The Oldest Foreign Club in Western Japan
Since its establishment in 1869 as the first English-speaking club for foreigners in Western Japan, the Kobe Club has been the gathering place of choice for the international community. In 2014 the Club was incorporated as a general association. The present Club’s membership is represented by more than 30 different countries constituting from diplomatic and government services, academic, research and medical instituions and from private sector.
Overlooking the bustling Port of Kobe, the Club’s secluded wooded grounds at the center of Kobe City, provides an oasis for members to enjoy, with a wide range of cultural, sporting, culinary and social activities.
The story of the Kobe Club begins on 1st May 1869 when 27 foreign gentlemen founded The English Club (also known as ‘The International Club’). One year later the establishment moved from Motomachi to the Foreing Settlement and was renamed the ‘Kobe Club’.
To accommodate a growing membership, in 1879 the Club relocated to a larger site in Kano-cho. A Red-brick structure in grand colonial style designed by a British architect was completed in 1890 offering members, besides a bar (with the longest counter in Japan) and dining room, a library, billiard room, conversation room, card room and even a 2-row bowling alley.
The outbreak of WWII interrupted the Club’s activities and the fine old building was gutted by fire in an air raid in 1945. After the War, the Club sold its land in Kano-cho and relocated to the current location on the former site of the Tor Hotel. Construction of the buildings still in use today was completed in 1955.
In the devastating 1995 Hanshin Earthquake the Club did not suffer significant damage and was able to provide temporary shelter for 200 people. Kobe Club has witnessed and contributed to the history of Kobe City and has continued to provide a home away from home for its international community for a century and a half. The Kobe Club had celebrated its 150th Birthday on the 1st of May 2019.