Kobe is the sixth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture; it is located on the southern side of the main island of Honshu, on the north shore of Osaka Bay and about 30 km west of Osaka. Perched on a hillside sloping down to the sea, Kobe is one of Japan's most attractive and cosmopolitan cities. It was a maritime gateway from the earliest days of trade with China and home to one of the first foreign communities after Japan reopened to the world in the mid-19th century.
Kobe's relatively small size makes it a pleasure for casual wandering and stopping in its high-quality restaurants and cafes. Kobe is most famous for its Kobe beef and Arima Onsen (hot springs). Notable buildings include the Ikuta Shrine as well as the Kobe Port Tower. It is well known for the night view of the city, from mountains such as Mount Rokko, and Mount Maya as well as the coast. Kobe is also known for having a somewhat exotic atmosphere by Japanese standards, which is mainly as a result of its history as a port city. The most pleasant neighbourhoods to explore are Kitano-cho, Nankinmachi Chinatown and, after dark, the bustling nightlife districts around Sannomiya Station.
The city is widely associated with cosmopolitanism and fashion, encapsulated in the Japanese phrase, "If you can't go to Paris, go to Kobe." The biannual fashion event Kobe Fashion Week, centred on the Kobe Collection is held in Kobe. The jazz festival "Kobe Jazz Street" has been held every October at jazz clubs and hotels since 1981.
Kobe is the site of Japan's first golf course, Kobe Golf Club, established by Arthur Hesketh Groom in 1903, and Japan's first mosque, Kobe Mosque, built in 1935. The city hosts the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, founded in 1870 by Alexander Cameron Sim, a prominent foreign cemetery, and a number of Western-style residences from the 19th century, in the Kitano area. Museums include Kobe City Museum and Kobe City Museum of Literature.
Kobe played host to the 1991 Men's Asian Basketball Championship, which was the qualifier for the 1992 Summer Olympics Basketball Tournament. Kobe was one of the host cities of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, hosting matches at Noevir Stadium Kobe (then known as Wing Stadium Kobe), which was renovated to increase its capacity to 40,000 for the event. Kobe was one of the host cities for the official 2006 Women's Volleyball World Championship.