Originally known by the name , earliest written records regarding the region come from the Nihon Shoki, which describes the founding of the Ikuta Shrine by Empress Jingū in 201 A.D. For most of its history the area was never a single political entity, even during the Tokugawa Period, when the port was controlled directly by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kobe did not exist in its current form until its founding in 1889. Its name comes from , an archaic title for supporters of the city's Ikuta Shrine. Kobe became one of Japan's designated cities in 1956.
Kobe was one of the first cities to open for trade with the West following the end of the policy of seclusion and has since been known as a cosmopolitan port city. While the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake diminished much of Kobe's prominence as a port city, it remains Japan's fourth busiest container port. Companies headquartered in Kobe include ASICS, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Kobe Steel, as well as over 100 international corporations with Asia or Japan headquarters in the city such as Procter & Gamble and Nestlé.
During the Nara and Heian periods, the port was known by the name and was one of the ports from which imperial embassies to China were dispatched. The city was briefly the capital of Japan in 1180 when Taira no Kiyomori moved his grandson Emperor Antoku to Fukuhara in present-day Hyōgo-ku. The Emperor returned to Kyoto after about five months. Shortly thereafter in 1184, the Taira fortress in Hyōgo-ku and the nearby Ikuta Shrine became the sites of the Genpei War battle of Ichi-no-Tani between the Taira and Minamoto clans. The Minamoto prevailed, pushing the Taira further west.
As the port grew during the Kamakura period, it became an important hub for trade with China and other countries, and in the 13th century, the city came to be known by the name . During this time, Hyōgo Port along with northern Osaka composed the province of Settsu. Later, during the Edo period, the eastern parts of present-day Kobe came under the jurisdiction of the Amagasaki Domain and the western parts under that of the Akashi Domain, while the center was controlled directly by the Tokugawa shogunate. It was not until the abolition of the han system in 1871 and the establishment of the current prefecture system that the area became politically distinct.
Hyōgo Port was one of the first ports to open for trade with Western countries following the Meiji Restoration and the end of the policy of seclusion in 1868. The region has since been identified with the West, and many foreign residences from the period remain in Kobe's Kitano area.
Kobe was founded on April 1, 1889, and was designated on September 1, 1956 by government ordinance. The history of the city is closely tied to that of the Ikuta Shrine, and the name "Kobe" derives from , an archaic name for those who supported the shrine.
During the course of World War II, Kobe was bombed with incendiary bombs by B-29 bombers on March 17, 1945, causing the death of 8,841 residents and destroying 21% of Kobe's urban area (see Bombing of Kobe in World War II). It is this incident that inspired the well-known Studio Ghibli film Grave of the Fireflies and the book by Akiyuki Nosaka on which it was based.
Following continuous pressure from citizens, on March 18, 1975, the Kobe City Council passed an ordinance banning vessels carrying nuclear weapons from Kobe Port. This effectively prevented any U.S. warships from entering the port, policy being not to disclose whether any warship is carrying nuclear weapons. This nonproliferation policy has been termed the "Kobe Formula".
On January 17, 1995 an earthquake measuring at 7.3 on the Richter magnitude scale occurred at 05:46 am JST near the city. Nearly 4,600 people within the city were killed, 240,000 were made homeless and large parts of the port facilities and other parts of the city were destroyed. The earthquake destroyed portions of the Hanshin Expressway, an elevated freeway which dramatically toppled over. Within Japan, the earthquake is known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake (or the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake). To commemorate Kobe's recovery from the 1995 quake, the city holds an event every December called the Luminarie, where the city center is decorated with illuminated metal archways.
Kobe was Japan's busiest port and one of Asia's top ports until the Great Hanshin Earthquake occurred. Kobe has since dropped to the fourth in Japan and thirty-eighth busiest container port worldwide (as of 2005).
Wedged in between the coast and the mountains, the city of Kobe is long and narrow. To the east is the city of Ashiya, while the city of Akashi lies to its west. Other adjacent cities include Takarazuka and Nishinomiya to the east and Sanda and Miki to the north.
The landmark of the port area is the red steel Port Tower. A giant ferris wheel sits in nearby Harborland, a notable tourist promenade. Two artificial islands, Port Island and Rokko Island, have been constructed to give the city room to expand.
Away from the seaside at the heart of Kobe lie the Motomachi and Sannomiya districts as well as Kobe's Chinatown, Nankinmachi, all well-known retail areas. A multitude of train lines cross the city from east to west. The main transport hub is Sannomiya Station, with the eponymous Kobe Station located to the west and the Shinkansen Shin-Kobe Station to the north.
Mount Rokko overlooks Kobe at an elevation of 931 meters. During the autumn season, it is famous for the rich change in colors of its forests.
Kobe has 9 wards (ku): 1. Nishi-ku : The westernmost area of Kobe, Nishi-ku overlooks the city of Akashi and is the site of Kobe Gakuin University. This ward has the largest population with 247,000 residents. 2. Kita-ku : Kita-ku is the largest ward by area and contains the Rokko Mountain Range, including Mount Rokko and Mount Maya. The area is well known for its rugged landscape and hiking trails. The onsen resort town of Arima also lies within Kita-ku. 3. Tarumi-ku : Tarumi-ku is a mostly residential area. The longest suspension bridge in the world, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, extends from Maiko in Tarumi-ku to Awaji Island to the south. A relatively new addition to Kobe, Tarumi-ku was not a part of the city until 1946. 4. Suma-ku : Suma-ku is the site of Suma beach, attracting visitors during the summer months. 5. Nagata-ku : Nagata-ku is the site of Nagata Shrine, one of the three "Great Shrines" in Kobe. 6. Hyōgo-ku : At various times known as Ōwada Anchorage or Hyōgo Port, this area is the historical heart of the city. Shinkaichi in Hyogo-ku was once the commercial center of Kobe, but was heavily damaged during World War II, and since Hyogo-ku has lost much of its former prominence. 7. Chūō-ku : literally means "center", and as such Chuo-ku is the commercial and entertainment center of Kobe. Sannomiya along with Motomachi and Harborland make up the main entertainment areas in Kobe. Chuo-ku also includes Kobe City Hall and Hyōgo prefectural government offices. Port Island as well as Kobe Airport lie in the southern part of this ward. 8. Nada-ku : Nada-ku is the site of Kobe's Oji Zoo and Kobe University. Nada is also well-known for its sake. Along with Fushimi in Kyoto, it accounts for 45% of Japan's sake production. 9. Higashinada-ku : The easternmost area of Kobe, Higashinada-ku borders the city of Ashiya. The man-made island of Rokko makes up the southern part of this ward.
As of 2004, the city's total real GDP was ¥6.3 trillion, which amounts to thirty-four percent of the GDP for Hyōgo Prefecture and approximately eight percent for the whole Kansai region. Per capita income for the year was approximately ¥2.7 million. Broken down by sector, about one percent of those employed work in the primary sector (agriculture, fishing and mining), twenty-one percent work in the secondary sector (manufacturing and industry), and seventy-eight percent work in the service sector.
The value of manufactured goods produced and exported from Kobe for 2004 was ¥2.5 trillion. The four largest sectors in terms of value of goods produced are small appliances, food products, transportation equipment, and communication equipment making up over fifty percent of Kobe's manufactured goods. In terms of numbers of employees, food products, small appliances, and transportation equipment make up the three largest sectors.
There are over 100 international corporations with East-Asia or Japan headquarters in Kobe. Of these, twenty-four are from China, eighteen from the United States, and nine from Switzerland. Some prominent corporations include Eli Lilly and Company, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Tempur-Pedic, and Toys "R" Us.
Kobe is the site of a number of research institutes, such as the RIKEN Kobe Institute Center for developmental biology and medical imaging techniques, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Kobe Advanced ICT Research Center, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center.
Other rail lines in Kobe include Kobe Electric Railway which runs north to Sanda and Arima Onsen. Hokushin Kyuko Railway connects Shin-Kobe Station to Tanigami Station on the Kobe Electric Railway. Kobe New Transit runs two lines, the Port Island Line from Sannomiya to Kobe Airport and the Rokko Island Line from JR Sumiyoshi Station to Rokko Island.
Osaka International Airport in nearby Itami and Kobe Airport, built on a reclaimed island south of Port Island, offer mainly domestic flights, while Kansai International Airport in Osaka is the main international hub in the area.
The city of Kobe directly administers 169 elementary and 83 middle schools, with enrollments of approximately 80,200 and 36,000 students, respectively. If the city's four private elementary schools and fourteen private middle schools are included, these figures jump to a total 82,000 elementary school students and 42,300 junior high students enrolled for the 2006 school year.
Kobe also directly controls seven of the city's twenty-eight full-time public high schools, while the remainder are administered by the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education. In addition, twenty-five high schools are run privately within the city. The total enrollment for high schools in 2006 was 43,400.
Kobe is famous for its Kobe beef and Arima Onsen (hot springs), while 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 the mountains (like Mount Rokkō, Mount Maya and so on) as well as the coast. Kobe is also known for having a somewhat exotic atmosphere by Japanese standards, which is mainly a result of its history as a port city.
The city is also 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 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 Hasketh Groom in 1903, and Japan's first mosque, Kobe Mosque, built in 1935. The city also 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.
|Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers||Rugby||Top League||Kobe Wing Stadium||1928|
|Orix Buffaloes||Baseball||Pacific League|| Skymark Stadium|
|Vissel Kobe||Football||J. League|| Home's Stadium Kobe|
Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium
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WHOASIF AND CHERYL!!
Kobe Steel to Establish Copper Sheet Processing Company in China to Meet Growing Demand for Electronic Applications
May 30, 2005; Tokyo, May 30, 2005 - (JCN Newswire) - Kobe Steel, Ltd. (TSE: 5406)(US: KBSTF) announces that it has established a wholly...