Meriken Park was built in 1987 to commemorate the 120th year of the opening of the Port of Kobe to foreign trade. It is built on reclaimed land that was created between the Nakatottei and Meriken Piers.
The word “Meriken” is derived from the clipped pronunciation of “American”, which the locals heard and then used as the word for “American” during the late 19th century. At that time, because the American Consulate General in Kobe was located close to the present park area, the name “Meriken” was first given to the pier and now the current park.
The Kobe Maritime Museum is the symbol of Meriken Park. The lacy, white, steel frame built on top of the Museum’s roof symbolizes the billowing sail of a clipper ship and an ocean wave. This steel frame creates a stunning contrast against the vivid red Kobe Port Tower and the lush green of the Rokko Mountain Range in the background.
Inside the Museum is an excellent exhibition of displays and updated images depicting what the Port of Kobe looked like when it was first opened to foreign trade, and what the Port of Kobe is forecast to look like in the future. The exhibition is based on three themes, which are “sea”, “ship”, and “port”.
A 60-meter section of a pier that was damaged during the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, or Kobe Earthquake, has been left as a reminder of the tragedy and as a memorial to the thousands of victims who perished in the Earthquake. This part of the Park is maintained “as is” to show future generations the extensive devastation that the Earthquake caused, and the rapid recovery that occurred afterward.
The Museum has an exhibition also on the Earthquake, showing the tremendous shaking that occurred.