Kobe: City of Design


Using design to connect people and put the city in motion

Kobe has absorbed people, information, and produce from overseas countries since ancient times, receiving and fusing together a wide range of cultures to produce a culture of its own. From the opening of the port in 1868 until today this seaboard city has nurtured wonderful resources and attractive qualities, all of which are collectively referred to as “Kobe Culture.” In particular, these include its charming location, cradled as it is on the one side by mountains and on the other facing outwards towards the sea, a lifestyle embracing a liberal and free-spirited outlook, and manufacturing technologies such as those for synthetic shoes Western – style confectionary, and pearls.

After the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 Kobe’s characteristics and creative powers, which were derived from the abundant cooperative warmth of its people and the utilization of the native design skills the city possesses, became a source of admiration from others, provided the communal energy for the rebuilding tasks it faced, and assisted in the remarkable restoration of this city.

Kobe strives to be a city where people wish to live, a city that people want to visit, a city that is always progressing. Kobe, a City of Design where people enjoy happy lives, where they have planned the present and will design the future, a city connected with its people who themselves are steadily moving the city forward.





Kobe, always improving, a city of happy residents

Good design can stimulate and inspire. Harnessing the power of design is important for the promotion of tourism and is facilitated by drawing on regional resources, the careful management of a scenic hinterland, and the promotion of local industry. Design makes it easier to visualize and convey information about familiar challenges in daily life such as the environment, effective disaster planning, crime prevention, welfare, and education. It also plays an important role in making people think about these matters and respond to such challenges. In Kobe, a City of Design, the visitor will discover a happy city invigorated through the power of design.




Creative Workshop Chibikkobe is a hands-on program in which children from Kobe have fun learning from professionals the knowledge and skills required for urban development.

Children and artists from Kobe are divided into three professions, those of chef, architect or designer, to plan together their ideal city based around the theme of food.



“Life is Creative” Exhibition

An experimental exhibition in which participants look at the issue of an ageing population from various perspectives. It was held to consider the future of an ageing society through themes including those of “senior media”, “old town”, and “food”. Some of the ideas discussed during the exhibition were put into practice. 



Ability Bib

The “Ability Bib” design derived from the lessons learned from the Great Hanshin Earthquake. There were four types of bib identifying different types of skill which would be useful in an emergency or disaster zone, ranging from professional skills to daily life-related skills: red for medical care and nursing, blue for language proficiency, green for daily life support, and yellow for specialized abilities. These bibs were used as a tool so that volunteers and people affected by disasters could easily let others know the skills they had and thereby possibly provided specific types of assistance for one another.   



Redevelopment of the Sannomiya City Center

The Sannomiya area, known as the “gateway” to Kobe, is a hub of activity and home to many railway lines. This area will be redeveloped to make it a more exciting space for its residents – more comfortable, more convenient, and with more hustle and bustle – under the themes “People-Oriented City” and “A Comfortable City.”



KOBE Parklet

Wooden decks are placed on top of former parking spaces to create places for relaxation and activity.



Gastropolis Kobe


Kobe is evolving as a new city of gastronomy

Kobe is an agricultural and fishing region surrounded by cultivated land and the Seto Inland Sea. This port city initially prospered mainly to trade, but with the passage of time it developed an original and diverse food culture. Based on the concept of“ Gastropolis Kobe 2020” ̶ a novel municipal strategy based on food that utilizes its acquired knowledge and skills ̶ Kobe has been working since FY2015 to transform itself into a world-renowned gastronomic center based on two principles: local program aiming for lifestyles that are derived from local food production and consumption, and international program intended for sharing Kobe cuisine with the rest of the world. In this way,




This city, located roughly in the center of the Japanese archipelago, has a population of approximately 1.54 million. Kobe is blessed with a wealth of resources such as a rich natural environment surrounded by the Rokko Mountain Range and Seto Inland Sea, city streets exuding an international atmosphere, hot springs, and sake distilleries. From a design perspective, looking at this city with its many diverse qualities ̶ including advanced manufacturing technologies, ample urban infrastructure and close human bonds formed during the period of regeneration following the earthquake ̶Kobe is emerging as a city of prosperity for all as well as offering new appeal and dynamism. Kobe was designated as a City of Design on October 16, 2008.