Kitano-chō

Area in Kōbe

For generations of Japanese tourists, this pleasant, hilly neighbourhood is Kōbe, thanks to the dozen or so well-preserved homes of (mostly) Western trading families and diplomats who settled here during the Meiji period. These ijinkan (literally 'foreigners' houses') – strangely, though naturally, incongruent, as each is built in the architectural style of the owner's home country – are now mostly cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Two of the best-preserved homes, the red-brick Weathercock House, built in 1909 for a German trader, and the wooden, jade-green Moegi House, built in 1903 for the former US consul, are open as museums (9am to 6pm; combined ticket ¥650). Much of the original furnishings are intact – you'll see the lengths that expats a century ago went to in order to maintain their native lifestyles.


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