The district of Kobe Kitano is characterized by its many Western-style houses.
The interior of one of the European houses that are at Kitano (Kobe).
Credit: Stéphane D
A piece of Europe
For a long time, Kobe was the only port of entry to Japan for the rest of the world. In the nineteenth century, many foreigners, traders and diplomats lived there. Today, in the district of Kitano, their homes, in a purely Western-style, remain a vestige of that era.
The Kitano district is also called Kitano Ijinkan. This term, ijinkan, is a reference to the European-style houses that stil stand in this neighborhood.
Thirty European houses dot this neighborhood in the hills of the city, not far from Nunobiki park. Visit one of them and take a step back in time. Most are open to tourists and offer small activities. The house of Austria hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while the Dutch pavilion is dedicated to the Vikings.
Other mansions have been converted into restaurant or coffee shops, while retaining the specifics of their country of origin. Enjoy some cheese fondue in the Swiss Chalet, or drink a beer in an English pub... even if the prices are quite high.
Each house has its own style, making Kitano probably the most cosmopolitan area of Japan.