Kobe City Museum
Kobe’s history is the story of its ports. The city became well known after the opening of Kobe port in the Meiji Era, but the city was prosperous long before that. The port has moved, and the name has changed over time, from Owada-no-Tomari to Hyogo-Tsu to Hyogo port, but it has always been the focus of the city.
Hyogo has a naturally good port because it was on the calm Seto Inland Sea, and Wada cape and Mt.Rokko block the wind. In the Nara period (710-784), a famous priest, Gyoki, who also helped to build Todai-ji later, maintained Owada-no-Tomari. The port was important for trade with the capital, the western region and China.
Kiyomori Taira, who ushered in the golden age of the Taira family, aimed at the benefit of trade with Song. He shifted the capital to Fukuhara[*1], built a man-made island, and reconstructed Owada-no-Tomari in the years after 1161. In the trade with Song, Japan imported Song copper coins, books, cloth and medicine, and exported gold, silver, sulfur and swords. Song coins were also used in Japan at the time because Japan didn’t have its own coins.
Later in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), a priest of Todai-ji, Jugen, repaired it. Owada-no-Tomari came to be called Hyogo-Tsu. In 1401 during the Muromachi period (1338-1573), Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, the third shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, started the trade with Ming and established the base at Hyogo-Tsu. In the Edo period (1603-1868), the Kitamae Ships[*2], or trading vessels, came to the Japan Sea, Shimonoseki, and Hyogo-Tsu. Also, delegations from Korea and the head of a Dutch mercantile house in Nagasaki stopped at the port on the way to Edo. Hyogo-Tsu had been a flourishing port. About 20,000 people lived in Hyogo-Tsu in the later Edo period. However, Kobe port was opened in 1868 for the foreign ships visiting Japan and took its place as an important trade hub.
Today there are many places in Hyogo ward to remind you of the prosperity of the ancient ports. We have walked in Hyogo ward and visited some places related to this history. We also visited seven shrines and temples, each of which has one of Seven Lucky Gods[*3], since it was a practice to make a circuit of Seven Lucky Gods in the Edo period.
Click places on the map to see details.
1. Wada Shrine
2. Yakusen Temple
4. Shinko Temple
5. the Hyogo Giant Buddha
6. Fukukai Temple
7. Yanagihara-hiruko Shrine
8. Yanagihara-ten Shrine
9. Central Wholesale Market
11.Waymark Stone for stray children
1.Wada Shrine (Benten[*4])
When Kiyomori Taira built Hyogo-Tsu, there were many difficulties, so he invited a female God from Miyajima to Wada Shrine.
There is a pine tree in the shrine representing the myth of White Snake[*5].
|Address:||Kirido-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||2 minutes' walk to North from Wadamisaki station on Kobe subway Wangan line|
2.Yakusen Temple (Jurojin[*6])
Gyoki opened the temple in 746. In 1333, Emperor Godaigo got sick on the journey from Oki and had some holy water at the temple. The water cured him. The well is still in the temple.
|Address:||4-1-14 Imadezaike, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||15 minutes’ walk from Hyogo station on JR line|
3.Kiyomori-zuka: the Thirteen-storied Pagoda
The thirteen-storied pagoda is made of stone, and is 8.5meters tall. It was built in 1286. The pagoda was said to be the tombstone of Kiyomori Taira, but it was discovered that it was a memorial column when it was moved due to the reconstruction of a road in 1923. There is a statue of Kiyomori Taira next to the pagoda.
|Address:||Kirido-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||10 minutes' walk from Hyogo station on JR line.|
In the temple there is the grave of Saint Ippen[*9]. Marker is five standing stone balls. It is 1.95 meters tall and made of granite. It is thought that it was built around 1336-1392.
|Address:||1-1-62, Matsubara-dori, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||10 minutes’ walk from Hyogo station on JR line|
|Phone:||078-671-1958 (from 9:00 to 17:00)|
5.Nofuku Temple (Bishamonten[*10])
Nofuku Temple is known for the Hyogo Giant Buddha[*11]. There is also the Grave of Kiyomori Taira[*12], a monument of Joseph Hico[*13], and a memorial column of a clansman of Bizen who is the victim of The International Incident in Kobe[*14].
|Address:||1-39, Kitasakasegawa-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||500 meters’ walk from Hyogo station on JR line, 800 meters’ walk from Shinkaichi station on Kobe Kosoku line|
6.Fukukai Temple[*15] (Daikokuten[*16])
The temple was built by Takauji Ashikaga, the first shogun of Muromachi era. It was located at the west gate of Hyogo, so it is considered as a defence of Hyogo Castle. There is a big festival from January 9 to 11 every year and Ebisu Shrine, which is across from Fukukai Temple, also has a Toka Ebisu festival during the time.
|Address:||97, Nishiyanagihara, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||Close to Hyogo station on JR line|
7.Yanagihara-hiruko Shrine (Ebisu[*17])
The biggest festival of the shrine is Toka Ebisu. The festival is held for 3 days from January 9 to 11 every year. About 400 thousand people visit there. A big tuna and a yellowtail are dedicated by the Central Wholesale Market.
|Address:||5-20, Nishiyanagihara-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||5 minutes’ walk from the South exit of Hyogo station on JR line|
8.Yanagihara-ten Shrine (Hotei[*18])
Michizane Sugawara, who was a minister of Emperor Godaigo, was politically entrapped and sent away to Dazaifu (in today’s Fukuoka prefecture). He stopped by Wada Cape to avoid a storm on the way to Dazaifu. Yanagihara-ten shrine was built after his death. The shrine is said to help people to do well in their studies since Michizane Sugawara was especially famous for his good writing.
|Address:||1-12, Higashiyanagihara-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||8 minutes’ walk from the south exit of Hyogo station on JR line|
9.Central Wholesale Market
The market deals with seafood, meat, vegetables, flowers and more.
|Address:||1-1-4, Nakanoshima, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||Close to Chuo Ichiba-mae station on Kobe subway Wangan line|
The Tsuji, a crossing, was in the center of the town of Hyogo. There used to be a Fudaba, which means a governmental bulletin board at the crossing. That’s why it was called Fudaba-no-Tsuji (the crossing of the bulletin board).
|Address:||15 minutes’ walk from Shinkaichi station on Kobe Kosoku lined|
11.Way Mark Stone for Stray Children
The way mark stone has been in Minatohachiman Shrine, which was located at the east gate of the town of Hyogo where the traffic was busy. It worked like this: a parent who had a stray child put notes on the child’s appearance, name, age and address on the stone, and people who found the child brought him there or put notes on his name and address.
|Address:||1-4-37, Hyogo-cho, Hyogo ward|
|Access:||5 minutes' walk from Shinkaichi station on Kobe Kosoku line|