Kobe Landmark: Sorakuen Garden

Located in Kobe, a port town in Hyogo prefecture known for western architecture and quality beef, Sorakuen is a spot of tranquility in the middle of the bustling city. As most Japanese gardens were, Sorakuen was once the property of Kobe mayor Kodera Kenkichi but opened to the public in 1941. The garden is best known for their vermillion maple foliage in autumn and bright azaleas that bloom from April to May. Much like the city of Kobe, the architecture in Sorakuen is a mix of western and Japanese Meiji era influences. Most of the buildings burnt down in World War II air raids except Kodera Stable, which is still standing today. 

If you’re planning on visiting Sorakuen, the garden is closed on Thursdays (or Fridays if Thursday is a national holiday) and entry is 300 JPY. Worked up an appetite? Here are three nearby restaurants. 

Restaurant Wine and Italian dining at Quarto

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A few minutes walk from Sorakuen is Italian restaurant Quarto. This classy venue prides itself on authentic pizza and natural wine. On weekdays, take advantage of the pizza or pasta lunch sets, which come with both a salad and a drink (no lunch sets for weekends).  For dinner, splurge on domestic black roast beef alongside fresh pasta and pizza of your choice alongside Italian cured meats. This 6 plate course must be reserved for two or more persons, and has a seating time limit of 2 ½ hours. 

Quarto is open from 11:30am to 3pm (L.O 2pm), 5pm-10:30pm (L.O 9:30pm). Lunch sets start from 1,500 JPY (on weekdays), dinner courses start from 4,000 JPY.

Restaurant Homemade udon noodles at Hirohiro

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Hirohiro specializes in homemade udon, the thick, chewy wheat-flour noodle. The lunch sets come with a small bowl of udon so no matter what you order, you’ll always have a taste of their delicious noodles. Oyakodon (900 JPY), tender chicken and seasoned egg on rice, is another one of Hirohiro’s specialties and one of Japan’s favorite comfort foods. For a simple yet elegant meal, Zaru Udon (830 JPY), or plain cold noodles, is a great way to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into the fresh, homemade noodles. On a cold evening, Udon Suki (2,100 JPY), udon served in a hot pot topped with ingredients of your choice, such as sliced beef, will warm you up quickly. 

Hirohiro is open from 11am to 3pm, 5pm to 9pm, closed Mondays.

Restaurant Kobe Beef Kisshokichi Sannomiya

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A trip to Kobe isn’t complete without trying Kobe beef. Wagyu steak sourced from Hyogo-raised black cattle, Kobe beef is a marbled, tender delicacy best eaten in its city of origin. Kisshokichi specializes in affordable courses. The weekday beef dinner course (3,980 JPY) comes with Kobe beef stew and a Kobe beef steak, along with side dishes. For a special occasion, opt for the beef comparison course (9,800 JPY) which comes with multiple different cuts of Wagyu Kobe beef.  

Kobe Beef Kisshokichi Sannomiya is open from 11am-3pm, 5pm to 9pm everyday.

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