Kobe (Japanese: 神戸市; -shi) is the capital of Hyogo prefecture and an important port city in the Kansai district of Western Japan. It is situated between the country's financial capital Osaka and Kyoto. Its population is around 1.53 million as of 2008.
Kobe is next to the Seto Inland Sea. Its northern part, including Rokko mountain, is hilly. From Rokko district in its southern area through Rokko mountain to Arima Spa a ropeway runs. Trains including Shinkansen, highways and roads run along the Sea. Kobe port serves it. Many cargos and tankers use the port. A ship carries people between Shanghai and Kobe periodically.
On January 17, 1995 a very powerful earthquake hit the city. Earthquakes are more common in other parts of Japan, but not in Kansai so this earthquake was a surprise for everyone. More than 6,433 people were killed in Kobe and its neighboring cities, and many more were injured. Many buildings were destroyed.
Kobe was founded in 1868 as a port for serving foreign ships. In those day not every port in Japan was opened to the foreigners. Many foreigners lived in Kobe; westerners, Chinese, Jewish and Indian. Kobe is one of cities in Japan where China town is situated. People can find a Sinagogue and many Christian churches too. In the same way as Yokohama Kobe has been a place from where foreign culture was introduced into Japan.
Early history.
Already in the late 12th century powerful leader Taira no Kiyomori moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto to Fukuwara, nowadays Fukuwara district of Japan. He planned for it to serve as a trade and political center of Japan. Kiyomori relied his political influence on the trade between Japan and China. But his plan failed and Kobe stayed a small village during a long time.
Later history.
The area of Kobe was expanded and today it includes Mount Maya, Sumaura Park, Sumaike park with a good spa and the famous Arima spa. Arima spa is one of oldest spas in Japan, whose earliest record is found already in "Nihonshoki". Kobe is also famous for its Kobe beef, a very expensive meat delicacy.
The northern area of Kobe is an industrial area. There are many factories. Sake production in Nada district has been known from the Edo period. Nagata district in the southwest area of Kobe was a center of shoe production in Japan but production suffered because of destruction caused by the Earthquake.

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