Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, has a long history of welcoming outsiders to its shores – it was one of the first ports in Japan to open to trade in 1868 after two centuries of isolation. The results of this open-door policy remain today in its historic foreign settlement area that was once home to European traders, with many of the old mansions lovingly restored and serving as mini-museums or shops.

    A diverse city, Kobe has one of Japan’s largest foreign populations, a bustling Chinatown, and numerous restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. Kobe's charms are both in its natural surroundings – backed by the beautiful Mount Rokko range – and a host of manmade wonders. The Kobe Port Tower, Port and Rokko islands were built up in major land reclamation projects, and the Akashi Kaikyo is the world's longest suspension bridge.

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