Friday, January 23, 2015

Japan Day 8: {Kobe} Meriken Park

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We spent the morning with a leisurely walk around the Kitano district, and then after a failed attempt to locate a teppanyaki restaurant for our Kobe steak lunch, we resigned ourselves to just enjoying what Kobe Chinatown had to offer. To be truthful, visiting the Nankin-Machi wasn't on our plans because what I feel about Chinatown is that once you've seen one, you've seen them all! Di ba? Except for that one time when I visited Singapore's Chinatown.  

So anyway, after lucnh we took the kids next to Meriken Park since I wanted to let the kids see the extent of the damage brought about by the 1995 Kobe earthquake. In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, which killed over 6,000 people and made hundreds of thousands people homeless, and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. It was one of the costliest natural disasters in modern history. The earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale and reduced entire neighborhoods to rubbles.

Meriken Park is just walking distance from Motomachi, a covered shopping street in Kobe... almost like Osaka's Shinsaibashi. I was very careful to not let my teen wander off too far; shopping and teens are a very dangerous mix.:)
There are variety of shops ranging from cosmetic stores, boutiques, patisseries, restaurants.

Like everywhere else in Japan, the streets are clean, almost immaculately so!

Here we are at the harbor

Meriken Park is a waterfront park in Kobe's port area. It is home to Kobe's iconic architecture such as the red Kobe Port Tower and the Kobe Maritime Museum.

The name "Meriken" is actually a take-off from the word "American" in reference to the port where foreign good, mostly American, landed.

One of the most interesting features of Meriken Park is the Earthquake Memorial, which is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake that devastated the city. It shows the preserved damage sites from the earthquake, featuring broken concrete, railings, and lamp posts in various positions of disarray.
Visuals explain the extent and recovery of Kobe from one of Japan's biggest disasters.

While this area is not really a top tourist attraction, I wanted the kids to see this and realize that in life, with persistence and resiliency, anyone can get through a major set-back, and still come through the experience on top - none the worse for wear!

A small section of the damaged waterfront has been retained as a reminder of the earthquake's destructive power.

The Kobe Port Tower is famous as a symbol of Kobe.  The tower was opened in 1963, and won several architecture awards for its unique design.  Due to its clever structure, it is one of the few to survive the earthquake.  

It's our 8th day already of non-stop walking and the kids have been very cooperative.  I figured it's a good time to let them run around freely for a few minutes... while C and I used the time to rest our tired legs. Meriken Park is a good place to relax and just enjoy some chill time. There are a lot of benches, and the cool breeze of the harbour makes it hard for us to leave.

On our way back to the train station, we saw a long queue outside on store. Of course, I couldn't walk by just like that. I have to find out what the long line is for...

Kobe beef pala! All packed in boxes, ready for pasalubong!

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Click here to read ALL my JAPAN posts.