Kobe Port Tower in Kobe, Japan. Photo by Brett Homenick.
On May 31, during my three-day trip to the Kansai area, I made a special stop in Kobe, and while I certainly enjoyed sampling some authentic Kobe beef, my main purpose was to visit Kobe Port Tower, about a 20-minute walk from Motomachi Station.
Why did I want to visit this particular building? For me, it's one of the most iconic locations in any kaiju movie. (Your mileage may vary, of course.) While Kobe Port Tower is featured prominently in episode 15 of Ultra Seven (1967-68), I'm much more familiar with it from its appearance in Gamera vs. Barugon (1966). Barugon destroys the tower with the monster's massive tongue shortly after it lands in Kobe.
I first saw the scene sometime in the late 1980s as it was featured in Gamera Super Monster (1980), and at the time, I remember thinking that the tower was a pretty strange-looking building. It's stood out to me ever since, and when I came to Japan, it was always on my list as a place to visit.
While walking around the observation deck of the tower, I noticed the above sign. I figured Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans would get a kick out of it, especially since Gamera vs. Barugon was one of the earliest films featured on the show. I may not be an MST3K fan, but even I found the connection amusing.
The view of Kobe from the observation deck of Kobe Port Tower. Photo by Brett Homenick.
All in all, I enjoyed my brief visit to Kobe, and I'm glad I can finally scratch Kobe Port Tower off my to-do list. It was a lot of fun visiting this iconic location from my childhood years in person.