On Jan. 1, 1868, foreign merchants, who had spent the preceding days on ships offshore waiting for the official opening of the Port of Kobe, finally received permission to land on the beach of what had been a sleepy village well known locally for its thriving sake and fishing industries.

“The scene they gazed upon from the ships was very different from that which meets the eye of a visitor arriving in the harbor of Kobe today. On the beach were a few fishing boats, and a little further up the thatched huts of fishermen stood on the site of what is now known as the Native Bund, west of the Settlement. Behind lay the small town or village of Kobe,” wrote the Japan Chronicle newspaper in 1918.

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