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Walking in Nada Downtown

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Nada Ward in Kobe, Japan, is a wonderful destination that seamlessly integrates Japanese tradition and modern art while prioritizing accessibility for all visitors, including those with mobility challenges. Whether you're interested in sake culture, serene gardens, contemporary art, or simply enjoying the scenic waterfront, Nada Ward has something to offer every traveler.

In addition to its rich cultural offerings, Nada Ward in Kobe, Japan, also bears a remarkable story of resilience and recovery. After the devastating Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which left much of the region in ruins, Nada Ward embarked on an inspiring journey of reconstruction. The community came together to rebuild their town, not only restoring the physical infrastructure but also revitalizing their spirit and preserving their cultural heritage.

*we will visit wheelchair-friendly facilities, including ramps for accessibility #ForCruiseTravelers #HalfdayTrip


1. Explore the history of Sake

1 hour

Discovering Nada: Where Tradition and Ingenuity Meet

The name "Nada" resonates with history, culture, and the art of sake brewing. This coastal region, stretching from Kobe to Osaka, collectively earned the moniker "Nada," a place where the secrets of sake production have been passed down through the ages.

The roots of sake brewing in the Nada region trace back to around 1330, but it wasn't until the period between 1655 and 1736 that Nada truly flourished as a sake brewing hub. This was a time when Nada's reputation soared as it produced exceptional sake through innovative rice polishing and brewing techniques.

In the year 1828, five regions within Nada, each contributing significantly to Japan's sake brewing legacy, united to form what we now know as "Nada Gogo."

Factors that Shaped Nada Gogo's Success

The Nada sake brewing industry's success story is a testament to its advanced brewing techniques and access to pristine miyamizu, high-quality water flowing from a corner of Nishinomiya. In addition to traditional foot polishing, water mills harnessed the swift currents of the Rokko Mountains, increasing the degree of rice polishing and enabling mass production.

Furthermore, Nada's strategic location near Hyogo-tsu and Osaka, where top-tier rice was gathered, played a pivotal role in its prosperity. The convenience of shipping made it a depot for barrel shipping wholesalers, strategically positioned in Nishinomiya, a neighboring town of Kobe. By shipping sake via barrel-loaded ships through sea routes to Edo (now Tokyo), Nada unlocked faster and more substantial shipments than land-based methods. In the late Edo period, Nada-no-shu, as it was affectionately known, became the favored choice of Edo residents, supplying up to 80% of the city's sake needs.

Venturing into the world of sake brewing during those times demanded substantial capital investments. These encompassed the purchase of land and buildings (sake cellars), construction costs, sake brewing equipment, procurement of sake rice, sake barrels, firewood, wages for brewery workers, and more. Yet, even with such considerable financial investments, success in the business wasn't guaranteed.

Sake brewers during the Edo period epitomized skilled entrepreneurs who skillfully navigated the intricacies of the market and prevailing business conditions. Their ability to invest wisely, manage capital efficiently, and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the era allowed them to thrive.

Today, Nada Gogo stands as a living testament to the enduring spirit of its people, who have safeguarded their centuries-old traditions and preserved their heritage while embracing innovation and progress. It's a place where the echoes of history mingle harmoniously with the pursuit of excellence in sake brewing.

Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum

On our tour, you'll get the chance to visit one of these two esteemed sake breweries:


Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum

Both museums offer:

A museum shop where you can find unique sake-related items


Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
2. Discover the World of Modern Japanese Art

1 Hour

the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is unique for its strong focus on modern Japanese art.

The museum has a strong emphasis on modern Japanese art, making it a premier destination for exploring the evolution of contemporary artistic expression in Japan. Its collection and exhibitions primarily showcase the works of Japanese artists from the modern era. Known for its commitment to innovation in art, the museum often exhibits cutting-edge and experimental artworks. It provides a platform for emerging artists to push the boundaries of traditional art forms.

The museum building itself is an architectural masterpiece. Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, it features a striking, minimalist design with a focus on natural light and space. The museum's architecture adds to the overall artistic experience.

Standing tall as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, Kenji Yanobe's "Sun Sister" gazes over the bay. This striking statue, featuring a female figure with large eyes, clad in metallic attire, holds a shining sun symbolizing resilience.


Suidosuji Shotengai
3. Connect with Locals in the Heart of Shoten-gai

4 hours

During your visit to Shoten-gai, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy Japanese cuisine for lunch and take part in a cultural workshop led by local masters.

The Suidosuji Shoten-gai or shopping street offers an enchanting glimpse into local life and culture. This historic street, boasting an impressive 80-year legacy, stretches a substantial 450 meters in length. Running in an east-west line, it encompasses not just one, but seven shopping streets and four bustling markets.

The Suidosuji Shotengai or shopping street offers an enchanting glimpse into local life and culture. This historic street, boasting an impressive 80-year legacy, stretches a substantial 450 meters in length. Running in an east-west line, it encompasses not just one, but seven shopping streets and four bustling markets.

What sets Suidosuji apart is its vibrant, ever-evolving character. Over 500 shops now line its bustling pathways, creating an atmosphere that's constantly abuzz with activity. It's a place where locals and visitors alike come together to indulge in the simple joys of eating and shopping.

As you stroll through Suidosuji's charming shopping arcade, you'll quickly sense the tight-knit community that calls this place home. The local spirit is palpable, especially during the seasonal events organized by the local communities. These celebrations bring residents and visitors together, creating a warm and nostalgic ambiance that's uniquely Suidosuji.

Ebisu-sama: The small stone statue in American football gear

In the heart of the Suidosuji Shoten-gai, a small but intriguing stone statue stands as the guardian deity - Ebisu-sama, the god of business prosperity, wearing an unexpected outfit: an American football uniform! Nada Ward, the neighbourhood where this charming guardian resides, is known as the home of American football in Japan.

This unique blend of cultures gives Suidosuji a unique character. Here, tradition meets the unexpected, celebrating both the revered god of commerce and the community's deep-rooted love of American football. It's a delightful symbol of the harmonious coexistence of diverse influences within Nada Ward's rich cultural tapestry.

Ebisu-sama in Suidousuji Shoten-gai

"Indulge in a Local Lunch at Suidosuji Shopping Arcade, Then Immerse Yourself in Authentic Japanese Culture!

Enjoy lunch then explore the richness of everyday life in the Suidosuji!

(optional: Experience local tradition)

Leave behind the foot-breaking tea ceremonies and indecipherable calligraphy, and dive into the delightful world of everyday Japanese traditions. Meet friendly local teachers who will introduce you to the small yet beautiful cultural experiences cherished by ordinary families in Japan.


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