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In fact, one could make the argument that Kobe cows live a life that most college students would envy: They stand around all day, drink lots of beer (it is actually a major component of their diet), and get massages with sake, the famous rice wine of Japan. This combination of inactivity, beer, and great genetics allow the cows to grow gloriously fat, thereby producing a meat as marbled and as tender as any in the world.
Gustatory glories aside, however, Kobe has a great deal to offer students. From its history to its culture, it is one of the most alluring cities in all of Japan. It is so alluring, in fact, that 'this cosmopolitan port city has a population of 45,500 foreign residents from more than 100 countries.' And with more than a dozen colleges and universities here, the number of students is every bit as impressive.
Kobe is so attractive to so many people for any number of reasons. Its history, certainly, plays a significant role. The city itself was not formally incorporated until the late 1800's, but it played a major role in the business life of Japan for more than a thousand years preceding that event. Indeed, 'as far back as the 8th century, there was a spot called the Owada Anchorage, now known as Wadamisaki Point. It became a key center for both land and sea trades, and had come to be called the Port of Hyogo by the end of the 13th century. It prospered as a port of trade with China and other countries of Asia, and it was in this period that the foundations of the urban area were laid.' So though the city itself is rather young, the area seems to always have been of great importance.
Today, Kobe exhibits both the respect for the past and the forward-thinking ethos of the most exciting, promising cities in the world. Visitors are often stunned and charmed by the unique juxtaposition of the old (like Hyogo House from the early 1900's and the Sumadera Temple from the 9th century) and the new (like the Green Arena Kobe, sort of like the Madison Square Garden of sporting events in Kobe), and from the natural (the glorious Nunobiki Falls) to the decidedly man-made (the Hamafukutsuru Brewery is home to a tour on the fascinating modern style of sake production).
Culturally, Kobe has a lot to offer visitors. There are museums galore, the world-class Oji Zoo, a fantastic Chinatown section of the city, international restaurants...if you can think of it, it sometimes seems, then Kobe offers it. And in that sense, Kobe is the perfect town for a university student: All the opportunities one could hope for, from excellent classes to fabulous culture, are there. It's just a matter of exploring this city and finding them.
Which is exactly why a semester or a year there is bound to be so rewarding.
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