About Kitano cho

About Kitano cho – Kitano-cho is a neighborhood in Kobe, Japan, that is well-known for its collection of Western-style homes that have been preserved in excellent condition. The neighborhood is also known as Kitano Ijinkan-gai. The region may be reached from the city center of Kobe quickly and easily by train or on foot, as it is situated on the northern slope of Mount Rokko.

Over 30 ancient homes designed in the Western style can be found in Kitano-cho. The majority of these homes were constructed during the Meiji period, which spanned the late 19th and early 20th century. During the period that Kobe was first being used as a port for international trade, the majority of these residences were constructed by businessmen and diplomats from other countries who had relocated to the city.

The architecture of the homes in Kitano-cho is a synthesis of western and traditional Japanese design elements. White walls, red tile roofs, and balconies are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the exteriors, while the interiors typically have high ceilings, huge windows, and beautiful woodwork.

A significant number of the historic homes have been repurposed as museums, art galleries, dining establishments, and coffee shops. Visitors may appreciate the one-of-a-kind ambience and history of Kitano-cho while also taking in the neighborhood’s renowned culinary, artistic, and cultural offerings.

A wide range of businesses, boutiques, and street sellers can be found in Kitano-cho, in addition to the old residences that are located there. The neighborhood is well-known for its lively environment and is a favorite destination for tourists from all over the world, as well as from the surrounding area.


History timeline of Kitano cho

Kitano-cho, also known as Kitano Ijinkan-gai, is a district in Kobe, Japan that is famous for its western-style houses, many of which were built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here is a brief history timeline of Kitano-cho:

  • 1868: Following the Meiji Restoration, Japan opened up to the rest of the world, and foreign merchants and diplomats began to arrive in Kobe. Many of them settled in the Kitano-cho area, which was close to the foreign settlements.
  • Late 1800s: The first western-style houses were built in Kitano-cho, mainly by wealthy foreign residents. The area became known for its exotic and luxurious houses and gardens.
  • 1923: A major earthquake struck Kobe, destroying many of the western-style houses in Kitano-cho. However, some of the houses survived and have since been preserved as historic landmarks.
  • 1970s: Interest in preserving the remaining western-style houses in Kitano-cho began to grow. The local government began to promote the area as a tourist destination, and efforts were made to restore and preserve the historic houses.
  • 1980s: Kitano-cho became a popular destination for domestic and international tourists, and many of the historic houses were converted into museums, galleries, cafes, and shops.
  • 1995: The Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe, causing extensive damage throughout the city, including in Kitano-cho. However, the district has since been rebuilt and restored.

Today, Kitano-cho remains a popular tourist destination and a unique cultural attraction in Kobe, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s fascinating history and international connections.

How to reach Kitano cho

To reach Kitano-cho in Kobe, you can take the train or the bus.

By Train: The nearest station to Kitano-cho is the JR Sannomiya Station. From there, you can take the Kobe City Loop Bus or walk to Kitano-cho. It is about a 15-minute walk from Sannomiya Station.

By Bus: The Kobe City Loop Bus is a convenient way to get to Kitano-cho. You can take the bus from Sannomiya Station or Shin-Kobe Station. The bus stops at various locations in Kitano-cho.

If you are coming from other parts of Japan, you can take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shin-Kobe Station and then transfer to a local train to Sannomiya Station.

I recommend using Google Maps or a similar app to plan your route and get up-to-date information on transportation options and schedules.

Highlights of Kitano cho

Kitano-cho is a beautiful historic district in Kobe, Japan, known for its charming Western-style houses, narrow streets, and scenic views. Here are some of the highlights of Kitano-cho that you won’t want to miss:

  1. Kitano Tenmangu Shrine: This historic shrine is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the god of scholarship and learning. The shrine is known for its beautiful gardens and architecture and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
  2. Kitano-cho Ijinkan (Foreign Residences): These Western-style houses were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Kobe was opened to foreign trade. These houses feature a mix of architectural styles, and many have been converted into museums, galleries, and cafes.
  3. Kobe Kitano Museum: This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Kitano-cho and features exhibits on the area’s development and the lives of the foreign residents who once lived there.
  4. Kobe City Museum: This museum showcases the history of Kobe from its earliest days to the present. Exhibits include artifacts from the city’s past and present, including its role in Japan’s early trade with foreign countries.
  5. Walking Tour of Kitano-cho: Walking through the narrow streets of Kitano-cho is a highlight in itself. The area is filled with beautiful architecture and stunning views of Kobe, making it a great place to explore on foot.
  6. Traditional Japanese tea rooms: There are several traditional Japanese tea rooms in Kitano-cho where you can experience the tea ceremony and enjoy traditional sweets and tea.
  7. Shopping and dining: Kitano-cho has several shops, cafes, and restaurants, where you can enjoy local and international cuisine, shop for souvenirs, and relax with a cup of coffee.

These are just some of the highlights of Kitano-cho, and there is much more to see and do in this charming district.

Do's and Dont's at Kitano cho

Kitano-cho is a historic district in Kobe, Japan, known for its beautiful Western-style houses and picturesque streets. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Kitano-cho:


  1. Respect the neighborhood: Kitano-cho is a residential area, so please keep noise levels to a minimum and avoid littering or damaging any property.
  2. Explore the area on foot: Kitano-cho is best experienced on foot, so take your time and enjoy the charming atmosphere of the district.
  3. Visit the museums: There are several museums in Kitano-cho, such as the Kobe Kitano Museum and the Kobe City Museum. These museums offer a glimpse into the area’s history and culture.
  4. Try the local cuisine: Kobe is famous for its delicious beef, so make sure to try it while you’re in the area. Other local specialties include seafood, sake, and desserts like the Kobe Pudding.
  5. Take photos: Kitano-cho is a beautiful area, so take plenty of photos to remember your visit.


  1. Enter private property: Many of the houses in Kitano-cho are private residences, so please respect the residents’ privacy and do not enter their property.
  2. Touch the exhibits: In museums and galleries, please do not touch the exhibits as they are often delicate and can be easily damaged.
  3. Ignore safety rules: When visiting a museum or historic house, be sure to follow any safety rules or instructions given by staff to ensure your safety and the safety of the exhibits.
  4. Litter: Please do not litter in the streets or parks of Kitano-cho. Keep the area clean and beautiful for others to enjoy.
  5. Disrespect local customs: As with any place you visit, be respectful of local customs and traditions. For example, it’s polite to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home in Japan.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can have a memorable and respectful visit to Kitano-cho.

Frequently asked questions about Kitano cho ?

What is Kitano-cho?
Kitano-cho is a historic district in Kobe, Japan, known for its well-preserved Western-style houses. It was once home to foreign merchants and diplomats who lived in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
What is the history of Kitano-cho?
Kitano-cho was established in the late 1800s when foreign merchants and diplomats began building homes in the area. These Western-style homes were built using a variety of architectural styles, including Victorian and Gothic. After the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, many foreign residents left Kobe, and the area fell into disrepair. In the 1960s, the Kobe City Government began to renovate the area, and it has since become a popular tourist destination.
What are some of the main attractions in Kitano-cho?
The main attraction in Kitano-cho is the Western-style houses, many of which have been converted into museums or cafes. Some of the most famous houses include the Weathercock House, the Moegi House, and the Uroko House. There are also several museums in the area, including the Kitano Museum of Art, the Kobe City Museum, and the Kobe Fashion Museum.
When is the best time to visit Kitano-cho?
The best time to visit Kitano-cho is in the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November), when the weather is mild and the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves are in bloom. However, the district can be visited year-round, and each season has its own unique charm.