Kobe's towering mountain backdrop offers stunning views, museums, outdoor fun and a European ambiance

Located to the southeast of Hyogo Prefecture is the Rokko mountain range. This is one of the prefecture's main tourist destinations, for its international history, excellent hiking trails, and unbeatable views of Kobe and Osaka .

Easily accessible from Kobe or just an hour from downtown Osaka, the Rokko mountains provide a great escape for travelers taking a break from the busy cities.

Don't Miss

  • Making cheese, butter or ice cream at Rokkosan Pasture
  • A spectacular sunset view of Osaka Bay from the highest peak's observation platform
  • Learning about local mountain plants at the Alpine Botanical Garden

Quick Facts

Mt. Rokko is home to Japan's first golf course

The highest peak is 931.6 meters tall

Mt. Rokko isn't a single mountain, but a range of mountains stretching 56 kilometers along the coast

How to Get There

You can hike, bus, or take the ropeway up the mountain from Kobe City .

There are a number of ways to get up the mountain ranges; however, the most popular method is by cable car. From Sannomiya Station, ride the Hankyu Kobe Line to Rokko Station; from there, it's an easy and regular ten-minute ride on the #16 bus to the base station of the Rokko Cable Car. You can also take the #16 bus from JR Rokkomichi Station and Hanshin Mikage Station. From the base station, a hike up the mountain is also possible. From the top cable car station, the Rokko Sanjo bus travels between the area's major attractions.

History

Composed mostly of granite, it's believed that the Mt. Rokko mountain network formed around one million years ago. Once covered in lush foliage, the area was stripped of greenery over 100 years ago. Since then there have been several initiatives to restore the forests.

In 1895, English trader Arthur H. Groom, a foreign resident of Kobe, discovered the area during a hunting trip and decided that it would make an excellent location for a summer house. After building a small British-style cottage, he began to promote the area and it grew in popularity, eventually resulting in the country's first golf course being built on the mountain in 1903.

The highest peak

Although technically not a single mountain, but rather a cluster of mountain ranges, Mt. Rokko does have a mountain peak named Rokko Saikoho (literally, "Rokko's highest peak"), which towers 931.6 meters high. Thanks to its height, this point can be seen from both Kobe and Osaka , which has made it a shared symbol for both cities. Similarly, you can see both cities should you scale to the top.

Look out over Kobe and Osaka

At the top of the Rokko cable car coming from Kobe City is the Mount Rokko Tenrandai, an observation platform where guests can view the urban sprawl of Osaka Bay below. Open throughout the day and in the evening, this unparalleled viewpoint offers incredible views no matter what time you visit. The nighttime view is popularly referred to as Japan's "10 million-dollar view."

Home to a number of gift shops as well as a cafe with scenic outdoor seating and local craft beer and sake, an evening in Kobe is perfectly capped by a trip up to the observatory.

Try your hand at farm life

One of the mountain's more unique sites is Mt. Rokko Ranch, home to a collection of barns and red brick silos, and providing pasture for dairy cattle, sheep, horses, and more.

Here on the ranch, you can get up close with a number of the four-legged locals, and experience Japanese farming firsthand. Home to the Kobe Cheese Museum, visitors can try freshly squeezed milk, and try making simple dairy products like ice cream and butter using milk farmed at the ranch.

See unique alpine plant life

With its cool average temperatures, Mt. Rokko's summit provides an excellent climate for the cold-weather region plants in Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden.

Established in 1933, the garden features approximately 1,500 types of wild plants, and is divided into a number of different sections including a rock garden, hygrophytes, and woodland. For those who want to learn more, the garden screens multiple slides educating guests on the flowers that bloom in the area throughout the seasons.

Marvel at intricate music boxes

Nearby the alpine gardens is the Rokko International Music Box Museum. The gallery offers an impressive display of 19th and 20th-century music boxes, and you can make your very own music box to take home. The laid-back cafe is a good spot to have some tea in mountain surroundings.

The Garden Terrace and Country House

Two further points of interest worth exploring while you're in the area are the Rokko Garden Terrace and the Rokko Country house, both very European in feel. Rokko Garden Terrace has a few shops and dining options looking out over the amazing views. Nearby, Home Lookout Tower offers a 360-degree view of the area below.

The Kobe Golf Course, Japan's first, is still in full operation. Rokko Country House has a scenic mini-golf course. If you are not into golf, you can enjoy pedal boating, fishing, go-carts, and even skiing when the weather permits.

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