Mount Rokko National park besides being a fun and romantic place to visit, is a place to enjoy nature and outdoor activities. In any season, the Hyogo prefecture’s highest point – 932 m – Mt. Rokko is full of life and colors.
Since Mt. Rokko is one of the hot spots for tourists in Kansai area, many railways companies offer a one day pass to visit the place. Paying a fee of around twenty dollars, in one day, you can have access to unlimited rides of trains, buses and the cable car.
If you decide to departure from Osaka Station, you should take an express train to Sannomiya station. After 35 min you will reach Rokko station. From there, there are several buses that can bring you to he Mt. Rokko funicular station.
At the station, you can already feel the energy of the place: the station is colorful and a good spot for pictures. Actually, they offer some costumes from old style train operators: you can dress one and take a unique picture.
When you take the small funicular, you nature surrounding you. The view during the trip is amazing and if you decide to visit Mt. Rokko in Spring or Summer the fragrance of Nature will renew your energy. Tenran station is the place where the adventure starts and there you are welcomed by a gorgeous view from Hanshin (Hyogo and Osaka) area. If the day is not cloudy, you can take several nice pictures from the observatory.
What to do
There are some restaurants and cafes around the Tenran station area, so before you start your visit, you can enjoy a good coffee or snack.
To go around Rokko Mt. you may take a bus (they run frequently). There are several places to visit and spend a wonderful time with your partner: a museum, a botanical garden, a country house and – the amazing – Rokko Garden Terrace.
The museum is related to musical boxes. The building has a beautiful European design and when you go inside, you will notice that all the architecture was prepared to be a represent a music box! Music is everywhere and there you can know more about instruments and how they were used around the world, in daily life. The visit is complete when you watch a small concert in which you can participate playing organ! If you enjoy music, you definitely must stop by there.
Next spot is the botanical garden. The garden contains different types of alpine plants, not only from Japan, but also from other countries in Asia. It also has many native plants from Mt. Mt. Rokko. During Spring and Summer, being a wonderful place to appreciate nature and take pictures.
The country house is in a huge field, located at the lower part on the mountain. To go there you need to take a chairlift (pair lift); it is really exciting and fun.
At this park you can see a lake, surrounded by trees and flowers. At the country house you can practice sports, such as fishing and golf. Not only that, you can also use a trampoline and take a foot-powered paddle boat and enjoy a pleasant trip around the lake. Moreover, the rose walk (a pathway surrounded by colorful roses) is specially romantic site during summer.
Garden terrace is the most famous site in Mt. Rokko. The terrace was built on the top of the mount and from there you also have a clear and astonishing cityscape view. The perfect picture can be taken from a lookout tower, where you can have a 360-degree panoramic view. Furthermore, the deck also has some benches; you can sit and enjoy the environment with your partner. If you are the type of person that enjoys watching the sunset, this deck is superb. If you want to buy a souvenir from Mt. Rokko, there are several small stores where you can find foods and handmade stuffs. To finish, you can have a romantic and unforgettable dinner at one of the panoramic restaurants around the terrace. Many Japanese couples go to these restaurants for a special date.
Finally, during the winter there is a special event at Mt. Rokko: the winter park. Many visitors fill the area to enjoy ski and snowboard. If you are a beginner, you do not need to be worried; the slope is not high. Moreover, if you just want to enjoy the snow, at Snowland, you can play in the snow and use a plastic sledding.
Another point to visit in Rokko National park is mount Maya. You can take a bus there from Mt. Rokko to Mount Maya. However, the easiest way to access Mt. Maya is taking a train to Shin-Kobe station and then taking the Shin-Kobe rope way. After that, you can take a charming cable-car from where you can appreciate the natural beauty of a dense forest that draws a striking contrast with Kobe/Osaka cityscape.
However, for people that want to enjoy a good walk, it is also possible to hike Mt. Maya. Going by foot is a good option to enjoy nature and the view from different points – which is not possible if you take the rope way and the cable car. In this case, after leaving Shin-Kobe station, you can start the adventure taking the Okumaya Driveway. It is not an easy course – it can take up to three hours to reach the top – but journey is worth the effort: you can visit several interesting places, such as Nunobiki Falls and the Nunobiki Herb Garden.
The Nonubuki falls are less than one hour by foot from Shin-Kobe station. The fall has 43 m and during Summer it is a pleasant place in which you can refresh after the walk. After some more minutes walking you will reach the Herb Garden. Among the herbs cultivated on the garden are chamomile, lavender and mint. These wonderful mixture of herbs makes the air around the garden a wonderful combination of scents that matches with the western landscape of a resting house and a glass house. Inside the glass house you can find fruits and flowers from all over the world. Also, the rest house has a cafe, a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
At the top of Mt. Maya there is an observatory. Unlike the Terrace Garden on Mt. Rokko, the deck on Mt. Maya is simple, but cozy. However, the view from the top of Mount Maya is considered one of three most beautiful night views in Japan. Some people describe it as a Ten Million Dollar Night View.
Besides the mesmerizing view, Mount Maya keeps another secret: a fantastic and mystical shrine, Tenjo Temple (Tenjo-ji). Actually, the mountain received this name because of this temple. Maya is the name of Budha’s mother and after the temple was made, a monk brought a statue of Maya and they named the mountain in honor to Budha’s mother. The temple is quiet and peaceful – a place where you may relax and be immersed a little bit more in traditional Japanese culture.
Mount Rokko and Mount Maya are full of beauty, charm and adventure. Do not miss the opportunity to visit there! Take your camera, a pair of comfortable shoes and go for one unforgettable day with your partner in Hyogo prefecture!