The permanent collection here includes painting, sculpture and crafts by Japanese and overseas (particularly Belgian) artists.
Across the castle's western moat is this stunning reconstruction of the former samurai quarters. Nine Edo Period–style homes boast gardens with various combinations of waterfalls, koi ponds, intricately pruned trees, bamboo, flowering shrubs and a wisteria-covered arbor. It feels like a movie set amid the stone and plaster walls lining the paths (in fact, many Japanese historical dramas have been shot here). It is particularly lovely in spring and during the autumn foliage season. In the teahouse, ¥500 gets you matcha (powdered green tea) and a Japanese sweet, presented by a kimono-clad server, and the restaurant Kassui-ken (活水軒) serves a bentō (boxed meal) of anago (conger eel, a local speciality, ¥2080).
Ground yourself in Kōbe's history as a trading port and east–west meeting place, via art and artifacts with decent English signage. Items show foreign influence from clocks and oil lamps to hairstyles. It's pricey during special exhibits but worth it especially when they include the museum's collection of namban (literally 'southern barbarian') art, a school of painting that developed when early Jesuit missionaries taught Western painting techniques to Japanese students. The Greek revival-style building dates from 1935.