Port Kobe is the cruise port that also serves Osaka City and Kyoto City. Kobe City is located on Honshu Island's southern coast and on Osaka Bay's northern shore. Kobe City is Japan's 6th largest by population (over 1,5 million) and also Hyogo Prefecture's capital. The city is part of the Keihanshin Metropolis (together with Kyoto and Osaka) with combined population over 19 million. By population, the metropolis is ranked Japan's 2nd largest (after Tokyo - world's largest, population around 37 million) and one of world's biggest (following after NYC New York - over 20 million).
Osaka City (population over 2,6 million) is located approx 30 km (19 mi) east of Kobe. Kyoto City (population around 1,5 million) is located in the island's central part and to the northeast of Kobe (travel distance approx 80 km / 50 mi, or around 1,5 hours). Osaka is located at Yodo River's mouth (Osaka Bay). This is a merchant port city famous for its food and sake (made with fresh water from the mountains). Osaka's food popularity is due to high-quality ingredients and the huge number of merchants serving the market.
Great Hanshin earthquake (aka Kobe earthquake) started on January 16, 1995. It had 6,9 Richter magnitude and lasted for approx 20 seconds. Its focus was on the northern end of Awaji Island, approx 20 km (12 ml) away from downtown Kobe. The disaster resulted in 6434 deaths (~4600 from Kobe City) and severe buildings and infrastructure damages. Nearly 400,000 buildings were destroyed, as well as numerous road and rail bridges. The triggered by the earthquake 300+ fires raged over the city. In the seaport were destroyed 120 of its 150 quays.
Port Kobe is a large seaport serving the Osaka metro area. As flatlands here are limited, nearby were constructed several artificial islands, including Port Island, Rokko Island, Kobe Airport Island. The port was opened for foreign trade in 1858 and officially inaugurated in 1868 (named then "Hyogo Port"). The port has 34 containership berths, 2 cruise terminals, total area approx 3,9 km2 (1,5 ml2) and max draft (water depth) 18 m / 59 ft. Before the 1995 earthquake, Port Kobe was ranked world's 6th-largest containership port (by annual throughput).
Port Kobe is managed by Kobe City Government. Kobe Port Terminal Corporation is responsible for all terminals (container, cruise and ferry).
- Rokko Island Ferry Terminals have 3 berths (RF1, RF2, RF3), quay length 193 m (RF1) and 266 m (RF2) and area 17,390 m2 (RF1) and 24,920 m2 (RF2). These terminals are operated by Hankyu Ferry Company serving the Kobe-Shinmoji route. RF3 terminal (operated by Shikoku Kaihastu Ferry) has quay length 238 m and area 22,690 m2.
- Rokko Island Container Terminals have 4 berths, total area 612,500 m2 and max draft 14 m (46 ft). Three berths have quay length 350 m, the 4th is 530 m. Berths' operators are Nitto Total Logistics, Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation, UNI-X Corporation, Nippon Container Terminals Co Ltd.
- Port Island Container Terminals have 6 berths and total area 786,880 m2.
- Port Island’s Passenger Terminals have max draft 10 m (33 ft) and quay length 200 m. The combined area is sized 241,345 m2, plus transit covered area 68,926 m2.
- Port Kobe's two cruise terminals are named "Naka Pier Cruise Terminal" and "Kobe Port Terminal". Naka Pier handles medium-sized vessels and has berth length 286 m, max draft 9 m (30 ft) and average tidal range 1 m. Kobe Port Terminal has 6 berths, with total quay length 1238 m (649 plus 589).
Currently, Kobe is ranked Japan's 4th largest cargo port, connecting to over 500 seaports in 130 countries. Seaport's landscape is marked by Rokko Mountains (at its rear), which also protect it from the seasonal strong winds.
- Most popular waterfront tourist attractions are Harborland (1992-opened shopping district) and Meriken Park - an amusement park with Kobe Port Tower (opened in 1963) and Kobe Maritime Museum (themed on Japan's shipping and Kobe harbour's history).
- Port Island's construction started in 1966 and was completed in 1981.
- Kobe Ohashi Bridge (cable-stayed, main span 485 m / 1591 ft) was opened in 1992. It connects the artificial islands in Kobe-Osaka Bay.
- Meriken Park's construction started in 1983 and was completed in 1987.
- Harbour Highway was officially inaugurated in 1993.
As cruise ports, Osaka and Kobe are interlinked, Kobe being the main (largest) seaport, and Osaka - an alternative port. Port Osaka is visited by smaller-sized cruise vessels only. Often, passengers are transferred via buses between Kobe and Osaka, with passenger embarkation / disembarkation at Kobe port. Port Kobe is located close to an airport and a railway station serving high-speed trains.
In 2016, Port Osaka expanded its cruise berthing capacity by adding new bollards and fenders, so now it can handle world's largest passenger ships.
On March 13, 2017, Queen Elizabeth (Cunard) departed on its ever first itinerary leaving roundtrip from Kobe. The 7-day itinerary (March 13-20) came after the local municipal government asked Cunard to schedule a Kobe-based cruise as in 2017 the port celebrated its 150th anniversary. The itinerary included the Japanese ports Kagoshima, Busan, Hiroshima and Kochi. This "surprise cruise" became part of Queen Elizabeth's 2017 "World Cruise" roundtrip from Southampton (England UK).
On December 16, 2017, the port commemorated its 150-year anniversary with a charity concert at the Harborland, with Christmas songs performed live by a 40 trumpet ensemble.
In 2017, Port Kobe handled 118 cruise ship calls, which number jumped in 2018 to 140. The increase was attributed to three domestic cruise lines (Japan Cruise Line, Mitsui OSK, and NYK Cruises) including Kobe as call port consistently.
Kobe cruise terminal
The first Kobe cruise terminal was renovated in January 2006. It has CIQ Facilities, Immigration and Customs, adjacent shopping and entertainment complex. Naka Pier Cruise Terminal serves medium-sized ships. The boarding bridge can also serve disabled passengers.
Port Kobe cruise terminals
The second Kobe cruise terminal has some of the largest facilities in Western Japan. Shinko Pier 4 has all 6 berths (on both its sides and serves differently sized vessels. The passenger terminal is approx 5 min away from downtown. Kobe Domestic Airport and Kansai International Airport are easily accessible from the terminal. Next photo shows Kobe's Shinko Pier 4 Terminal (berths Q1,Q2, R, O1, O2, P).
Kobe Port Authority plans to install a luggage elevator in the building, also to renew its escalators, add more check-in booths and to expand the bus parking. Next photo shows Kobe's Oriental Hotel cruise pier (Meriken Park).
Kobe tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Kobe Meriken Park and Harborland: close to Kobe cruise port is the beautiful Meriken Park. The Harborland is a district for entertainment. Find amusement parks, shopping malls, theaters, restaurants, etc. it is accessible via Hanshin Motomachi or JR.
- Kitano Town: located in Kitano-cho Chuo-ku. Popular visitors’ spot with ijinkan (foreigners’ residences).
- Mt. Rokko, Rokko-san: take a breathtaking view of Kobe from the mountain top. Located in Rokkosan-cho Nada-ku.
- Nankin-machi (Chinatown): located in Sakae-machi-dori Chuo-ku is one of the biggest Chinatowns. The other big ones are Yokohama Chinatown and Nagasaki Chinatown.
- Kobe Luminarie: this is an annual event, usually in December. The illumination commemorates the Great Hanshin Earthquake from January 1995.
- Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum: Nada, Kobe’s westernmost region, is very famous with its Sake. This is a special type of wine made of rice. There are a lot of sake breweries where you can taste the typical drink.
- Nunobiki Falls: the most impressive Japanese waterfalls. They are located within 20 minutes walking distance from the Chuo-ku train station.
- Ikuta Jinja: historic religious site. According to a legend, it dates from the 3rd century.
- Himeji: World Cultural Heritage Site and National Treasure in Japan. “White Heron Castle” is also a popular name of the Himeji Castle.
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