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A Trip to Nunobiki Herb Garden

Whether you’re an adventurous tourist, a courting couple, or just someone who fancies a walk amongst a bit of nature Nunobiki Herb Garden has something for everyone.

By 4 min read

The weather in Japan is being a little strange this year. No sooner are we emerging from what seemed like an interminably long winter than we seem to have completely forgone spring and moved straight into summer. May isn’t even done yet and I’m already finding myself using the air conditioner at home. It’s usually mid-June before I normally feel the need to do so.

Unfortunately with most of the best beer gardens in and around Osaka not opening for a few weeks yet, I’ll have to find something else to occupy my weekends in the meantime. With that in mind, I decided a little bit of hiking might be in order.

A friend of mine told me before that there was quite a pleasant, and most importantly not too physically demanding trail to be found behind Shin Kobe station. So, last Saturday I embarked on a trip. What I found was even more pleasant and relaxing than I expected.

My companion and I got a bit of a shock on our initial ascent up the trail, beginning at the foot of Mount Rokko. One of the local residents was stubbornly blocking our path. Of course dear readers, you’re probably thinking, “Well, why not just tell him to step aside.”

That’s a fair question, but there was a slight problem with that idea.

The “local resident” in question was not some elderly Japanese man, it was 40-50kg wild boar. Imagine what Puumba from The Lion King would look like after a vigorous course of anabolic steroids!

We had no choice but to stand back and wait patiently until our portly, yet sharp toothed, friend decided to head back into the bushes from whence he came. One of the important rules of hiking anywhere: it may just be a pathway to us, but to the likes of our new friend, this trail is home.

We passed a couple of beautiful waterfalls and mountainside streams as we made our way up the hill. After about 20 minutes or so, we came to one of several outposts along the way. From here, we could look out, at an elevation of around 500 meters and see all of Kobe City. On an especially clear day one can even see all the way across the bay back to Osaka. It was definitely one of those “I can see my house from here!” moments.

However, we just had a short time to pause, grab a quick refreshment from one of the strategically placed vending machines and then it was onwards and upwards.

Next stop, about another 10 minutes or so up the hill was the beautiful reservoir. Indeed, I was interested to know that a great deal of Kobe City’s drinking water comes from this source and it was as clean as it was beautiful and tranquil. Forming a roughly circular shape, the reservoir is surrounded on all sides by a dense, expansive forest. I can only imagine how beautiful this whole landscape must look with a light dusting of snow in winter time. I’ll certainly need to come back for another visit when the time comes.

With the reservoir now behind us, we pressed on, to reach the main point of our hike today. Nunobiki Herb Garden. This gorgeous little park at the top of the mountain has a variety of food and drinks on offer, as well as some of the world’s most beautiful and unique flower arrangements. If your poor, blistered little toes are feeling the strain after the hike to the top, there’s also the added comfort of the optional foot onsen. With the combination of natural herbs and minerals and the crystal clear mountain water, you’ll feel invigorated and ready to hike another 10 miles in no time!

Of course from the top of the garden one can also enjoy a stunning view of Kobe and the surrounding islands below.

The bar/beer garden at the top of the gardens has a somewhat Bavarian theme. Whilst the German beers are excellent (a special shout out to the Grapefruit flavour low alcohol lager!) I was more fascinated by the somewhat bizarre auditory experience of hearing Japanese yodelling!

Even if you’re not particularly athletic or especially into hiking, Nunobiki Herb Garden is still worth a visit, with easy access provided by way of the ropeway from just behind Shin Kobe Station.
The hiking trail is open until 7pm each day, with the last cable car back to the station leaving at 8pm.

Entry to the gardens is free, with a round trip on the ropeway cable cars costing 1400 yen, or 800 for one way. The hiking trail and ropeway ware both within 5 minutes of Shin Kobe station, which is itself on one subway stop, or a brisk 10 minute walk from the central hub of Sannomiya station.

Whether you’re an adventurous tourist, a courting couple, or just someone who fancies a walk amongst a bit of nature Nunobiki Herb Garden has something for everyone.

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