When you think of Kobe, Japan what comes to mind? If you’re like us, probably only Kobe beef! While that itself is a great reason to visit, there is so much more to the city than we thought. One hidden surprise is the Nunobiki Herb Garden!
About a 15-20 minute walk North from the Kobe-Sannomiya Station or a 5 minute walk from the Shin-Kobe JR Station is the Nunobiki bottom ropeway station. The Nunobiki Herb Garden is located on Mount Rokkō. In order to reach the Herb Garden, you must take a scenic ropeway ride up which costs 1500 yen for a round-trip. You also have the (CRAZY) option of a one-way ticket up and walking down, but more on that later.
Anyone afraid of heights may have to think twice about going to Nunobiki Herb Garden. While we are sure the ropeway is completely safe and secure, you inevitably will be pretty high up from the ground throughout your scenic trip up the mountain. And with floor to ceiling glass walls on each ropeway car, you will see EVERYTHING. If you are scared of heights, like Ann, just be prepared.
Highlights of Nunobiki Herb Garden
After your ropeway ride up the mountain side to the top station, you will arrive at the View Rest House & Plaza. Up here, you have the gift shop, a restaurant, food stands, and most importantly, great views of Kobe and the harbor!
This was a great place for us to unwind a bit while enjoying the view. This being an Herb Garden and all, the gift shop sold herbal teas, essential oils, dried herbs/spices, and plenty great stuff for gifts. The cookies and beers immediately caught our eye! We ended up getting a box of Honey Langue de Chat cookies and two different beers.
For all you cat lovers out there, Nunobiki Herb Garden also seems to be home to a few cats! They nonchalantly approached us while we were lounging and enjoying our cookies and beers.
About halfway down the Herb Garden’s pathways you will come across the Glasshouse. From it’s exterior, you would never think that it houses a whole tropical paradise! This was one of our favorite spots. Once you step inside the tropical garden area of the Glasshouse you feel transported to a different world.
All of the greenery and the sound of the trickling stream really set the mood of a tropical paradise. Although it’s not huge, it was fun walking through their mini paths and walking over small “streams”. Plenty of photo opportunities just in here alone!
Naptime in Nunobiki Herb Garden
Towards the end of the Nunobiki Herb Gardens is the Recreation Area. Perfect area to rest your feet and take in some views. They have hammocks set up all along this area for weary tourists to relax and take a nap! We certainly enjoyed them, maybe a bit too much…
Once you’re done relaxing at the hammocks, you’ll make your way past a flower garden and a fruit garden and finally reach the ropeway mid-station. At this point, those with round-trip tickets may take another scenic rope ride back down to where you started the journey. This is the end of the fun and relaxing Nunobiki Herb Garden adventure for most.
However if you happen to be like us and think “OH walking back seems fine, save some money/ Ann being too scared to go back on the rope ride” this is the start of a whole new adventure…
Post Nunobiki Mountainside Adventure
Let us tell you of our slightly terrifying adventure(hike?) down a Japanese mountain! Once you go past the Nunobiki Herb Garden mid-station and out the back gate, you are completely on your own. The only clue to our location and direction we needed to head was the above “map”.
Our starting point was that red dot towards the right side, a little below the large pond, and our end goal was the Shin-Kobe Station on the left side. Doesn’t look too bad right? Yeah this map was definitely not to scale! Thinking it would be faster, we took the roadside route instead of the scenic hiking trail…
While our path may have been shorter, it was definitely way more dangerous. We followed a winding narrow mountain road that had no sidewalks. Didn’t think there would be any cars on the road because it looked closed. We were wrong. Soon cars were coming down the mountain road with only about a foot of clearance between us and them.
Do You Believe in Ghosts?!
After what seemed like forever we finally found our first sign of an actual walking trail which we immediately detoured onto! While this new path was “safer” it was way more scary. Now we were on a walking “trail” in the middle of the mountain forest with fading daylight, steep stairways down, and no lights whatsoever.
Literally felt like a scene out of a creepy horror movie! Every sound or rustle of leaves sent shivers down our spines. Was it a ghost or a Japanese forest spirit?! With every sound our pace increased. Finally our first sign of civilization at the end of the trail was this…
It may sound funny, but we were SOOOOO glad to find these bathrooms! And shortly after was a small bridge taking us out of the forest area and back to the Shin-Kobe station. Finally our scary adventure was over. Looking back at it now it seems pretty funny, but it makes for a great story!
TL;DR – Nunobiki Herb Garden
Anyways sorry for that whole essay of a post, we had a lot to say about our adventure haha. Moral of the story, YES you should visit the Nunobiki Herb Garden! Great scenic views, lots of nature, plenty of places to relax along the way; just make sure to get that round-trip ticket and don’t have a scary mountain trek like us!