Monday, April 10, 2017

[Japan 2016] Kobe: Meriken Park + Kobe Harborland

Photo By: Elin Chow

Leaving Nankinmachi, we headed to the next popular tourist attraction in Kobe - The Meriken Park. Meriken Park is located just 10 minutes walk from Nankinmachi. Close to Meriken Park is Kobe Harborland, a busy shopping and entertainment district in Kobe.

Passing through Nankinmachi and head towards the red Kobe Port Tower, we reached a large parking lot with several twisted overhead expressways after climbing up an overhead bridge. This is a gateway to Meriken Park, in which you will pass by a couple of hotels, eventually arriving at the base of the Kobe Port Tower.

Meriken Park is a waterfront park built on an outcropping of reclaimed land in Kobe's port area. The Park features some of the most iconic landmarks in Kobe, including the Kobe Port Tower and Kobe Maritime Museum, as well as Harborland. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kobe and should not be missed on a trip to the port city.

Completed in 1963, The Kobe Port Tower has been the most recognizable landmark of the Port city of Kobe. Standing at 108 metres tall, the Kobe Port Tower is the first tower in the world using a pipe lattice, The tower is inspired by a Tsuzumi, a traditional Japanese drum like instrument consisting of a wooden drum shaped like a hourglass. The Tsuzumi has two drum heads, which are fastened by ropes.

The Kobe Port Tower is surrounded by 32 red steel pipes, hence it is also named the "Beauty of Iron Tower". Since its completion, the tower has since won several architecture awards for its unique design.

The tower has three observation decks, offering a spectacular 360 view over the bay and surrounding areas. Other than that, the tower also has shops and restaurants, as well as a rotating cafe. It is definitely a must see for visitors visiting the city of Kobe.

When darkness falls, the tower is illuminated with thousands of colorful LED lights, adding colors to the night in Kobe. However, we did not managed to witness that beautiful sight because we left Kobe right after lunch.

The beautiful port provides plenty of great photo opportunities for visitors.

Other notable building that you will find in Meriken Park include the impressive four-star Meriken Park Oriental Hotel. Designed to resemble a luxury cruise liner docked in the harbor, surrounded by the ocean on all three sides, the hotel is undoubtedly one of the landmark of the Port city.

The city of Kobe was once devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, killing more than 6,400 people. Nearly 400,000 buildings were irreparably damaged by the earthquake, including 120 out of the 150 quays in the port of Kobe.

Before the earthquake, the port of Kobe was the busiest in Japan. Even though the city has been fully restored, a small part of it has been left unrepaired as a reminder of the earthquake.

Today, the port of Kobe has slipped to the fourth busiest port in Japan.. It operates two cruise terminals, both of which are located within close proximity to each other. Located right in the center of the waterfront park, you will find the Naka Pier Cruise Terminal, which is used to accommodate small to mid-sized cruise ships. The larger sized cruise ships dock at Kobe Port Terminal, which is located outside the city center and is connected to Naka Pier Cruise Terminal by the Kobe Port Liner.

Surrounded by the lush green Rokko mountains and blue waters, the port of Kobe is one of the most beautiful port in the world. There is nothing much to do or see at Meriken Park. It was boring, and in fact, it was our least favorite place we have visited during our 7D6N Japan trip. Indeed, the port city of Kobe is beautiful, but sadly, we just did not love it or like it as much as we like other cities in Japan.

Meriken Park was not huge, but it was a pleasant and peaceful place to relax and have a stroll. The park was not crowded with people when we visited on a weekday morning. We were surprised at how empty the park was that morning. Perhaps, it might be because we visited on a weekday instead of a weekend.

Walking along the waterway, to the opposite shore of Meriken Park, you will reach Kobe Harborland, another popular destination amongst the local people and tourists alike.

Continuing down a paved pathway, we arrived at Mosaic, a shopping mall overlooking the port of Kobe and Kobe Port Tower. 

Stretching along the waterfront, Mosaic offers a good selection of shops and restaurants, most of which overlooks the beautiful harbor.

Other than that, you will also find a small amusement park in at the end of Mosaic, which gives Kobe Harborland a carnival feel. The amusement park  is complete with a giant Ferris Wheel and some other joyrides for children.

Right next to the Ferris Wheel, you will find the Kobe Anpanman Children's Museum & Mall, dedicated specially to Anpanman and his friends. This is where kids will enjoy spending a day with their favorite Japanese characters.

For those who do not know, Anpanman is one of the most popular anime series among young children in Japan. Anpanman is a bread-headed superhero who protects the world from a evil germ called Baikinman.

We probably spend an hour or two wandering through Meriken Park and Harborland. If you are not interested in shopping, I believe two hours will be sufficient to see the entire place. Overall, we find this tourist attraction dull and uninteresting. In fact, I have a feeling that we visited just for the sake of visiting this popular attraction in the city. We did not like it or hate it at all.

So, is it worth visiting? Well, if you have some spare time, I do recommend visiting. It was still a nice place to take a stroll and relax with a view.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 7D6N Osaka - Kyoto - Nara - Kobe Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 7 days in Japan. For anyone planning your first trip to Japan but have no idea where to start, you should read my "How To Plan A Trip To Japan" post.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 7 days adventures in Japan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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