Kobe is an excellent place to shop, especially if you're short on time since most of its best shopping destinations are clustered in the downtown core and within an easy walking distance. Get off the train at Sannomiya or Motomachi and you'll be met with a bewildering range of shops and goods – everything from the latest gadgets to fashionable clothing to antiques and oddities. Just wandering and window-shopping in this frenetic place is an experience not to be missed.

    Elsewhere in the city, you'll find a good range of things to buy in the lovely harbourfront shopping arcades at Kobe Harborland, which also has a fantastic range of entertainment and dining choices for families who want to make a day of it. Streets in and around the old foreign settlements have been refurbished and repurposed into classy boutique avenues, where seekers of the latest brand-name goods can find a luxe handbags, accessories and clothing.

    1

    Sannomiya

    Sannomiya is literally the hub of activity in Kobe, being the main connection point for nearly all the subway lines in the city. Its crowded streets are lined with department stores and shopping arcades, while the area under the elevated rail tracks connecting Sannomiya Station to Motomachi has two shopping arcades with a number of used-goods shops and stores geared towards the young and trendy.

    Heading south from Sannomiya Station, you'll find Flower Road, an attractive tree-lined street. Connecting Flower Road with Motomachi is Sannomiya Center, an arcade packed with boutiques, snack food shops and restaurants. Along Motomachi shopping street and in Motoko shopping arcade are some antique and souvenir shops stocked with traditional Japanese dolls and lacquerware.

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    photo by Aapo Haapanen (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Kyu-kyoryuchi (Old Foreign Settlement)

    This is a high-end fashion shopping area featuring boutiques and luxury shops selling brans like Prada, Fendi and Louis Vuitton housed in converted 19th century buildings. The area was once the center of foreign consulates and trading companies, but now it's the place to spend your hard-earned yen on top-quality brands and in upscale dining spots.

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    photo by 663highland (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe

    Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe is part of the Japanese Mitsui Outlet chain. This Kobe branch is set on the waterfront with great views out across the bay to the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. There are about 70 shops selling brand-name designer clothes and other trendy items at discount prices. Some 12 restaurants offer a pleasant meal and a break from shopping in a marina setting. To reach the outlet mall, take the train to Tarumi Station on the JR line.

    Location: 12-6 Kaigandori, Tarumi Ward, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 655-0036, Japan

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)78 709 4466

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    photo by othree (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Kobe Harborland

    Kobe Harborland district offers some of the best and most diverse shopping in Kobe outside of the Sannomiya area. Malls including Harbor Circus, Culmeni, and Kobe Hankyu department store are located here, as well as a host of superstores and specialty shops. The Mosaic complex has some unique shops to browse amid its attractive Mediterranean-style settings. After a day of shopping enjoy the promenade walkways, the movie theaters, cafes and amusement parks.

    Location: 1, Higashi Kawasaki-cho, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-0044, Japan

    Phone: +81 (0)78 360 3639

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    5

    AEON Mall Kobe Minami

    A waterside shopping complex for the whole family

    AEON Mall Kobe Minami is by a riverside on an island in Kobe, making visiting this massive mall a different thrill compared to other typical urban malls. One of the highlights here is the AEON Grocery store, a collection of household goods, craft beer and a wine corner, as well as an absolute treat of fresh, ready-to-eat foods.

    Other shops within AEON Mall Kobe Minami also cover all the bases of things you’ll need, from sports goods to fashion, and even a VR game corner where you can spend a few fun hours. Whether you’re visiting here by yourself or with family, AEON Mall Kobe Minami is a great spot to hit while in Kobe.

    Location: 2 Chome-1-1 Nakanoshima, Hyogo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 652-0844, Japan

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)7-8681-0511

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    6

    Sunshine Wharf Kobe

    Find great stores and services alongside stellar seaside views

    Sunshine Wharf Kobe is one of the city’s premier shopping and dining destinations. Situated in a scenic spot along the waterfront, it has a great variety of stores and services providing essential homewares and electronics, including Daiso, Yamada Denki and Sports Depo.

    There’s also a small selection of fast-food and family restaurants, ensuring you can catch a quick bite to eat during your visit. Sunshine Wharf Kobe also has the unusual claim to fame as home to the world’s longest monkey bars, spanning a remarkable 149.9 meters. Sunshine Wharf Kobe is just a 10-minute walk from Ōgi Station.

    Location: 1 Chome-2-34 Ogi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0027, Japan

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm

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    photo by Show ryu (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Motomachi Shopping Street

    A 5-block street packed with history, culture and fashion

    Motomachi Shopping Street is a famous shopping street in Kobe. It has a unique atmosphere that is both upscale and kawaii (the Japanese word for “cute”), with Western influences. You can find various stores selling art, bags, accessories, and sporting goods, as well as beauty salons, barbershops, and much more. When you need a break between shopping, grab a drink or food from one of the numerous bars, cafes and restaurants along Motomachi.

    The biggest event here is the bi-annual sales in February and September when you can snag fantastic deals. The street is located between the Kannai and Yamate districts. To reach Motomachi, take the Negishi Line to JR Ishikawacho Station or the Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai.

    Location: 2 Chome Motomachi, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa 231-0861, Japan

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    8

    Mint Kobe

    A landmark 12-floor mall in downtown Kobe

    Mint Kobe is a high-rise shopping mall in downtown Kobe. You can find almost everything here, from clothing and cosmetics to electronics and kitchenware. A movie theater complex on the top floor frequently showcases Hollywood movies in English with Japanese subtitles.

    After a couple of hours of shopping, you can relax in one of the mall's diverse eateries. Some restaurants offer excellent cityscape views from their window seats. The mall is located opposite the Sannomiya station, making it easily accessible no matter the weather or time of day.

    Location: 7 Chome-1-1 Kumoidori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0096, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)78-265-3700

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    photo by iloverjoa (CC BY 3.0) modified

    9

    Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets

    Great value shopping complex on the outskirts of Kobe

    Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets is an American-style shopping complex modeled after the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena. With 220 outlet stores to visit, grab your comfiest shoes and get ready for a retail adventure. Serious shoppers can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the outlets selling top Japanese and Western brands.

    There are also a couple of eateries when you need to rest and refuel. Make sure to bring your passport to enjoy tax-free purchases. The shopping complex is located north of Kobe and can be reached by automobile or a direct bus leaving Shin-Kobe Bus station. The bus journey takes approximately 50 minutes.

    Location: 7 Chome-3 Kozudai, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 651-1515, Japan

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)78-983-3450

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    photo by Hashi photo (CC BY 3.0) modified

    10

    Kobe BAL

    A stylish place to shop for exclusive brands

    Kobe BAL is a stylish shopping mall that combines fashion, beauty, lifestyle and food in the center of the Motomachi district in downtown Kobe. You can find top Japanese brands MUJI, Estnation, From First Musée, as well as international luxury brands such as Marni, Ron Herman, and Polo.

    There is also a handful of eateries where you can pick a coffee and snack or take a seat and enjoy a relaxed meal. To reach Kobe BAL, take the subway to Motomachi station and then walk east for 5 minutes.

    Location: 3 Chome-6-1 Sannomiyacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0021, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)78-391-0501

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler

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