With nearby mountains and plenty of parks and scenic attractions, Kobe is a pleasant city to explore by foot. Many of its tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other and there are routes further afield for those who want something more exerting. Whether you’re after a proper hike or a gentle stroll, there’s something to suit you in this roundup of some of the best walks in and around the city.
This picturesque walk suits beginners and seasoned walkers alike. It starts at the north entrance of Shin-Kobe station (you enter by going through an underpass underneath the station) and takes you along a marked uphill path route past three waterfalls that lead you up to the Nunobiki Herb Garden. From here, you can stop off at the herb garden – which is open from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – and get the cable car back down to the route start while enjoying the great scenery. For those that want to make a real hike of it, there is the option to continue along the marked trail on to the Nunobiki reservoir or even further to the likes of Futatabi or Nabebuta, soaking up the spectacular views of Osaka Bay. The basic walk is around 2 km but the full route stretches out to over 30 km.
Website: Nunobiki Herb Gardens & Ropeway
Mount Rokko is a hiking hotspot and one of the most popular tourist attractions for both Kobe and Osaka. The trail between Arima Onsen (Kobe) and Ashiya is around 16 km and can be completed in around 4-5 hours. It doesn’t involve hiking of too much difficulty so can be tackled by beginners. Starting at Arima Onsen, the location of Japan’s oldest hot spring, it’s a slowly ascending trek up the mountain path for about 2-3 hours. When you reach the summit of Mount Rokko, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of both Kobe and Osaka from a height of 931 meters. You can stop off here and enjoy some of the tourist attractions – which include a botanical garden, a petting zoo, and kids’ activities – or a spot of lunch.
The descent to Ashiya takes around two hours, taking in the Amagatoge pass and then down a forest path towards the Koza waterfall and with the Ashiya river to your left. The walk finishes at Ashiyagawa station, where you can make a short journey into Osaka or make your way back to Kobe.
Kitano-cho is a historic Kobe district at the foot of the Rokko mountains where many foreign residences were established in the Meiji and Taisho periods in the late 19th to the early 20th century. The area is popular with tourists who pay to visit some of the historic mansions. Kitano street is lined with picturesque houses, cafes, restaurants and boutiques that make it ideal for a romantic evening walk. As Kitano is just over a kilometer from Nunobiki Falls, it provides a lovely additional treat to round off a trek in the falls.
Website: https://www.ijinkan.net/ (Japanese)
Kobe has many fine parks that provide the setting for a relaxing scenic stroll. One is Sumaura Park, which stretches out between Mount Hachibuse and Suma Beach. It’s a great park to visit during Japan’s cherry blossom season as the paths are lined with over 3,000 cherry blossom and plum trees. Simply take in the ambiance of the park or, if you want to work those leg muscles, you can use the hiking trail to the mountain summit where you will find a children’s amusement park and spectacular views across the Seto Inland Sea including Awaji Island.