The area is full of European style buildings that were built for western immigrants during the Meiji period (1868 onwards). Seeing that these foreign style houses were inhabited by Ihojin (foreigners),they were called Ijinkan (foreigner house).
A local Japanese builder,showing just how quickly the Japanes adapted to foreign ways and knowledge,carried out the construction.

Although a third of the Ijinkans were destroyed in the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake disaster of 1995,40 or so still stand today and the area is protected as a traditional architectures preservation district. It is one of the few places where you can see the pre-war glory of Kobe and is a popular tourist spot.
You are even allowed to enter some of these Ijinkans.