If you traveled to a city, strolling around its landmarks is just a must. The case in point is the city Kobe–with its Harborland and Meriken Park–is surely not to be missed. These two places are close to each other and can be explored in a day. The closest access is by taking JR Kobe Line, then these places can be reached about five minutes from Kobe Station.
Kobe Harborland was opened as JR Minatogawa Cargo Station in 1992 and is now, as the number of tourists grew, converted into a shopping and sightseeing destination. Passing the underground shopping center from Kobe Station, once you get out from the escalator, you will be welcomed by a wide pedestrian sidewalk with Anpanman and his friends’ statues. This character is a very popular anime about a hero made from anpan or sweet bean bread who protects others from the villain, Baikinman, and lets people eat parts of head whenever they are starving. The anime has been showing since 1973 and is still hugely popular especially with young kids.
Beloved Children's Character Anpanman
Around late autumn and winter, the trees along the sidewalk are transformed into illumination trees at night. Right across the road is Umie, a six-floor shopping mall facilitated with different shops including fashion goods, cafes and restaurants, and also a movie theater. This mall is fun to shop at all year round. You can just be like a normal customer shopping freely or just window shopping. Keep a good lookout for deals. Be sure to get points or discounts by registering as a member. You will get the card after a quick registration at the information center on the first floor.
Walk about two minutes south, you will find Mosaic, a restaurant and souvenir shops building with Kobe Port view, in front of you. There is an Anpanman Museum on the right side of Mosaic. You can take your child and have adventures in Anpanman’s Land. Still on the right side, in front of Anpanman museum, the Ferris wheel proudly stands up and embellishes this area with various illumination at night. You can hop onto one of the cars for 800 Yen per person and each car can accommodate four adults.
Mosaic. Photo by Tomomarusan on Wikimedia
Anpanman Museum. Photo by 663highland on Wikimedia
At the opposite of Mosaic, the cruise ship Concerto is anchored at Kobe Bay. The space that is usually used as a passenger boarding area, is sometimes used for staging events or seasonal facilities such as an ice skating rink or bazaar booths. At night, you can enjoy the illuminated Kobe Port from this place.
Night view Kobe Port
Cross the bridge to the northeastern Mosaic, you will find Ferry pier and the Kamomeria which is the terminal building. From this place you can purchase a ferry ticket for Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and wait before boarding. On the right of behind this building, there is the Notre Dame Hotel, a five-star hotel with their regular fountains in the day that become waterworks in the evening.
Just close by this place, you can spot Kobe Port Tower, a 108 m heights red-steel tower which has been a Kobe landmark since 1963. In this eight-floor tower you can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic Kobe, have lunch or dinner, or buy souvenirs at the shops on the second floor. Opened year-long from 9 AM to 9 PM (last entrance 8:30 PM) in March-November and 9 AM to 7 PM (last entrance 6:30) in December-February with admission ticket of 700 Yen (adults/300 Yen for junior high school students and free for infants up to two years old). You can get cheaper tickets for groups of 15 or more.
Kobe Port Tower
Right behind the tower, by crossing the small road, you will find Kobe Maritime Museum/Kawasaki Good Times World. This museum exhibits the history of Japan, or Kobe in particular, focuses on maritime and transportation technology. It is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM (last entrance at 4:30 PM) except for Monday. The admission ticket is 600 Yen for adults and 250 Yen for students under 15 years. You also have the option of a ticket to enter both Kobe Port Tower and Maritime Museum together for only 1000 Yen.
Maritime Museum. Photo by Tomomarusan on Wikimedia
Meriken Park. Photo by Mti on Wikimedia
The outdoor area around this museum is also called Meriken Park or Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park as the destroyed wharf of this area due to the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 is preserved as the memorial from that disaster. Nowadays, around this park, monthly bazaar and events are held frequently.