Wagaya no Umino-hi;
Our Marine Day Experience


As I was born and brought up in the port town of Kobe, the sea has been familiar to me since I was very young. My house was on a hill and I had a commanding view of Kobe Port and Port Tower from my room every day. When it was clear, I could see even the Kii Peninsula over Osaka Bay.


When I was a child, I looked forward to “Minato-no-Matsuri” (the Port Festival) held every year.
On the festival day, the municipal schools in Kobe City were closed, so I enjoyed the festivals with my family. “Minato-no-Matsuri” started in 1933 (Showa 8th yr) for the purpose of dispelling a nationwide depression. This festival continued until 1970 (Showa 45th yr) with several years’ suspension during and after World War ll. Various events were held such as ceremonies, parades and the introduction of the Port Queen (a winner of the Kobe Beauty Contest). I liked Hana-densha best of all, which were Kobe public streetcars decorated with illuminations, artificial flowers and many other ornaments. When I was an elementary school student, I joined the parade as a member of the calligraphy class with other members. We wore a white yukata (casual cotton kimono for summer or sleeping) and wrote calligraphy with a brush and ink on each other’s yukata while parading.

1967年(昭和42年)には「神戸開港100周年記念祭」、そしてその前夜祭として「神戸カーニバル」が開催されました。1971年(昭和46年)に「神戸まつり」が5月中旬の金・土・日曜日の3日間を中心に開催されるようになりました。1996年(平成8年)、7月20日が海の日として国民の祝日になり、「神戸まつり」はこの日を中心として開催されるようになりました。2002年(平成14年)からは「神戸まつり」は再び5月開催されることになりました。神戸に夏まつりを残そうと神戸青年会議所が企画して、同年「Kobe Love Port ・ みなとまつり」が始まりました。それ以来、毎年海の日とその前日に神戸港のメリケンパークで開催されています。

In 1967 (Showa 42nd yr), “The Kobe Memorial Festival of the 100th anniversary of the Opening of the Port” was held, and “The Kobe Carnival” was also held on its eve.In 1971 (Showa 46th yr), ‘Kobe Festival’ started to be held on and around three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in the middle of May.
In 1996 (Heisei 8th yr), July 20th was designated as a national holiday, Umi-no-hi (Marine Day), so “Kobe Festival” started to be held on and around this day. In 2002 (Heisie 14th yr), the date of “Kobe Festival” went back to May. The members of the Kobe Youth Chamber of Commerce wanted to continue the summer festival held in Kobe, so they planned and organized “Kobe Love Port・Port Festival” in the same year. It has been held in Meriken Park of Kobe Port on and before Umi-no-hi every year since then.


On Marine Day in 2015 (Heisei 27th yr), I went to the 14th “Kobe Love Port・Port Festival”.
The sky was deep blue and really beautiful, and it was very hot, but the sea-breeze made me feel pleasant.


When I arrived at the park, Myuji-san and other artists were giving a concert on the stage. His father, Mr. Masahiro Kuwana, was a singer and passed away in 2012 (Heisei 24th) and his mother, Ms. Ann Lewis, was also a popular singer. Both were my favorite stars in my youth. Myuji-san sung his father’s famous song, “Tsuki-no-Akari” (Moonlight) which I liked the best of all his father’s songs. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel as if I was taken back to my college days. Sometime later after the concert, I had a good chance to meet him, and he friendly shook hands with me, talked and posed for photos.


Many Yuru-chara-san welcomed us in the park and made not only children but also adults smile. Yuru-chara is an abbreviation for “Yurui masucot character”: “Yurui” means cute and relaxed. It is a performer in costumes of a cute and unsophisticated, sometimes amateurish, mascot character which is created to promote regions, events, organizations or business. Despite the “Yurui” appearance, a performer in heavy and thick costume has a difficult job. It was very hot and humid on Marine Day; therefore, I was worried about the performers.


There were events such as rescue lectures and shows of FMX (free style motocross show). Visitors looked very excited with new precious events. Especially, it was a perfect day to board a pleasure helicopter. Colorful playing spots were also opened to entertain children. I was glad to find the fund-raising booth for the Great East Japan Earthquake.


A voyage experience was held on a training ship: Kaigi-maru, a harbor service boat: Kikusui, a traffic boat: Harukaze and four motorboats anchored at the port by the Kobe Port Association. Moreover, a public opening was held on a patrol ship: Fudo, a fireboat: Tachibana, a fishing training ship: Tanshu-maru, a fishing control ship: Shirasagi, a sea surface cleaning and oil recovery vessel: Dr. Kaiyo, a sea surface cleaning vessel: Seiko-maru and a patrol boat: Kobe at other places of Kobe Port.


I went inside one of them, the Tanshu Maru, a training ship of Kasumi High School. The white ship and colorful flags were beautifully shining against the blue sky and sea. The crew members’ pleasant smiles and greetings made me happy though I was not a ship lover. Inside the ship was very clean and functional though it was a little narrow.


There were many food stalls, and I bought sparkling sake (Japanese rice wine) like champagne and mangoes from Miyazaki Prefecture for my family. Appetizing smells came from the stalls such as fried chicken, yaki-tori (grilled chicken on skewers), yaki-soba (fried noodle) and tako-yaki (wheat flour dumplings with octopus pieces inside), but it was too hot for me to eat outside, therefore I gave up eating those foods which wet my appetite and had lunch at the hotel next to the park.


After I enjoyed the festival, I went to the Kobe Maritime Museum, whose themes are the history and future of the sea, ships and ports, in Meriken Park. This museum started as the Kobe International Port Museum in 1962 (Showa 37th yr). In 1987 (Showa 62nd yr), it was reopened after remodeling as the Kobe Maritime Museum in commemoration of the “the 120th anniversary of Opening Kobe Port”. The external appearance of the museum with the images of white waves and sails attracted people, and the white building, blue sky and red Port Tower made a perfect contrast. The pictures of prizewinners of the marine picture competition were exhibited in the hall of the museum.


Kawasaki World which is attached to the Kobe Maritime Museum is the museum of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. The history and the most advanced technology of this company are exhibited inside. There are the Shinkansen Train, a helicopter, a ship and a robot manufactured by this company. In the motorcycle corner, many middle-aged men happily rode on the motorcycles and their photos were taken.


And then, I went up to Port Tower for the first time in more than 30 years. When visitors from other prefectures came to our place in my childhood, my parents took my sister and me besides the visitors to Kobe Port to go up Port Tower and join a Kobe Port sightseeing on an excursion ship that cruises around the bay. I could see my parents’ house on the hill from the observation decks. Kobe Port is full of my memories of the good old days.


(Back to “The Marine Day”

Copyright (C) Azure Global Network Services. All Rights Reserved.