Written by Jenni Silvola
Nunobiki Herb Garden - A Hidden Gem In The Heights Of Kobe
The Nunobiki Herb Garden on Mount Rokko is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kobe. Accessed by ropeway, this garden offers a stunning view of the city.
You do not need to have a green thumb to appreciate Japanese gardens: they are mesmerizing, lush, picture perfect. Walking to one will transfer you immediately to a different time and place, leaving you at awe.
The Nunobiki Herb Garden in Kobe was a novelty even for a person such as myself, having seen quite a few different gardens around Japan.
The Nunobiki Herb Garden - Accessed by Ropeway
I had a day to spend in Kobe so I decided to visit with the Nunobiki Herb Garden up on Mount Rokko. A 5 minute walk from Shin-Kobe JR Station and you will reach the ropeway platform where you can purchase a round ticket (1400 yen).
Before reaching the platform I had contemplated on walking up the hill, but looking at the mountain it became quite clear that it would be a hike requiring proper equipment, such as sturdy shoes – so I happily paid the round ticket which includes a full day admission to the herb gardens.
Going up the mountain in the ropeway gives you wonderful views of the city and the mountain itself. The 10 minute ropeway ride lets you rest your eyes on the lush forests underneath, a waterfall boasting to be one of the best in Japan and the Seto Inland Sea. Further up you go the Inland Sea seems to open up in front of your very eyes.
During day time this was such a lovely view it made me wonder how magical it would be during or after sunset. I found out there are special, discounted ropeway tickets for people wanting to enjoy the night time view from the Herb Garden for 800 yen.
The Highlights of the Garden
As I reached the top ropeway station I was fascinated how the main building, the View Rest House, had a very strong European look to it – more precisely it looked like a picturesque German village house from the 1800’s.
Entering the View Rest House your nose soon tells you there is more to this Herb Garden than just growing plants: they also make essential oils and other products from the herbs. The little gift shop offered a variety of goods that would make your head spin of delight. It was difficult to tear myself away from these divine smelling goodies.
I ventured to the Fragrance Museum where they also give introductions to essential oils and tell you about the history of fragrances, meaning essential oils. In case you miss the introduction as I did, there are several different essential oils on display, letting you discover each in your own time. I opened every single bottle and happily sniffed away my time at the Fragrance Museum.
The building also includes a concert hall which boasted magnificent views. I strolled around happily, listening to birds singing their songs.
The Tropical Paradise in the Glasshouse
As I visited the Herb Gardens during March the outdoor gardens were not in bloom as of yet, which only disappointed me for a while before I walked down to the Glasshouse and discovered a tropical paradise! I opened the door to be welcomed by a floral atmosphere. A wide smile spread on my face as I admired the beauty of the green, picturesque, European styled entrance of the Glasshouse, not realizing the best was yet to come…
I strolled a bit further, opened yet another door and as I heard trickling of a stream, saw massive colorful hanging flower baskets, the tropical smells and the humidity hit me – I fell in love with this Glasshouse. With a silly smile on my face and gripping my camera I walked around the second floor looking at the stream and tropical plants, flowers, citrus trees and the floral galore down below. I descended the stairs to admire a wall of flowers: a literal wall built of potted plants. The stream running through the Glasshouse stole my heart when I realized they had also conjured a small waterfall. The sensation was magical.
I sat down for a while and breathed in the smells while being hypnotized by the sounds and the colors of this tropical garden. If I had seen little monkeys jumping from one tree to another it would not have surprised me one bit!
The view from the terrace was stunning and I found out there was a herbal footbath where one might soak their weary feet while enjoying the view of Kobe and the Seto Inland Sea. But my mind was on food so the café was calling my name. Outside there is a vending machine and a menu: you choose your meal, buy a ticket from the vending machine and give the ticket to a staff member in the café. I opted for pancakes with an all-you- can-drink tea and coffee set: I simply couldn’t resist the homemade herbal tea selection.
As I basked in the sunlight, eating my pancakes and drinking my herbal tea, smelling of essential oils I had been testing at the gift shop I thought to myself how the Nunobiki Herb Gardens surely must be the best place in Kobe.
Five stars from this traveller.