The name of a district as well as the station that acts as the transport hub of the city, Sannomiya is, in effect, downtown Kōbe, having superseded Motomachi and Shinkaichi, which lie just to the west of Sannomiya. The district’s rise to prominence began in 1933 when the Sogo Department Store moved to a new location beside the existing station.

JR West, Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Electric Railway, Kōbe Municipal Subway, and Kōbe New Transit (the Port Island monorail) all use the station facilities, with two subway stations on the Seishin-Yamate and Kaigan Lines.

The area to the north of the station is a noted eating and drinking district. 

On the western edge, Nankinmachi is the only Chinatown in western Japan.

To the east, towards the port, the Old Foreign Settlement has many luxury brand shops and fashion outlets. 

Center Gai Shopping Street runs west from Sannomiya through Motomachi and beyond, an arcade lined with shops selling almost anything the average consumer is likely to need.

© Ian Hughes 2017