By Noro Randria
The Kobe Port Tower is a widely-known landmark of Kobe City, in Hyogo Precture. The tall, red structure set beside the seashore functions both as a welcome mark to incoming visitors, and also serves as a domestic symbol of Kobe.
The tower is 108 meters (354 feet) high, with the highest observation platform at 90 meters. Its hourglass-like shape was designed in the image of a tsuzumi, a traditional Japanese hand drum with dual drum heads. It was built by making use of a pipe lattice design. Construction on the tower was completed in 1963. It was awarded a prize by the Architectural Institute of Japan in that year. Following renovations in 2009 - 2010, it was fitted with 7,000 LED lights which light up to make more than 40 lighting effects at night.
The tower is made up of several floors with different features. One floor contains a slowly-revolving restaurant that does a full rotation every 20 minutes. Several floors offer full, 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding cityscape and seascape. Another floor contains the "Skywalk," see-through floor panels that allows you to gaze past your feet and all the way down to the ground far below (not for the faint of heart). And of course, what would a tourist attraction be without a souvenir shop and a place for lovers to buy and hang a lock to symbolize the everlasting permanence of love?
The view from the tower is especially beautiful. On one side is the open sea, full of ship traffic going to and from the ports below. On the other side is the very pretty skyline of the City of Kobe, with a gorgeous mountain range hovering behind it. The scenery is truly fantastic.
The admission cost for the Kobe Port Tower is 700 yen for adults, and 300 yen for children. It's open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. between the months of March and November, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from December to February. There are also combo tickets to both the tower and the nearby Maritime Museum for a slight discount.
The tower is located within Meriken Park. It is about a 12-minute walk from Motomachi Station (JR Kobe Line, Hanshin Main Line) or a 5-minute walk from Minato Motomachi Station (Kaigan Subway Line).
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