Hyogo: Landmark Kobe Port Tower Reopens to Visitors after Major Renovations

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held at the foot of the reopened Kobe Port Tower on April 26.

KOBE — The landmark Kobe Port Tower has reopened following large-scale renovations.

The building, which was closed for two years and seven months, has been drawing many visitors, both local residents and tourists, who are enjoying the view from the newly built rooftop deck and walking around the revamped interior.

Kobe Port Tower was built by the Kobe municipal government on a pier at Kobe Port, opening on Nov. 21, 1963, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the port’s opening.

The Japan News

The inspiration for its construction came from a tower at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands which impressed then Mayor Chujiro Haraguchi, leading him to the idea of building such a symbolic tower.

The 108-meter-high tower features a distinctive design incorporating 32 red steel pipes and resembling a Japanese tsuzumi drum.

The structure was also built to suggest the image of a huge rattan chair, and it is often referred to as the “Beauty Queen Tower” for its lovely curves. The tower’s nighttime illumination brought color to the port.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bird’s eye view of Kobe Port Tower in Kobe

The tower survived the strong tremors of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Although suffering damage to its water supply, drainage pipes and other parts, it reopened about three months after the earthquake.

A total of more than 25 million people have visited the tower since its opening. However, in recent years the number of visitors has dropped to around 300,000 annually, less than half of what it was at its peak.

Kobe Waterfront Development, the managing organization of the tower, closed it in September 2021 and spent the next 2½ years renovating the aging tower.

The total renovation cost of ¥3.4 billion was paid by the municipal government. To make it more quake-resistant, the organization installed vibration absorption systems at two locations, one in the rooftop area and one in the mid-level floor.

New rooftop deck

On the upper floors of the tower, which visitors must pay to enter, a new cafe bar situated on a slowly rotating floor has been opened. Lower levels, which are free to enter, have restaurants, shops selling limited-edition products, and other facilities.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People look up at the steel framework of Kobe Port Tower from a cafe on the lower level.

The rooftop, which was previously closed, is now open to visitors. It sits about 100 meters above the ground and is encircled by glass panes, so visitors can feel the wind from the ocean as they take in 360-degree views of Kobe Port and Rokko Mountains.

Yomiuri Shimbun photos
Visitors observe a 360-degree view of Kobe and its surroundings from the rooftop deck on April 23.

At the tower’s reopening ceremony on April 26, Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said, “I hope many people visit the new facility even more full of love for Kobe, and feel the charm of this city.”

The tower is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. To promote night tourism, the business hours have been extended by two hours from before the renovation. To enter the observation floor, which includes the rooftop deck, visitors need to buy tickets for a specific date and time. The admission fee for the observation and rooftop areas is ¥1,200 for adults and ¥500 for elementary and junior high school students. Admission is free for preschool children.