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Customs in Kobe

Embrace Tradition:
Exploring Kobe's Rich Cultural Customs.

Immersing yourself in the daily life of Kobe is like diving into a fascinating juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern. Kobe residents, known as people of Kobe, have managed to weave into their daily routine a harmonious blend of ancestral traditions and cutting-edge urban living, creating a colorful and unique tapestry that reflects the true essence of the city.

In the streets of Kobe, you can see futuristic skyscrapers and high-tech stores, but at the same time, you are never far from a quiet Shinto shrine or an ancient Buddhist sanctuary, a sign of the people of Kobe close relationship with their historical heritage. This perfect balance between the past and the present is one of the most characteristic features of their daily life.

An interesting aspect of daily life in Kobe is its transportation system. People of Kobe have an incredibly efficient network of trains, buses, and subways, operated by different companies, that takes them to any corner of the city in minutes. But not everything is modernity in this aspect; rickshaws, a traditional form of Japanese transportation, can still be seen in the historic areas of the city, adding quaint charm to the urban landscape.

Clothing is also a way in which people of Kobe express their cultural duality. While during the week you can see city dwellers wearing Western-style business attire, on weekends and holidays, many opt for the yukata or kimono, traditional Japanese garments. In particular, at events and festivals like the 'Kobe Luminarie' and the 'Kobe Festival,' the streets are filled with bright colors and intricate patterns of these traditional outfits.


The main events in Kobe are as follows.

Kobe Luminarie: This annual festival, held every December, is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Kobe Luminarie is a spectacular light festival that began in 1995 as a tribute to the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Every year, millions of LED bulbs illuminate the city center with stunning designs that transform the streets into a fantasy world. It is an emotional demonstration of resilience and hope that attracts visitors from around the world.

Kobe Festival (Kobe Matsuri): Held in May, the Kobe Matsuri is the largest citizen festival and one of the most exciting. The streets are filled with parades of traditional Yosakoi dances, live music, and food stalls offering local delights such as the famous Kobe steak and Takoyaki. Additionally, during this festival, many of Kobe's main attractions, such as the Nunobiki Herb Garden and the Kobe City Aquarium, offer free or discounted admission.

Kobe Port Festival (Minato Matsuri): In July, the port of Kobe comes alive with the Minato Matsuri, a festival celebrating the sea and its significance to the city. The event culminates in a stunning fireworks display over the harbor. During the day, visitors can enjoy dance exhibitions, live music, and water sports competitions.

Kobe Danjiri Festival: This festival, held in September, is one of Kobe's oldest and most beloved traditions. During the festival, teams from local neighborhoods pull intricately carved wooden carts, called "danjiri," through the city streets. The speed and energy of the danjiri race create an electrifying atmosphere, while the detailed carvings of the carts demonstrate the artistic skill of the community.

These festivals offer a unique insight into life in Kobe and its people, and attending any of them is an unforgettable experience. Whether it's the dazzling beauty of the Kobe Luminarie, the lively celebration of the Kobe Matsuri, the waterfront party during the Minato Matsuri, or the vibrant energy of the Danjiri Festival, each festival allows visitors to live and breathe the culture and traditions of this wonderful city. So why not join the people of Kobe and join the celebration?

In addition, people of Kobe have a strong sense of community and cooperation. They can often be seen participating in community events, helping each other in times of need, and working together to keep public areas of the city clean and orderly. This culture of mutual respect and common responsibility is another way in which people of Kobe demonstrate their balance between the modern and the traditional. But how has this sense of cooperation among people of Kobe developed? To understand this, we must look back in time and examine both the history and customs of this wonderful city.

Since the Edo period (1603-1868), Kobe has been an important center of trade. In the 19th century, when it opened to foreign trade, the city saw rapid growth and a large influx of foreign traders. This, in turn, created a cosmopolitan and diverse environment, in which different cultures and traditions mingled and coexisted. Throughout this process, people of Kobe learned to work together, despite their cultural differences, for the community's welfare. This sense of cooperation and solidarity, forged through centuries of trade and intercultural contact, remains an integral part people of Kobe identity today.

Another factor contributing to this strong sense of community is the neighborhood system or "chōnaikai," a common feature throughout Japan and very present in Kobe. These neighborhood groups not only take care of the maintenance and cleanliness of their local areas but also organize social events and festivals, strengthening community ties and promoting a spirit of cooperation.

Additionally, the tragedy of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 reinforced this sense of unity among people of Kobe. The devastation caused by the earthquake required an incredible community response, and the people of Kobe came together to help each other in the recovery. This shared experience of overcoming adversity together further strengthened their sense of community and cooperation.

Daily life in Kobe is a microcosm of Japanese culture as a whole, reflecting both its deep respect for tradition and its drive for innovation and modernity. people of Kobe have managed to find a balance between these two aspects, creating a way of life that is as rich and diverse as the city itself. It is precisely this duality, this ability to honor the past while embracing the future, that makes Kobe such a special and vibrant place to live.

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