Foreign influences in a historic district of Kobe
Situated at the foot of the Rokko mountain range is Kitano-cho, a small historic city district in Kobe that foreign merchants and diplomats once called home. Signs of their presence and influence remain.
One of the main attractions in Kitano-cho is the famous Weathercock House, which was built in 1909 by German merchant Gottfried Thomas. This beautiful house showcases a combination of European design and Japanese architecture, reflecting the fusion of cultures that existed during that time. Visitors can explore the interior of the house and get a glimpse into the life of a wealthy foreign resident in Kobe.
Another interesting place to visit is the Dutch Museum and Fragrance House. This museum provides insights into the history of Dutch traders in japan and their influences on Japanese culture. Visitors can learn about Dutch furniture, art, and other artifacts that were brought to Japan during the trading period. The Fragrance House, located within the museum, offers a unique experience of smelling various scents that were popular during the Dutch trading era.
For those interested in architecture, the Moegi House is a must-visit. This impressive two-story mansion was built in 1903 by the American consul Hunter Sharpe. The house showcases a blend of Western and Japanese architectural styles, with its spacious rooms, high ceilings, and beautiful gardens. Exploring the Moegi House provides a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the foreign residents in Kitano-cho.
How to Get There
Kitano-cho is easily accessible by train and then on foot. From Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe stations, it is about a 15-minute walk to reach the district. The walk itself is pleasant, as it takes you through charming streets lined with historic buildings and beautiful gardens. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and take your time to enjoy the surroundings.
During the second half of the 19th century, the Port of Kobe was opened, leading to a significant increase in international trade in the region. Kitano-cho became a hub for foreign merchants and diplomats who settled in Kobe. The district flourished as a center of cultural exchange and economic activity, attracting people from various countries and backgrounds. Today, it remains a testament to Kobe’s cosmopolitan past.
Combination of European design and Japanese architecture
One of the distinctive features of Kitano-cho is the blend of European design aesthetics and Japanese architectural ideologies. The merchant mansions, known as ijinkan, showcase this unique fusion of styles. The ijinkan in Kitano-cho are among the best-preserved examples in Japan, offering visitors a glimpse into the architectural influences of the time.
The ijinkan houses are open to the public, allowing visitors to explore their interiors and learn about the lives of the foreign residents who once inhabited them. Each house has its own story to tell, with its unique architectural features and historical significance. Walking through the streets of Kitano-cho feels like stepping back in time, as you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone era.
Explore the well-preserved houses
For a small fee, visitors can enter the well-preserved houses in Kitano-cho and experience the grandeur of the past. The Weathercock House, built by German merchant Gottfried Thomas, is a prime example of the architectural beauty found in the district. Its elegant design and intricate details make it a popular attraction for tourists and architecture enthusiasts alike.
Another notable house is the Moegi House, built by the American consul Hunter Sharpe. This two-story mansion stands out with its Western-style facade and spacious rooms. The interior of the house is adorned with beautiful furniture and decorations, giving visitors a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the foreign residents of Kitano-cho.
In addition to the ijinkan houses, Kitano-cho is also home to several museums and art galleries. These establishments showcase the cultural influences brought by the foreign residents of the district. From Western art to Japanese crafts, visitors can immerse themselves in the diverse artistic expressions that flourished in Kitano-cho.
As you wander through the streets of Kitano-cho, you will also come across charming cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. These establishments offer a unique blend of international cuisines, local delicacies, and specialty products. Taking a break at one of the cafes and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea is a perfect way to soak in the ambiance of the district.
Kitano-cho is not just a historic district; it is a living testament to the multicultural heritage of Kobe. The district continues to evolve, with new businesses and residents adding their own flavors to the vibrant tapestry of Kitano-cho. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply someone looking for a unique experience, Kitano-cho has something to offer.
How to Get There
To reach Kitano-cho, you can take a train to either Sannomiya or Shin-Kobe stations. From there, it is just a short walk to the district. The train ride itself offers scenic views of Kobe and the surrounding mountains, setting the mood for your visit to Kitano-cho.
Once you arrive at either station, follow the signs or ask for directions to Kitano-cho. The district is well-known among locals, so finding your way should not be a problem. As you walk towards Kitano-cho, you will notice the charming streets and historic buildings that gradually come into view. Take your time to explore the district and soak in its unique atmosphere.
If you prefer to take a taxi, there are plenty available near the stations. Simply tell the driver that you want to go to Kitano-cho, and they will take you directly to the district. Taxis in Kobe are generally safe and reliable, making them a convenient option for those who prefer a door-to-door service.
Once you arrive in Kitano-cho, it is best to explore the district on foot. The narrow streets and pedestrian-friendly layout make it easy to navigate and discover hidden gems along the way. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk, as there is much to see and explore in this historic district.
In conclusion, Kitano-cho is a fascinating historic district in Kobe that showcases the foreign influences that once shaped the city. From the architectural beauty of the ijinkan houses to the cultural exchanges that took place within its borders, Kitano-cho offers a unique glimpse into Kobe’s cosmopolitan past. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or simply immersing yourself in a different cultural atmosphere, Kitano-cho is a must-visit destination. So, take the time to explore this charming district and discover the hidden treasures it holds.
Address And Maps Location:
Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken