## Foreign influences in a historic district of Kobe
Situated at the foot of the Rokko mountain range is Kitano-cho, a small historic city district in Kobe that foreign merchants and diplomats once called home. Signs of their presence and influence remain.
You can reach the district by train and then on foot.
Kitano-cho is about a 15-minute walk from the Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe stations.
Following the opening of the Port of Kobe during the second half of the 19th century, the city and its surroundings became a hotbed of international trade. This mix of cultures has made Kitano-cho a fascinating historic area.
European design esthetics and Japanese architectural ideologies shaped the merchant mansions known as ijinkan, which are open to the public. Known as one of the best preserved ijinkan areas in Japan, its wide selection of unusual cafes, restaurants, and boutiques stores make it a favorite getaway for locals and tourists.
For a small fee, you can wander through the well-preserved houses and get an up-close-and-personal look at what life was like during this time of great international influence and trade.
Among the houses you should not miss are Weathercock House, which was built in 1909 by German merchant Gottfried Thomas, and Moegi House, an impressive two-story mansion built in 1903 by the American consul Hunter Sharpe.