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. There is also a ferry port on Port Island that connects to Kansai International Airport.
Port Island also has extensive housing in the form of apartment buildings, with a population of about 15,000.
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 600 yen and the planetarium is 400 yen. Open 9:30am-4.30pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 9.30am-7pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Minami-koen Station.
The UCC coffee company's 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 300 yen and it's open 10am to 5pm every day except Mondays. Minami-koen Station.
Kobe Animal Kingdom is a mostly indoors attraction where visitors can get close up with birds and animals. Parrots and penguins are the specialty. Open 9:00am to 17:00pm all year round. 1,500 yen or 800 yen for young chldren. Kei Computer Mae Station.
Port Island also has Japan's largest IKEA store. A free shuttle bus runs between Ikea and Sannomiya station.
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.
For visitors, Port Island has several sites of interest.
The JR shinkansen bullet train stops at Shin-Kobe Station. About 1km south of Shin-Kobe Station is Sannomiya Station, the main rail hub for intercity Hankyu, Hanshin and JR trains to Osaka and Kyoto. From Sannomiya Station, the driverless, automated Port Liner train provides access to Port Island and, beyond it, to Kobe Airport.
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 and Awaji Island (from Akashi). Ferries arrive and depart from Naka Pier, next to Port Tower, about 10 minutes south of Motomachi Station.
Kobe Airport, named "Marine Air", opened February 2006 on a reclaimed island just south of Port Island. Kobe 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.
Kobe Airport can be reached by PortLiner automated train from Sannomiya (320 yen; 16 minutes), bus, car or jetfoil (30 minutes) from Kansai International Airport. Car parking fees are presently free for 1 day and 1,000 yen per day thereafter.
Text + images Jake Davies