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Study in Kobe, Japan

Population: 1,555,000

City Overview

Kobe is still recovering from the devastating Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, but its vibrancy, cosmopolitan nature and small size means it is still a great place for postgraduate students to come and study. Wedged in between the sea and mountains, Kobe is a long narrow city which is easy to walk around.

As a significant port city, Kobe has always attracted workers and students from other cities. Famed around the world for its Kobe beef, the city has plenty to offer postgraduate students.

Education profile

Kobe is home to eighteen public and private universities and eight junior colleges. You can study a graduate program in Kobe at:
Research and taught masters are both offered as graduate programs in Kobe, and both usually take two years to complete. Almost all PhDs are academic and dissertation based (and last five years), apart from the Juris Doctor – the only professional doctorate offered in Japan, which only takes 2-3 years to complete.

Immigration and visas

You will need to apply for a student visa if you are studying a full time postgraduate course (at least four hours a day, five days a week) in Kobe for more than three months.

You will also need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility before you are able to apply for a student visa, so the whole process will take some time – start your application at least four months before your first semester to be ready on time.

You will need to send a copy of your passport along with a completed application form and the Certificate of Eligibility. Your student visa will last for two years of study before it needs to be renewed.

Life in Kobe

Kobe is one of Japan’s most attractive cities and its relatively small size means you can get most places on foot. Although not blessed with the tourist attractions of Tokyo and Kyoto, Kobe still has plenty of good restaurants, cafes and bars. Its history as a port town and its large number of international companies means that Kobe has a cosmopolitan feel.

Working in Kobe

If you wish to remain in Kobe after you finish your studies for more than six months to work, you will need to get a work permit.

Although there are many international workers in Kobe and English is used in many businesses, it still makes sense to learn Japanese to improve your job prospects and interaction with colleagues.

Kobe’s main industry is still centred around its port, which is the fourth busiest in Japan. As such, manufacturing and shipping still forms a major part of Kobe’s economy, but the city’s service sector is also growing. Despite this, manufacturing appliances, food products and transportation equipment are the three largest sectors.

There are more than 100 international companies with regional headquarters in Kobe, including Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Toy R Us.


Most students on postgraduate courses in Kobe opt to stay in university accommodation in order to be near the campus and meet fellow international students. Kobe University has a dedicated International Residence for international students on Port Island.
However, if you do decide to look for private accommodation, you should look in the following areas:
  • Sannomiya
  • Motomachi
  • Tarumi

Weather and Climate

Kobe has a typically Japanese climate, with hot humid summers and cold snowy winters. The warmest summer months are usually July and August with winter falling between December and February. Expect the rainy season to last from March to October, with June being the wettest month of the year.

What to do next

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