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Sannomiya Station Guide: Here's How to Get Around the Maze of Kobe's Train Hub!

Sannomiya Station Guide: Here's How to Get Around the Maze of Kobe's Train Hub!

Date published: 5 March 2020
Last updated: 10 June 2020

Sannomiya Station is your first point of call when traveling to Kobe! With access to various locations via five transportation methods, the JR Line, Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kobe Municipal Subway, and Port Liner (Port Island Line), this station is considered the hub of Kobe.

It's great that you can move between stations without even going outside via the underground shopping route. However, Sannomiya Station can be complicated, and it can be easy to get lost if you are unfamiliar with the routes.

So today, we would like to introduce Sannomiya Station and how to navigate it, including best transfer routes to other railways and how to get to tourist attractions with ease.

Table of Contents
  1. Sannomiya Station: Different Spellings at Every Station?!
  2. Getting from Sannomiya Station to Nearby Points of Interest in Kobe
  3. Kobe Harborland: Take JR Line to Kobe Station
  4. Kobe Port Tower: Traveling via Hankyu Railway
  5. Motomachi Shopping Street and Nankin-machi: Traveling to Motomachi Station via JR Line or Hanshin Electric Railway
  6. Kitano Ijinkan Street: Getting to Shin-Kobe Station via Kobe City Subway
  7. Kobe Airport: Convenient Access via New Kobe Port Island Line
  8. Mountainside and Seaside: What Do They Mean?
  9. Getting to Other Hyogo and Kobe Attractions From Sannomiya Station
  10. Osaka/Umeda: Use the JR or Hankyu/Hanshin Line
  11. Kyoto: Both JR and Hankyu are so Convenient!
  12. Plenty of Available Coin Lockers at JR Sannomiya Station
  13. Brochures and Maps at the Tourist Information Center
  14. Restaurants and Shopping Around Sannomiya Station
  15. Kobe Hankyu: A Variety of Sweets
  16. Santika Aji no Noren Machi: A Variety of Cuisines
  17. Mint Kobe: Shopping in Sophistication
  18. Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai: The Latest Trends

Sannomiya Station: Different Spellings at Every Station?!

Sannomiya Station: Different Spellings at Every Station?!

Even though it's the same Sannomiya, the station name is written in a slightly different way for each railway line.

On the JR Line, it is called Sannomiya Station (written 三ノ宮駅); on the Hankyu and Hanshin Electric Railways it is called Kobe-Sannomiya Station (神戸三宮駅); the Kobe Municipal Subway Seishin/Yamate Line is also called Sannomiya Station, but with different kanji spelling (三宮駅); the Kobe Municipal Subway Kaigan Line is called Sannomiya/Hanacho-mae Station (三宮・花時計前駅); and the Port Liner is Sannomiya Station (三宮駅).

So where is each station positioned in relation to each other?

The Hanshin Electric Railway and Port Liner are on the south side of JR Sannomiya Station. A little further away are the Kobe Municipal Subway Kaigan Line and the Kobe Municipal Subway Seishin/Yamate Line on the west side. Hankyu Station is at the southwest.

Getting from Sannomiya Station to Nearby Points of Interest in Kobe

Getting from Sannomiya Station to Nearby Points of Interest in Kobe

Now, let's take a look at some of the most convenient routes to get to Kobe's tourist attractions.

Kobe Harborland: Take JR Line to Kobe Station

Kobe Harborland: Take JR Line to Kobe Station
JR Sannomiya Station West Exit Ticket Gate
Ticket machines

Kobe Harborland is home to popular shops such as the large shopping center umie and Kobe Brick Warehouse HARBOR STORES. It's an amazing location with the sea stretching right out in front. Recently, it has become a popular spot for foreign tourists to visit, with fun things to enjoy for people of all ages.

You can get here via the JR Line. It is only 3 to 4 minutes (130 yen) from JR Sannomiya Station to JR Kobe Station. From there, Kobe Harborland is only a 5-minute walk away.
Ticket vending machines are available in English, Chinese, and Korean, and accept coins, bills, credit cards, and Japanese transportation IC cards.

Kobe Port Tower: Traveling via Hankyu Railway

Kobe Port Tower: Traveling via Hankyu Railway
Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station East Gate
Ticket machines

Kobe Port Tower is located at Nakatottei, a dock on Kobe Port, and is an observation tower with a great view of the harbor. It is a famous Kobe landmark that's popular with locals and tourists alike. Its appearance is said to resemble a Japanese drum called a "tsuzumi," and is a beautiful red color. At night, the tower becomes illuminated by 7,040 LED lights.

You can walk to Kobe Port Tower from Hanakuma Station, accessible via the Hankyu Railway. It takes only one minute (130 yen) from Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station to Hanakuma Station, and about 15 minutes to walk from there to Kobe Port Tower.

Motomachi Shopping Street and Nankin-machi: Traveling to Motomachi Station via JR Line or Hanshin Electric Railway

Motomachi Shopping Street and Nankin-machi: Traveling to Motomachi Station via JR Line or Hanshin Electric Railway
Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Station West Exit
Ticket Machines
Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station Ticket Gate

Just a short distance from Motomachi Station, towards the coastal side of Kobe, are the well-established shops of Motomachi Shopping Street and Nankin-machi, which are well-loved by locals and tourists alike. It is about a 5-minute walk to Kobe Old Settlement, where the streets of modern Western architecture remain. JR and Hanshin Electric Railway Motomachi Station are only one stop from JR Sannomiya Station and Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station.

Ride one minute from JR Sannomiya Station to JR Motomachi Station (130 yen), or 1-2 minutes (130 yen) from Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station to Hanshin Motomachi Station.

Kitano Ijinkan Street: Getting to Shin-Kobe Station via Kobe City Subway

Kitano Ijinkan Street: Getting to Shin-Kobe Station via Kobe City Subway

Kitano Ijinkan-gai is an area of modern Western-style building where foreigners lived in the Meiji Period. Some buildings are open to the public.

If coming from Sannomiya Station, you will walk up the hill towards the mountain side. If coming from the mountain side, via the Kobe Municipal Subway Shin-Kobe Station, your walk will be downhill. Either way, you can enjoy a nice walk in the town while taking in the atmosphere.

Exit north from the JR Sannomiya Station Central Exit, and down to the basement. Head to the Kobe Municipal Subway Seishin/Yamate Line Sannomiya Station.

The entrance of Kobe Municipal Subway Seishin-Yamate Line Sannomiya Station is located just outside the JR West Gate on the mountain side. It takes two minutes (210 yen) from Sannomiya Station to Shin-Kobe Station via subway. Kitano Ijinkan-gai is about a 10-minute walk west from Shin-Kobe Station.

Kobe Airport: Convenient Access via New Kobe Port Island Line

Kobe Airport: Convenient Access via New Kobe Port Island Line

Exit from JR Sannomiya Station East Exit and go up the escalator to the Port Liner Sannomiya Station.

Ticket Machines
Kobe Port Liner Sannomiya Station Ticket Gate

After sightseeing in Hyogo and Kobe, if you need to catch a plane, head to Kobe Airport. You can also use the Kobe-Kansai Airport Bay Shuttle from Kobe Airport to Kansai International Airport.

There is also an observation deck on the Kobe Airport rooftop. If you look northward, you will see a view overlooking the city of Kobe. Towards the back, you will get a view of the planes up close.

Get to the Kobe Airport by using the Kobe Port Liner. Head south at the JR Sannomiya Station East Exit ticket gates and up the escalator. There you will find Kobe Port Liner Sannomiya Station. It takes about 18 minutes (340 yen) to get to Kobe Airport Station.

Mountainside and Seaside: What Do They Mean?

Mountainside and Seaside: What Do They Mean?
Gengorou / Shutterstock.com

Perhaps this one is a tad obvious, but interestingly, one of the geographical features of Kobe is that it is a city situated between the mountains and the sea, with the mountains towards the north and the sea towards the south. Because of this, people who grew up in the area often refer to the north as “mountain side” and the south as “sea side.”

When asking directions, if someone happens to use the terms "mountain side" and "sea side," then you will know that they mean "north" and "south," respectively. It is such a popular expression in Kobe that even some department stores use the mountain/sea side terminology in their store guide directions. Also, the Hankyu, JR, and Hanshin Lines are said to run from the mountain side. This expression is very useful to remember if you ever get lost.

Getting to Other Hyogo and Kobe Attractions From Sannomiya Station

Getting to Other Hyogo and Kobe Attractions From Sannomiya Station
Vichean Jintakaweekul / Shutterstock.com

You can easily get to many other popular tourist attractions a little away from Sannomiya Station using each train.

If traveling from Sannomiya to Arima Onsen in the Kansai area, you can use the Kobe Municipal Subway.

Arima Onsen is one of Japan's "Three Ancient Springs," located in the northern part of Kobe City on the north side of Mt. Rokko. There are also outdoor hot springs, so it makes a nice spot for a day-trip outside of Kobe City. The tasteful cityscape is also popular with tourists. It take about 35 minutes and two transfers from Sannomiya Station to Arima Onsen Station, and costs 950 yen.

Next up is the World Heritage Site Himeji Castle by JR Line.

Himeji Castle, in Himeji City, is located west of Kobe. It was built in the early Edo Period and is known as one of Japan's 100 Greatest Castles. Because of its beautiful appearance, said to resemble a white bird with its wings spread, it has earned the nickname Shirasagi Castle, which translates to "White Heron" Castle.

JR Himeji Station is approximately 41 minutes (990 yen) away from JR Sannomiya Station via the Special Rapid Service train. It is a nice 20 minute walk to Himeji Castle from the station, however you can also use a bus. From Himeji Station North Exit, ride the bus to Himeji-jo Otemon-mae (100 yen).

Osaka/Umeda: Use the JR or Hankyu/Hanshin Line

Osaka/Umeda: Use the JR or Hankyu/Hanshin Line
JR Sannomiya Station North Platform (Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station pictured in the upper right)

There are three train lines - the JR, Hankyu, and Hanshin Lines - that run parallel to each other between Sannomiya and Osaka, so you can travel to Osaka and Umeda using either of those. Only the travel time and fares are different for each, so make sure to check which one best suits your budget and schedule.
• From JR Sannomiya Station to Osaka Station via Special Rapid Service: approx. 21 minutes, 410 yen
• From Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station to Osaka Umeda Station via Limited Express: approx. 27 minutes, 320 yen
• From Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Station to Osaka Umeda Station via Limited Express: approx. 32 minutes, 320 yen

Kyoto: Both JR and Hankyu are so Convenient!

Kyoto: Both JR and Hankyu are so Convenient!
Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station East Gate

If you're bound for Kyoto City, we recommend using the JR Line if traveling to Kyoto Station, or the Hankyu Line for Kyoto Kawaramachi Station.
• From JR Sannomiya Station to Kyoto Station via Special Rapid Service: approx 51 minutes, 1,100 yen
• From Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya Station to Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station via Limited Express (transfer at Juso Station): approx 72 minutes, 630 yen

Plenty of Available Coin Lockers at JR Sannomiya Station

Plenty of Available Coin Lockers at JR Sannomiya Station
Coin lockers south of the JR Sannomiya Station East Exit ticket gate (Large: 700 yen, Medium: 500 yen, Small: 400 yen)

There are many coin lockers around JR Sannomiya Station. You can find them near the East Exit ticket gates, beside the escalator to the Port Liner on the south side, and next to the Tourist Information Center (to the right), available in large, medium, and small sizes. There is even a coin locker room in the north (available from first train to last train).

There are also lockers available in large, medium, and small sizes in front of the Central Ticket Gate West Exit on the first floor, and some small and medium lockers on the second floor of the West Exit. Finally, there are coin lockers on the Hanshin/Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station premises, as well as large-sized lockers at the Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station East Exit.

Coin lockers next to Tourist Information Center (Large: 700 yen, Medium: 500 yen, Small: 400 yen)
Spacious coin locker room next to police station at JR Sannomiya Station East Exit (Large: 700 yen, Medium: 500 yen, Small: 400 yen)

Brochures and Maps at the Tourist Information Center

Brochures and Maps at the Tourist Information Center

If you are planning to do some sightseeing around Kobe, head to the Kobe City General Information Center (Tourist Information Center) located on the south side of the JR Sannomiya Station East Gate. There are tablets where you can look up tourist information, and are fully equipped with free Wi-Fi (KOBE Free Wi-Fi).

The tablets, as well as signs, are in English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean. Booklets, pamphlets, and maps are also available in each language. (9:00AM-7:00PM, 7 days a week; Closes at 3:00PM from 12/31-1/2)

Restaurants and Shopping Around Sannomiya Station

Restaurants and Shopping Around Sannomiya Station

There are many places around the station where you can enjoy food and shopping. You can get to Kobe Center-Gai Shopping Street by cross southward from: Hankyu Kobe Sannomiya Station East Exit Gate; JR Sannomiya Station West Gate; Mint Kobe (directly connected to East Exit); Sanchika (directly connected to Hanshin Kobe Sannomiya Station West Exit); or Kobe-Hankyu (south side of JR Sannomiya Station).

The entrance to Motomachi Shopping Street is located to the west of Daimaru Department Store, where the Motomachi Station East Exit is. Nankin-machi is south of 1st Avenue. Going down 1st Avenue from 3rd to 6th street will take you through the arcade that leads to Kobe Station. Motomachi is a great shopping street with many long-established shops and a traditional Kobe vibe that you are sure to enjoy.

Kobe Hankyu: A Variety of Sweets

Kobe Hankyu: A Variety of Sweets
Kobe Hankyu Basement Entrance

Kobe Hankyu is located just off the Hanshin Kobe-Sannomiya Station West Ticket Gate. In October 2019, the name was rebranded and changed from SOGO Kobe. The grocery store was revamped and now sells limited edition sweets only available here. Kobe Hankyu is a department store that offers a a wide selection of other items, from from clothing to miscellaneous items, to luxury brands and children's goods.

Santika Aji no Noren Machi: A Variety of Cuisines

Santika Aji no Noren Machi: A Variety of Cuisines
Hanshin Side Entrance

If you exit through the left side of Kobe-Sannomiya Station East Exit, you will come to santica Aji no Noren Machi. Here you will find many Japanese, Western, and Chinese restaurants, loved and frequented by the locals.

Mint Kobe: Shopping in Sophistication

Mint Kobe: Shopping in Sophistication

Mint Kobe is a shop in front of the Kobe Port Liner Sannomiya Station ticket gate. It is connected to the second floor via passageway, and is a trendy spot for fashion and gourmet that young people love.

Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai: The Latest Trends

Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai: The Latest Trends

Kobe Sannomiya Center Gai is a 2-minute walk from Sannomiya Station on each line. This is a shopping street with an arcade extending from east to west, lined with a variety of fashion brands, accessories, and general shops.

Sannomiya Station is a good starting point for a sightseeing trip in Kobe. There are a number of transfer routes from station to station on each line, so it is easy to find a detour. But there are also many shops, so you may want to set aside some time to explore the area as part of your trip.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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