With a population of 1,511,335, Kobe is comparable to Philadelphia in size. Kobe is also a city of diversity, with 43,000 foreign residents from 106 countries. It is in the process of building an airport, but the Kansai International Airport is just 25 minutes away in nearby Osaka. Other major cities, such as Kyoto and Tokyo, are easily accessible by train.
Just like Philadelphia, Kobe has played a major role in its country’s history. Kobe is part of the Kansai region, along with Osaka and Kyoto. Kansai is the second most populated part of Japan. Before the capital was moved to Tokyo, Kansai was the heart of Japanese commerce, culture, and politics. Kobe became an international hub thanks to its port, which in 1868 became one of the first Japanese ports to open up to international trade. As a port city, it has quite a few multicultural treasures: its Nankin-machi neighborhood is one of only 3 officially recognized Chinatowns in Japan, while Kitano-cho at the base of Mt. Rokko in northern Kobe is famous for its Western style mansions. Modern Kobe is famous for its Luminarie—a December festival of lights that commemorates the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.