February 05, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Hyōgo Prefecture (Kobe)

After spending the morning in Nara, we headed off to Kobe for one thing: STEAK DINNER!!!

Another couple in the same table offered to take a picture of us.
Yahoo! A non-selfie picture, finally!

Despite our half-day time limit, I'd say that we enjoyed our Kobe experience.

How to Get There

Kobe is the capital of the Hyōgo Prefecture, located west of Osaka. From Nara (depart from the Kintetsu-Nara Station), it takes approximately 1 hour and 24 minutes via train to get to Kobe (arrive at the Kobe-Sannomiya Station)

Screen capture from Hyperdia search.

Suggested route from Google Maps

Since Osaka is located right smack in the middle of Nara and Kobe, travel time to Kobe from Osaka should be significantly shorter. So for those planning for a whole-day itinerary in Kobe, you may also consider departing from Osaka (assuming that your accommodations are located there).

FAIR WARNING TO MY TROPICAL FRIENDS: Kobe is located by the bay area, so for those traveling during the colder months, I implore to you, bundle up!!! Kobe temperature tends to drop quite low after dusk, due to the cold winds coming from the bay.

What to Do

You mean, besides experiencing the heavenly delight that is the Kobe Steak?

Actually, there are a lot of tourist-y things to do in Kobe. We arrived at the city as the sun was going down, so we weren't able to do much sightseeing around the area. But I've read that Kobe is considered as one of the most attractive cities in Japan, located between the sea and the mountain ranges.

Since we were already pressed for time, we chose to visit one of the top tourist destinations of Kobe, the Shin-Kobe Ropeway.

Cable cars that take you to two stations up the Rokko Mountain Range.

The Shin-Kobe Ropeway is a cable car ride that takes you to two stations up the Rokko mountain chain. The first station is the middle station, where you can find the Nunobiki Herb Garden.

Operating Hours for the Herb Garden is from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. It was already past 5:30PM when we arrived at the ropeway station, and the attendant advised us that they were no longer accepting passengers going to the middle station. So, we waited until they open the station again, this time for passengers going to the observation deck.

View of Kobe city while going up the ropeway 

The current fare of the Shin-Kobe Ropeway is as such:
  • 1,400 JPY (round-trip inclusive of admission to Nunobiki Herb Garden)
  • 900 JPY (one-way inclusive of admission to Nunobiki Herb Garden)
  • 800 JPY (round-trip after 5:00PM - exclusive of admission to Nunobiki Herb Garden)

There is also an option to take the hiking trail up to the second station, where you can visit other tourist areas on the mountain. Two such areas are the Nunobiki Waterfall and the Miharashi Observatory. It would take around an hour to hike to the second station from the Shin-Kobe Ropeway Station.

Souvenir shops and al fresco food stalls can be found on the second station.

Some areas to visit when you reach the top include:
  • A general information area/ tourist information center
  • Souvenir shops
  • Food stalls
  • A Perfume Museum (I have no idea why)
  • Observation deck

There are no additional charges for staying in the area (except for buying souvenir items or food), so you can lounge around the second station as long as you want.

A view from the observation deck.
Seen on the foreground are the rooftops of the Nunobiki Herb Garden.

Since we weren't able to go into the Herb Garden, we just loitered around the second station area, taking pictures and taking in the sights. I think, we also bought a snack of pastries (or was it ice cream, I can't remember) to eat while killing time. We only bought snacks because we were planning to have dinner at Wakkoqu, which is actually walking distance from the Shin-Kobe Ropeway Station.

We eventually headed back down to the Shin-Kobe Ropeway Station as we needed to catch our reservation for Wakkoqu. Check out my other post for food options in Kobe. :)

A diorama of the area, found in the tourist information cener.
This shot features the miniature Nunobiki Herb Garden.

More pictures can be found in my photoblog and Flickr page.

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