waterfront of Kobe Harborland, Hotel La Suite offers spacious rooms with ocean views and a spa bath. It features concierge service, a French restaurant and massage treatments. Free Wi-Fi/wired internet and free videos on demand are available in the rooms. This hotel was selected as one of Top 25 Hotels in Japan by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award 2013. Luxurious rooms come with a large flat-screen TV, a DVD player and extra long beds. Bathrooms have a TV and a hot tub, some with sea views. Amenities include a bathrobe, a humidifier with aroma diffuser and Phytomer brand bath salt. Guests at La Suite Kobe can lounge on comfortable sofas on the rooftop terrace. The hotel offers laundry and baby-sitting services. Bicycle and laptop rentals are available, and a free internet-PC is provided at the lobby. Creative French cuisine is presented in a decor of soft carpeting and wide windows at restaurant Le Coeur, while cafe Grand Blue serves a wide range of drinks and light meals. Restaurant Kokoro offers contemporary Japanese cooking inspired on traditional dishes. Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland is a 4-minute walk from Minato-Motomachi Station. It's only a 3-minute walk from Kobe Tower, and a 6-minute stroll from Meriken Park. Kobe Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
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    • Galo Hostel Kobe
      Budget-friendly
      Galo Hostel Kobe is located within a 3-minute walk from JR Shin-Kobe Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. There are 2 different bus stops within a minutes' walk from the property, each with buses departing to Sannomiya, Motomachi and Maya Cable Station. All rooms have air conditioning. Bathroom and toilet facilities are shared. There is a shared kitchen and lounge area at the property. There are several convenience stores and a small-scale supermarket within a 2-minute walk from the property. Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum is just a 2-minute walk from the property. Nunobiki Herb Garden Ropeway, Bottom Station is a 10-minute walk from Galo Hostel Kobe, while Nunobiki Falls and Kitano Ijinkan-Gai are a 15-minute walk away.
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    • Nakanobo Zuien (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Set in the Arima Onsen district of Kobe, Nakanobo Zuien (Adult Only) is 9 km from Mt. Rokko and 21 km from Mount Maya. Popular points of interest around the property include Kinsengen and Kittebunka Museum. Guests can make use of massage services. Free shuttle service to and from Arima Onsen Station is available. An Asian breakfast is served daily at the property. Guests can enjoy a meal at the in-house restaurant, which specialises in Japanese cuisine. Spa and wellness facilities including a hot spring bath and a sauna are at guests' disposal during their stay at the ryokan.
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    • Arima Onsen Taketoritei Maruyama
      Luxury
      Taketoritei Maruyama is a non-smoking Japanese-style accommodation featuring natural hot spring baths for private use and free Wi-Fi throughout the property. From its hilltop location a 15-minute walk from JR Arima Station, it offers sweeping views of Arima Onsen. Guests at Maruyama Taketoritei can privately unwind in a hot spring bath, or relax with a massage treatment. Facilities include a souvenir shop and drinks vending machines, while a free shuttle service is available to/from Arima Station. Air-conditioned rooms feature a seating area with a tatami (woven-straw) floor and a low table with seating cushions. Some rooms offer beds, while others have traditional futon bedding. All rooms are equipped with an LCD TV, yukata robes and a fridge. Guests can choose a Japanese or Western breakfast, while a Japanese course is served for dinner. All meals are served at the dining area. The property is a 10-minute walk from the Arima Onsen area. Osakafs Umeda station is a 55-minute bus ride away.
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    • Kobe Guesthouse MAYA
      Budget-friendly
      Set within 3.6 km of Kobe Center for Overseas Migration and Cultural Interaction and 9 km of Noevir Stadium Kobe, Kobe Guesthouse MAYA offers rooms with air conditioning and a shared bathroom in Kobe. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The property is 23 km from Onsen-ji Temple and 23 km from Myoken-ji Temple. The area is popular for hiking, and bike hire is available at the hostel. Emba Museum of Chinese Modern Art is 15 km from Kobe Guesthouse MAYA, while Mount Rokko is 21 km away. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 8 km from the accommodation.
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    • Oriental Hotel
      Luxury
      Overlooking the beautiful Kobe Harbour, Oriental Hotel offers luxurious accommodation in the heart of the historic Kyu-Kyoryuchi area. Guests can work out at the free-use fitness centre, or relax with beauty massages at the on-site salon. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. Rooms with chic d?cor are fitted with stylish furnishings, and feature a flat-screen TV, a fridge and an electric kettle. The en suite bathroom includes a bath tub and free toiletries. Most rooms boast views of either the harbour or the city. The 24-hour front desk at the Hotel Oriental offers luggage storage services for free. In-room massages can be arranged at an extra charge. A range of items like a DVD player, humidifier and iron can be borrowed from the reception. A laptop can be rented for a fee. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from both JR Sannomiya and Motomachi stations. Shin-kobe Shinkansen (bullet train) Station is a 5-minute drive away. Kobe City Museum is situated right next to the hotel, and Meriken Park can be reached within a 5-minute walk. Main Dining by the House of Pacific serves sophisticated Western dishes, while Kanbe offers delicately prepared sushi. Teppanyaki can be enjoyed at Steak House Medium Rare, and The Bar J. W. Hart lets guests savour cocktails with the gorgeous harbour views.
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    • Br?cke Arima KOBE
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kobe, 50 metres from Hosenji Temple, Br?cke Arima KOBE provides accommodation with a restaurant, private parking, a bar and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers ticket service, and luggage storage for guests. With a shared bathroom, rooms at the guest house also offer free WiFi. Guests at Br?cke Arima KOBE can enjoy a continental or a vegetarian breakfast. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Philatelic Culture Museum Arima, Kobe, Tenjin Gensen and Zuihoji Park. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 18 km from Br?cke Arima KOBE.
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    • Hyoe Koyokaku
      Luxury
      Boasting large open-air hot-spring baths, Hyoe Koyokaku is only a 6-minute walk from Arima Onsen Train Station. The traditional rooms at Hyoe Koyokaku Hotel feature Japanese futon beds, tatami (woven-straw) floors and shoji paper screens. Each comes with a satellite TV and private bathroom. The hotel is a 15-minute drive from Rokko Mountain. The Takarazuka Revue and Kobe Sanda Premium Outlets are a 30-minute drive away. In addition to its various shared-use 'kinsen' red-water hot-spring baths, the ryokan offers 2 'kinsen' red-water hot spring baths that can be reserved for private use at a fee. Balinese massages, aromatherapy and facial treatments offer further relaxation. A Japanese multi-course meal is served in either the guestrooms or at the restaurant for dinner. Guests can start their day with a buffet-style breakfast at the on-site restaurant, which features various dishes and soft drinks.
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    • Musubino Koyado En
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Kobe, 50 metres from Gokurakuji Temple, Musubino Koyado En features accommodation with a bar, private parking, a shared lounge and a garden. With a terrace, the 2-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The hostel has family rooms. All rooms will provide guests with a wardrobe and a kettle. Guests at the hostel will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kobe, like hiking and skiing. Popular points of interest near Musubino Koyado En include Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Onsen-ji Temple and Arima Toys and Automata Museum. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 18 km from the accommodation.
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    • Arima Grand Hotel
      Luxury
      Boasting an open-air hot springs bath and spacious garden, Arima Grand Hotel is located a 10-minute walk away from Arima Onsen Station. Free WiFi is available in all rooms. Free private parking is also available on site. The entire property is non-smoking, while guests can smoke in the designated smoking area. All air-conditioned rooms come with a flat-screen TV, hairdryer and a mountain view. For guests' comfort, slippers and free toiletries are provided. Some rooms include a private bathroom. A seasonal outdoor pool, various spa and wellness facilities are available at a surcharge. Guests can enjoy the public hot springs bath free of charge. There is also a hot springs bath that is available for private use upon prior reservation at an additional fee. Arima Grand Hotel is situated a 40-minute car ride away from Kobe city and a 25-minute car ride away from Rokko Mountain Snow Park. This accommodation can be reached from Kobe Airport by a 30-minute drive. Mt. Maya is a 35-minute car ride away.
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