When I first arrived in Kobe (神戸), the fifth-largest city in Japan, I was shivering. It was snowing out of season, and while the flurries were so small they were hardly visible, I could certainly feel the frozen air. After arriving at the train station I met up with a friend of mine and we went about enjoying one of the main sites in town, Kobe Harborland (神戸ハーバーランド).
Kobe Harboland is a shopping district that was made on the site of a former freight yard. There you can find some nice shopping, dining, and entertainment, all at the waterfront. For shopping needs there are some high-class 100 yen shops (equivalent to $1 stores in the USA), regular stores you’d expect to see in a mall (clothing, electronics, etc.) and even a few anime shops like the Ghibli Store. For dining, there are places where you can sample the famous Kobe beef at a discounted price (depending on your timing, lunch rates are significantly cheaper than dinner) and there are many small restaurants that sell some of the delicious sweets (like ice cream and parfaits). For entertainment, there is a small amusement park outside with things like a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. In addition, there are also some the arcades where you can play for prizes. But be warned, I swear those games are rigged even worse then their American counterparts!
Since Kobe Harborland is a popular date location, they go out of their way to make sure everything is very nice and pleasant, even for just an afternoon stroll. I spent half a day there and certainly would not mind going back. However, for those who are on a time crunch and need to get moving very quickly, it may not be worth the stop. For business hours, different areas are open at different times, but in general most of the facility is open between 10 AM and 9 PM for most of the year. And the the shopping district is a right next to JR Kobe Station (神戸駅).