Wednesday, March 29, 2017

[Japan 2016] Kobe: Nankinmachi / Kobe Chinatown + Motomachi Shopping Street


Photo By: Elinchow

Rise and shine! We started our fifth day of our 7D6N Japan Trip in Osaka early this morning. Our plan for the day was to visit the cosmopolitan port city of Kobe. Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture, famous for its Kobe Beef and crisp pure Sake. To be honest, Kobe Beef was also the main reason why we decided to include Kobe into our travel itinerary.

Before setting off, we dropped by the Lawson store below our Airbnb apartment to grab some quick breakfast.

Tuna Onigiri

Price: 108 Yen

Tuna Sandwich


Hokkaido Yogurt Drink

Premium Boss Latte

We bought Tuna Onigiri, Tuna sandwich, Hokkaido yogurt drink and Premium Boss Latte from Lawson and went back to our apartment to eat them. I became addicted to Onigiri, or Japanese rice balls because they are just so delicious! Furthermore, they are really filling and cheap.

After a simple and quick breakfast, we headed out to Osaka-Namba Station, to take a train to Kobe city. There are three main train stations in Kobe - Sannomiya Station, Kobe Station and Shin-Kobe Station.


Surprisingly, the busiest train station in Kobe is not Kobe Station but Sannomiya Station, which is conveniently located right at the center of the city. Most of the attractions in Kobe are located near Sannomiya Station. It is a main terminal for people visiting Kobe city as it provides immediate access to Kobe's main business, shopping and entertainment areas.

Sannomiya Station is served by five different railway companies, consisting of several stations. Some stations are simply named Sannomiya and others are named Kobe-Sannomiya Stations. However, both Sannomiya and Kobe-Sannomiya Stations are located in the same location.


The most direct way to get from Osaka-Namba Station to Sannomiya station in Kobe is by the Hanshin Namba line operated by the private Hanshin Electric Railway. At Osaka Namba Station, the Hanshin Railway share the same ticket gate with the Kintetsu Railway and departs from Platform 3.

The Hanshin Electric Railway will arrive at Kobe-Sannomiya Station not Sannomiya Station. By Rapid Express train, it will take 44 minutes to get from Osaka Namba Station to Kobe-Sannomiya Station. Please note that the Hanshin Electric Railway is not covered by the JR Pass. The one way fare from Osaka Namba Station to Kobe-Sannomiya Station is 410 Yen.


Arriving at Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Station, we headed straight to Nankinmachi, which is Kobe's Chinatown. Nankinmachi is located 10 minutes walk away from Kobe-Sannomiya Station and 5 minutes walk away from Motomachi Station.


Sannomiya is the largest commercial and shopping district in Central Kobe. It is a popular place for shopping, dining and entertainment. Most of the attractions in Central Kobe are located within close proximity to each other, so it is possible to cover them by foot.

Sannomiya is an excellent place to shop and dine, especially for people who have limited time in the city. The streets are lined with large departmental stores, shops and restaurants. It is a great place for shop for fashion, but less for souvenirs.


Nankinmachi is one of the three largest Chinatown in Japan, along with Yokohama's Chukagai and Nagasaki's Shinchi Chukagai. Just like any other Chinatown in the world, Nankinmachi is a popular tourist attraction, famous for its shopping and dining.


Nankinmachi is made up by four main streets converging at a small central plaza. Hundred of shops, restaurants, food stalls and Mahjong clubs lined both sides of the streets, most of them with facades and architecture reflecting traditional Chinese style.


Most restaurants and food stalls in Nankinmachi serve traditional Chinese food like dim sum, dumplings and buns. Besides Chinese food, you will also find several restaurants serving Japanese and Western cuisines in Nankinmachi.

There is always a queue in front of a famous restaurant or food stall. But ironically, the most delicious food found in Nankinmachi is probably not from China. Located in the central plaza, there is a food stall selling the legendary Kobe Beef. We did not get to taste the Kobe Beef here because we were saving our stomach space for a more expensive Kobe Beef feast later. But if you are traveling on a limited budget, this is probably the cheapest way to sample this wonderful meat in Kobe.


Actually, truth be told, most of the dishes found in Nankinmachi are not authentic Chinese dishes. Most of them have often been Japanized to suit local tastes. But even so, they still taste delicious.

Nankinmachi is fairly compact and you can actually walk through the streets in an hour or two. Enjoy strolling down while you grab a bite from the many food stalls along the streets. The atmosphere is lively, with the streets packed with both Japanese and Chinese. But it was not overly crowded, probably because we visited on a weekday. So I really recommend visiting on a weekday if you can as it can be extremely crowded on weekend.


Feeling hungry, we decided to grab a quick bite from one of the food stalls along the street.

Steamed Pork Bun

Price: 300 Yen

We bought steamed pork bun or simply known as Bao from the store. The Bao was served fresh and piping hot from a steamer. It was steamed until puffy filled with aromatic pork and is best to be enjoyed warm from the steamer.

Peking Duck Wrap

Price: 500 Yen

We also bought Peking Duck Wrap from the same store. This is basically just Peking duck, vegetables and sweet sauce wrapped in a rice paper wrapper. The duck meat is roasted to prefect crispiness with most of the fats rendered out during the roasting process. It was delicious and my husband love it very much. However, I did not like it as much as my husband. I actually find the sauce a little too sweet for my liking.


Please note that there are no rubbish bins in Nankinmachi, so make sure you bring your trashes with you before you leave this place.


In the center of Nankinmachi, you will find a small plaza decorated with colorful chinese lanterns. Sitting in the middle of the plaza is a pavilion and a Chinese temple dedicated to Guan Yu. Surrounded by stone cravings of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, the pavilion is a popular place for tourists to take a souvenir photo.

The small plaza is a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists. You can take a seat and enjoy your food in the pavilion, but it is always crowded with people. It is not easy to find a seat in the pavilion unless you are really lucky.


There are three archway in Nankinmachi. You will find Chang'an Gate on the East entrance, Xi'an Gate on the west entrance and Nan'lou Gate on the South entrance. The North entrance has no gate and is guarded by a pair of lions.


The North entrance of Nankinmachi is connected with the Motomachi Shopping Street, a fully covered shopping arcade lined with over 300 shops and restaurants, including shops that are centuries old. 


Established in 1874, the entire street is 1.2 kilometres long and has a fairly relaxed atmosphere.


It is one of the best place to get some gifts and souvenirs for yourself and your family and friends back home. If you interested to know what I bought at Motomachi Shopping Street, please read my "Huge Beauty + Snacks Shopping Haul" post.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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