Your Guide For a Day Trip to Kobe
Introduction to Kobe
Kobe is often overlooked for sightseeing being that they are primarily known for Kobe beef, but there is so much more to explore there. There's a gorgeous waterfall and if you climb a little further up a mountain you can also view a beautiful river. On top of that there's a rope way that goes over a beautiful garden and autumn leaves in the fall. Finally, there's Kobe beef and a Soba museum that you can visit as well as a China town area when you're looking to see more of the city.
KobeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Nunobiki falls is just a short walk from Shin-Kobe station and there are enough trails and activities to keep you busy for the whole day. I would recommend providing yourself enough time to explore the area. You could easily spend the better part of a day here.
There are several different waterfalls that you can see. The smaller one had a much flatter path whereas the larger waterfall had a long staircase leading up. I personally decided to see the larger waterfall and it was a beautiful view in fall despite the cold. They have seating areas where you can get a clear view of the waterfall and the dense grouping of trees framing the area just above the waterfall.
If you take one of the paths up there's also an overlook where you can view Kobe city.
In another direction is the popular monkey bridge, also known as Sarunokazura Bridge. The namesake comes not from any monkeys lurking around but rather the vines you will see all around the bridge.
I would allow yourself at least 2 hours to explore this area if possible to get the full experience, but if you just want to see one of the waterfalls it's about a 20 to 30 minute hike each way.
Nunobiki FallsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Hidden Waterfall and Nunobiki Reservior
If you follow the path heading towards the Gohonmatsu dam, you may be lucky enough to say what is referred to as the hidden waterfall. It's called so because the waterfall does not always flow. Depending on when you visit it may be running dry that day.
After you pass the hidden waterfall and the dam, you will get to see the beauty of Nunobiki Reservior. The water is a beautiful sight to behold in the day and is a great place for those who enjoy taking pictures as well.
Hidden Waterfall and Nunobiki ReservoirClick thumbnail to view full-size
Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway
This particular area is full of walking trails, an arboretum, flower and herb gardens, and even a scenic lunch spot complete with hammocks. It's a great place to go at the end of summer and beginning of fall and if you prefer to do a little less walking there's a rope way that goes all the way up and stops at a half-way point as well.
Nunobiki Herb Garden
Once you go a little further along the path, you can follow a walking path to Nunobiki Herb Garden. The main entrance will take you to the middle rope way exit and you can either continue walking or take the rope way the rest of the way up.
Towards the entrance, you will see the middle station for the rope way. There are also some photo spots and hammocks that make the entrance perfect for lunch outdoors or some time to relax if you need a break from hiking uphill.
Once you start to head further up towards the glass house, you will see several gardens including an oriental garden and Kaze no Oka flower garden.
Once you pass these gardens there is an all-season garden with many foreign plants and a gorgeous waterfall terrace. Many of the placards say what each plant is in English and Japanese.
In that same area you will see the glasshouse. I highly recommend taking a tour through this building since there is so much to see.
If you travel by foot, the entrance to the garden is free. However, if you travel using the rope way there is an additional fee for the garden. The adult fares for the rope way is as follows:
Rope way Cost (including Herb Garden Admission):
Round-trip (Adult): ¥1,400
One-way (Adult): ¥900
Rope way Hours of Operation:
Up (Bottom station to Middle or Top station / Middle station to Top station)
Open- 9:30- 16:45 (*20:15 for evening opening days)
Down (Top station to Middle or Bottom station/ Middle station to Bottom station)
Closed - 17:15 (*21:00 for evening opening days)
Herb Garden Opening Hours **(Only the top observatory area is open after 17:00)**
Time of Year
Monday to Friday
Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays
Mar. 20 - Jul. 19
10:00 - 17:00
10:00 - 20:30
Jul. 20 - Aug. 31
Sep. 1 - Nov. 30
10:00 - 17:00
10:00 - 20:30
Dec. 1 - Mar. 19
10:00 - 17:00
10:00 - 17:00
Rope way Ticket Pricing
Elementary / Junior high school students
Free of charge
Free of charge
Nunobiki Herb GardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
The next place I recommend visiting is the glasshouse. In the fall, it's an excellent escape from the cold and in the summer it's a great place to relax and get a view of the city.
Since I arrived around the end of November, they had some decorations for Christmas. The building was warm even in the cold of fall because of the greenhouse.
In the greenhouse they have several plants from banana trees to hibiscus flowers. They also have a small man-made stream of water and a tiny bridge running through the greenhouse. At the edge there is a small fountain with statues standing right at the center.
When you walk out onto the terrace, you immediately can see an excellent view of Kobe city, so it's a great place to relax or take pictures. You can also soak your feet in the foot bath.
The foot bath itself is free. However, you can also get foot towels for an additional fee. I believe it's about 100 yen or 200 yen. Please note that you should try to keep your time in the bath to a maximum of 15 minutes at a time.
Once you've finished bathing your feet, you can get back into the building and take a look at the spice museum upstairs. You can see a variety of spices with a pestle and mortar as well as several tools of the trade that are used to make the spices and grind them down for use.
After you've finished with the museum, you can head over to the cafe. They have in and outdoor seating and if you get a seat by the window you can get an excellent view of Kobe city and maybe even the cable cars moving along the rope way.
GreenhouseClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Herb Gardens and the Rope way
Once you leave the greenhouse, you can head further up the path and along the way you can see the herb gardens. The have just about any sort of spice you can imagine. Even in Autumn several of the plants are still growing.
There wasn't as much seating here, but there was a nice lookout where you can get an excellent view of the greenhouse and can stop to take some pictures.
Once you get to the top station you will see several food booths, the herb garden, and a souvenir shop where you can buy tickets for the rope way. I personally did not get a chance to see the herb garden at the top since it was close to closing, but one of the people I met along the way let me know it was worth checking out for next time.
However, I did take the rope way down. It was definitely worthwhile. Especially in fall when all the leaves are changing colors. You can even get a view of the bigger waterfall if you weren't able to walk up to it earlier. I highly recommend taking the rope way down.
Herb Garden and RopewayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Getting Kobe Beef
Last but not least, you may want to go try some Kobe beef or get some dinner. If you're like me and want to try it without being too expensive. I personally liked the beef from the Rump Cap. It's right near Soba Frontier International Tourist Restaurant. I found that the price was reasonable and the steak was very good.
The price was about 2800 yen for about 4 ounces of steak. You can make it into a meal for an extra 300 yen. Keep in mind there was a small cover charge. I believe it was about 400 yen. Personally, I found the staff was very nice and the food was delicious.
The highest rating place I found on Tripadvisor for Kobe Beef is Tor Road steak Aoyama. However, they were fully booked when I went, so if you want to go there you may want to try to reserve a table in advance.