An escape from the shopping-oriented crowds of Sannomiya and Motomachi (the center of Kobe) quiet Meriken Park, in effect a large pier jutting out into Osaka bay, is just a short walk directly south of JR (Japan Railway) Motomachi Station. The pier was toppled in the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, and in its reconstruction parts of the destroyed pier have been left as they are in a fascinating, tasteful display. By day or night the view of the the Rokko Mountain range is impressive, and the fresh sea air and calm waves more Zen than most temples these days. Chances are you'll be joined by young couples or old fishermen, and respite is the word of the day.
HOW TO GET THERE: take JR Kobe line to Motomachi station and walk south. Hanshin Railway or the Kobe Chikatetsu (subway) may also be used.