Meriken Park and Kobe Maritime Museum: If nautical nonsense is something you wish...

It should be no surprise that the Kobe Maritime Museum has a boat-centric collection of artifacts. The building is located in Meriken Park, a waterfront park in the port area of Kobe. Not only is it located there, it's right in the middle. Meriken Park was destroyed by the 1995 earthquake, but it has been redeveloped and is a very popular spot for tourists and locals alike. On my visit, there was a flea market in a nearby parking lot and some sort of family event with lots of food and beer stands plus a stage with a bunch of (amateur?) pop-idol performances.
 The building is designed to resemble a ship, with steel "sails" in white steel. Half of the museum is related to shipping, with the other half being another museum. You'll have to wait for that.
 The 'sea side' has large and small artifacts from ships old and new.
 The first floor has exhibits about the port and how it functions.
 There are also models of modern ships and a good bit to learn about shipping.
 Heading upstairs, you'll see more historically-based exhibits, including the history of the port and its connection to the rest of Japan and the world.
 The educational exhibits are great, but I really enjoyed the room full of large models. The cruise ships were surprisingly my favoites.
 I've never been on a modern cruise ship, so getting to explore one - in miniature form, from outside - was a lot of fun.
 That deck looks like a nice place to work on your tan. Those people seem to be having a good time at the pool.
 This ship has a tennis court! I guess many of them do. And there's a water slide!
 There's an old ship inside the building's entry, as well as a few outside the museum. I'm not sure what happened to those pictures right now. English signage inside the museum is decent, but sometimes I felt like I would have liked to have more.
Just outside the museum is Kobe Tower. Does every city in Japan have a tower with an observation deck? This one is fairly unique, unlike the several towers that look similar to the Eiffel Tower. It was built in 1963 and is 108 meters tall. There's a restaurant and rotating cafe on a couple floors and observation decks on the rest.

Meriken Park is also where you can board sightseeing cruises around the bay. One to two hour cruises run between 1100 and 3300 yen. Look for the terminal just west of Kobe Tower. The east side of the park has a small memorial to the 1995 earthquake with some preserved ruins.

Admission to both sides of the Maritime Museum is 600 yen, and admission to Kobe Tower is 700 yen. A ticket for both the museum and the tower is only 1000 yen. The museum is open 10:00-17:00, closed on Monday. Kobe Tower is open 9:00-21:00.

Meriken Park is 10 minutes south of Motomachi Station.
Harborland, a shopping, restaurant, and entertainment district, is just across the cruise terminal - head toward the Ferris wheel. There are two small shopping malls with lots of places to eat and a new Anpanman museum. Anpanman is a famous children's cartoon character here.

And Kobe Chinatown, a small district with lots of shopping, restaurants, and food stands, is five minutes north, halfway between Motomachi Station and Meriken Park. Chinatown has a lot of typical Chinese foods, like ramen, steamed buns, and tapioca drinks, though many of the things found here, like elsewhere in Japan, have been tweaked to cater to Japanese tastes.

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