A bit of Europe in Kobe – Kitano Ijinkan Foreign Residences (Part 1)

We’ve been publishing a lot of travel info on great countryside locations in Hyogo, so this time I thought I would write about a beautiful spot right here in Kobe.

The Ijinkan, or Foreign Residences, are the perfectly-preserved homes of wealthy foreign traders and diplomats who lived in Kobe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are many Ijinkan, and it’s impossible to visit all of them in one day, so I’ll go over a few of the highlights.

So, how can you a visitor decide which Ijinkan to visit? Let me start by suggesting three adjacent Ijinkan with a handy-dandy shared discount pass.

First off, the Austrian House. This is a reproduction of Mozart’s actual house sponsored by the Austrian Embassy. The house is heavily Mozart-based, with statues of the master himself, as well as relics and artifacts from his time period and a rare piano.

Here’s the imposing exterior of the Austrian House.

A prominent statue of Mozart greets you inside.

Look at these elegant, yet somehow spooky, folks from another era!

Learn about Mozart in the Mozart room.

The Denmark House, sponsored by the Danish Embassy, will be fun for kids and a certain kind of geek – it’s all about history’s most beloved explorers, Vikings! On the second floor, you can learn about fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen.

The exterior of the Denmark House is bright and cheerful.

A gigantic Viking boat occupies the building, and for some reason it’s populated with cartoon characters.

You can check out real Viking tools and garb!

The Dutch House (Kaori-no-Ie Oranda-kan) is the historical home of the Dutch consul-general. The luxuriously-appointed rooms allow you to imagine the diplomatic life in “the olden days”, and you can also take a class on creating your very own original perfume using fragrances from the Netherlands.

The Dutch House has a floral exterior.

Lovely room.

Check out this old-fashioned bathroom! I want a bathroom just like this.

Here’s the consul-general’s office. Not everyone’s home office has a national flag in it.

If your stomach grumbles while you’re sightseeing, you’re in luck. In the Kitano area there are a large number of restaurants featuring high-quality international cuisine.

On this trip, I visited the Swiss Chalet for lunch, and it was sublime. There are a variety of lunch courses available, but if you look around the restaurant, you’ll see all the other customers enjoying one dish: the cheese fondue. Oh, cheese. Living in Japan, I sometimes get a little cheese-starved, and it’s hard to find something that passes for actual cheese in a typical Japanese supermarket.

Well, the cheese fondue at the Swiss Chalet is excellent. It’s made with Swiss cheese and white wine, and the subtle wine flavor and aroma made it the best cheese fondue I’ve ever had. Of course, bread refills are unlimited.

Dinner at the Swiss Chalet is fairly pricy, but lunch isn’t out of reach – there’s a cheese fondue and salad set at 1500 yen for the budget-conscious.

For this trip, we decided to spring for the full lunch course. At 2700 yen, it includes the cheese fondue, a main dish (beef, pork, or fish), a salad, dessert, and coffee or tea.

The restaurant is easy to spot.

The interior is old-fashioned.

Here’s the bowl of happiness!

Ah, bliss!

My colleague ordered the beef entree.

I chose the fish – it was delicious!

A salad is also included.

Dessert was ice cream with berries.

Check out Part 2 of this post here!

How To Get There

Kitano Ijinkan
From Sannomiya Station: Walk north on Kitanozaka Street for approximately 15 minutes.

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