The Former Foreign Settlement, or Kyu-Kyoryuchi 旧居留地 lies at the very heart of Kobe City, and is also where the city began its history as a major port in Japan. The Foreign Settlement was established post-1868, when Japan was forced to open Kobe (known to the foreigners as Hyogo) up as one of the 7 original Japanese treaty ports. Foreigners were allowed to establish residences and trade their wares in this strictly demarcated zone.
Today, the Former Foreign Settlement still retains more than a dozen buildings from the Treaty-Port era, and makes for a rather pleasant stroll. There are two sections to the settlement – the first is the Kobe Bund 海岸どり itself, which used to sit on the water, but due to successive land reclamation, no longer does. There are only four buildings from the Treaty Port era that survive on the Bund, but they provide a good sense of how it would have looked like.
Just behind the bund, is the foreign settlement proper, and this gallery takes the reader through a handful of the buildings that still survive. Most of them have been repurposed and put to a new use altogether, but the area surprisingly still retains its identity as the financial and trading core of the city.
To the East of the Former Foreign Settlement, we pay a visit to the Kobe Customs House and some remaining buildings in the vicinity.
Finally, as a means of transitioning into the next post on the Kitano Ijinkan District, we take a short trek up north, slightly off the Former Foreign Settlement to visit a couple of churches and the spectacular Meiji-era Hyogo Prefecture Guesthouse, once Government offices.