Being the cosmopolitan center that it is, Kobe is one of the best cities for shopping in Japan. If you inquire with Japanese people about what to do in Japan, they’ll not only recommend the city’s high-grade wagyu beef, but they’ll also highlight Kobe’s luxurious character and its trendy face. With the commercial diversity of the city, you don’t always need to go for luxury in this port city, but if you wish to do so, it is easy to spend all the yen in your back pocket all within walking distance of your hotel.
Kobe is probably not your first destination in Japan, so by the time you get here you’ve probably become acquainted with the Japanese Shotengai or shopping street. Kobe is no exception to the trend and in this vibrant city, you can choose from several shotengai including Kobe Motomachi Shotengai, Sannomiya Center Gai, and Motoko.
Although these shotengai are found all over Japan, every city adds its own twist to these street shopping centers. In Kobe if you pay close attention, you will notice that its shopping arcades are adorned with interesting art both at crossing intersections and on the ground beneath your feet. These installations add a cultural touch to the shopping experience and make it more fun, especially if all you’re doing is window shopping.
For those travelers who appreciate the finer things in life and like to add a bit of luxury to their shopping bag, the place to be is Kyu-Kyoryuchi District which is also known as the Old Foreign Settlement of Kobe. The foreign consulates and trading houses of the 19th century have disappeared and in their place, the high-end global brands have taken over. GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, and Saturdays NYC, are but a few of the beautiful stores found in this stylish district of the city. If you want to get a taste of Japanese-style design and trends then take a peek inside the radiant Beams House store before leaving the district.
If the glitter of the Old Foreign Settlement is not for you, and you would rather hunt down some more unique fashion or rare vintage clothing, than skip Kyu-Kyoryuchi and head for the hip streets of Sakaemachi. This trendy neighborhood is home to a good range of vintage shops, cool coffee shops, and some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. We highly recommend a visit to the store Kapital Kobe where you can get your hands on really cool Japanese denim made in Okayama Prefecture.
For those who prefer to shop more accessible brands and at the same time enjoy a wide range of entertainment, we recommend Umie, the shopping complex at Harborland across the Kobe Port Tower made up of the Mosaic, the South Mall, and the North Mall buildings. With several eateries and even a ferris wheel on its grounds, it is a perfect shopping destination for families and big groups, or on rainy days.
Last but not least, if you want to shop till you drop in Kobe, then you must also add Kitano-cho to the list of shopping destinations. Big brand names are less common in this area, and instead the area from Jazz Street Kitanocho up to the narrow streets in between the Ijinkan or western-style mansions is filled with cute shops offering home accessories, fine glassware, and other unique gift items not found in other parts of the city.