Kobe was one of the first Japanese city's in which foreigners settled. Like Nagasaki and Yokohama, which are also port cities, Kobe had a large community of expatriates following the opening of the country in the mid-nineteenth century until 1940.
What remains of that community is primarily in Kitano-cho, the section of city at the foot of the Rokko mountains.
Today there are a handful of mansions and former consulates remaining that are now open to the public.
The area is also home to many restaurants, shops, cafes, churches, a Jain temple, synagogue and a mosque.
Uroko no Ie, pictured above right, and the Former Chinese Consulate are among the most beautifully preserved of the houses. The garden of England House is pictured below.
From JR/Hankyu/Subway Sannomiya Station, go out the north exit and walk up Kitanozaka Street. You are going in the right direction if you can see mountains in the distance. Cross Ijinkan Street and continue one more block to Kitano Street. Turn right and on your right is England House, Yokan Nagaya (French House), and more. Maps are available at most train stations. From the station, it is a 10-12 minute walk.
The houses cost either 300, 500, or 700 yen to enter. A three-house pass costs 1,300 yen, the nine-house pass costs 3,500 yen.
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