After an American “diplomatic” mission strong-armed Japan into opening its borders in the mid 19th century, some lucky port towns exploded with wealth brought in through foreign trade. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Kobe.
Chinese merchants were some of the city’s most frequent visitors, and it wasn’t long before they set up their own community in the center of the city. Today, that community remains as Nankinmachi, sometimes called Kobe Chinatown. The name comes from the city Nanjing, which has served as the Chinese capital multiple times throughout history.
As with all Chinatowns around the world, Nankinmachi is a hub of good eating. Although not the biggest of its kind, there are a lot of nice shops and restaurants packed within its relatively small space. It’s a great place to sample steamed dumpling buns, Chinese noodles, and spicy Szechuan cuisine.
If you visit during Chinese New Year, you’ll find the whole place alive with fireworks, wild traditional dances, and colorful costumes galore. Shortly after the lunar new year, the streets are lined with traditional red lanterns. For a window into authentic Chinese culture (with a hint of Japanese flavor) head on down for a lunch or dinner in Kobe’s authentic slice of Nanjing.