On January 1, 1868, Hyogo Port was officially opened to foreign trade. Along with Yokohama (1859), Nagasaki (1859), Hakodate (1859) and Niigata (1869), it was one of the first open ports of Japan.
The foreign settlers choose to build their concession across the Minato River, in the village of Kobe. Some, 21 years later, the once tiny village had completely overtaken Hyogo, and on April 1, 1889 Hyogo was finally gobbled up when Kobe was incorporated as a city.
Known as Owada-no-tomari (大輪田泊) during the Nara (710–794) and Heian (794–1185) periods, Kobe Port has long played an important role in Japanese history. Japanese embassies to China used this port as one of their points of departure.
During the Kamakura Period (1192–1333), trade with China and other countries made the port flourish. It was during this time that the name Hyogo Port (兵庫津) first came into use.
On January 17, 1995 an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter magnitude scale destroyed large areas of the city, killed more than 6,400 residents and brought the city’s famous port to its knees. Before the quake, Kobe Port was one of Asia’s top ports, but even domestically it now ranks only fourth.