60-Year Old Illustrations of Kobe Contrasted with Contemporary Photos

Port of Kobe

In the 1950s, woodblock print artist Hide Kawanishi produced a series of color illustrations that depicted the changing city of Kobe after WWII. In 1962 he published the artwork in a book titled One Hundred Scenes of Kobe (神戸百景色). It would become the artist’s last major accomplishment before passing away in 1965.

Neon lights of Moto-Machi

Some 60 years later, Takayuki Kita, enchanted by the work of Kawanishi, spent 2 years hunting down each and every location. “I was driven by the magic of Hide Kawanishi in his enthusiasm of grasping the deep spirit and fantasy of Kobe out of the unique architecture scattered in the city,” says the traveler, who arranged his contemporary photographs alongside the artwork.

Mt. Rokko at Night
Shiogahara Park

The illustrations themselves are beautiful and obviously can stand on their own. But it’s also a fascinating and surreal exercise to compare the two scenes. All 100 illustrations, along with their contemporary photographs (and google map location), are available on the official Kobe City website. And used copies of the original book are also floating around the internet if you’re interested.

Hakutsuru Art Museum
Nada Sake Brewery
Nankin Machi (China Town)
Kobe Station
Suma Beach


  1. Subarashi..! A great concept..some superb prints.Tom

  2. As a lover of midcentury Japanese woodblock prints, I thank you for this wonderful post. Very fitting as well at the end of the year…….time does go by.

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