Kobe's mountain range features ancient onsen, a ropeway, herb gardens and a horse ranch
Located inland from the northern coast of Osaka Bay, the Rokko mountain range towers over Kobe. Behind Mt. Rokko is Arima Onsen , one of Japan's three oldest hot spring resorts, treasured for its healing waters for nearly 1,500 years.
- A healing soak in Arima Onsen's "gold" and "silver" hot spring waters
- Riding the Rokko Cable Car, which offers the best views of Kobe
- Playing 18 holes at Japan's oldest golf course
How to Get There
The Mt. Rokko and Arima Onsen areas are accessible via a combination of public transport options.
From central Kobe, take the Hankyu Kobe Line from Sannomiya Station to Rokko Station. This will take you to the base station for the Rokko Cable Car, the most common and easiest way to scale the mountainside.
From the top of Mt. Rokko, catch the Rokko Sanjo Bus to the Rokko-Arima Ropeway, which will take you on a scenic ride to Arima Onsen.
Arima Onsen is one of Japan's three oldest onsen, in use since the 7th century
Originally open only to emperors, Buddhist monks later opened healing centers here
The Rokko mountain area is home to Japanese Kiso horses, a unique breed
Riding the ropeway
The most popular way to ascend Mt. Rokko is the Rokko Cable Car, one of three services that transport guests up the southern side. Offering panoramic views of Kobe below, this climb is stunning both day and night.
Several small tourist attractions are arrayed along the mountainside climb. Originally a place where expatriates built summer cottages, the area expanded to include a number of extra sights and tourist hotspots.
Tour Mt. Rokko's attractions
Whether you're traveling by bus or on foot, you can stop and explore the mountain's herb garden, a music box museum and Japan's first golf course. Closer to the top is the Rokko Garden Terrace tourist complex, housing various cafes, restaurants and gift stores as well as an observation deck.
A ranch on Mt. Rokko—unusual horses and a cheese museum
The mountain is also home to a ranch, farm and petting zoo called Rokkosan Pasture. Run by Kobe City, the ranch is home to Japanese Kiso horses—a unique breed—as well as cattle, goats and other animals. You can enjoy horse and sheepdog shows, and even try your hand at making cheese or butter at their cheese museum.
Arima Onsen—Mt. Rokko's hidden healing side
Coming behind the mountain slopes on the ropeway, you'll find Arima Onsen , nestled in the forest on the opposite side of the mountain from Kobe City. A popular weekend getaway for Osaka and Kobe locals, this hot spring town is one of Japan's three oldest and houses a collection of public baths and private hot spring resorts.
Bathing in precious waters
Long valued by Buddhist monks as a place of comfort and healing, one of the most renowned aspects of Arima Onsen is its "gold water" (kinsen) and "silver water" (ginsen).
These two water types reportedly have different beneficial health properties. Kinsen is a golden brown, thanks to large deposits of iron, which is good for skin ailments and muscle pain. Ginsen is said to contain trace amounts of radium and carbonate, which helps cure various muscle and joint ailments.
You'll also find dozens of shrines and temples throughout the town, alongside some of the country's oldest and most charming inns.