Japan City Guides: Port Island Kobe
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Port Island Kobe ポートアイランド
Finished in 1981 after 15 years of construction, Port Island is a man-made island in Kobe.
True to its name, the island is home to a container port as well as the new Kobe Airport and a ferry port connecting to Kansai International Airport.
About 15,000 people live on Port Island, though the apartment blocks are already starting to look run down.
Port Island, Kobe is home to about 15,000 people
Kobe Women's University is located on the island as well as a campus of Kobe Gakuin University.
The Kobe Convention Center, consisting of an International Conference Center and International Exhibition Hall, hosts many international conferences, and several hotels, including Kobe Portopia, accommodate visitors.
For visitors, Port Island has several sites of interest, the most popular of which for Japanese seems to be Japan's largest IKEA store. A free shuttle bus runs to Ikea from Sannomiya station.
Ikea Store, Port Island, Kobe
The Kobe Science Museum including a planetarium has lots of hands-on experiences for kids and adults and is open from Thursday through Tuesday. Museum entrance is 600yen and the planetarium is 400yen. Open 9:00am to 16:30pm weekdays, and until 19:00pm on weekends and holidays.
The UCC coffee company's new headquarters is located on the island and includes a Coffee Museum with displays on the history of coffee as well as "how to prepare tasty coffee". Entrance is 210 yen and it's open 10:00am to 17:00pm every day except Mondays.
The Kobe Flower and Bird Garden is a little expensive, but is mostly indoors so might be worth a visit if the weather is not good. Parrots and penguins are the specialty. Open 9:00am to 17:00pm all year round, it's 1,500yen or 700yen for young kids.
The Tasaki Pearl Company has a small, free museum displaying pearls. Open 9:00am to 18:00pm all year round.
Port Island is reached by the Portliner, a driverless train system, the first in Japan. It runs from Sannomiya Station to Kobe Airport with a loop running around the island.
UCC Coffee Museum, Port Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe
Port Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe
There is a direct jet-foil boat to Kansai International Airport (KIX) from the Kobe City Air Terminal (KCAT) on Port Island, with buses to Sannomiya. There are also ferries to Beppu in Kyushu and also to Shikoku and Awaji Island. Ferries arrive and depart from Naka Pier, next to Port Tower, about 10 minutes south of Motomachi Station.
Portopia, Port Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe
Kobe Airport, named "Marine Air", opened February 2006 on a reclaimed island just south of Port Island.
The new airport has flights to and from seven cities: Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Naha (Okinawa), Niigata, Sapporo, Sendai and Tokyo (Haneda).
The flights are operated by JAL, ANA and Skymark. Flights run between 7am and 9pm.
The airport can be reached by PortLiner automated train from Sannomiya (320 yen; 16 minutes), bus, car or speed boat (30 minutes) from Kansai International Airport (service to open later in 2006). Car parking fees are presently free for 1 day and 1,000 yen per day thereafter.
Text + images Jake Davies