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View of Kobe city from Nunobiki falls

Nunobiki Falls: A Fascinating Kansai Day Trip Destination

By Thai Ngo Mar 20, 2023

Many consider Kobe, Kansai, Japan, to be the Mecca of fine Wagyu A5 beef. However, in order to enjoy a meal of delicate wagyu beef to the fullest, you should also make yourself hungry with some outdoor activities. Then, nothing is more appropriate than a scenic hike in the Nunobiki Falls area from morning until afternoon.

How to Get To Nunobiki Falls

Nunobiki Falls, located southwest of Mount Rokko, along with Kegon Falls and Nachi Falls, is said to be one of the three divine waterfalls of Japan. To reach this waterfall, you only need to travel about 10 minutes by train from Kobe Station on the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Sannomiya Station and then take a bus to Shin-Kobe Station. Here you have two options: take the cable car straight up to the waterfall or climb the mountain for about 30 minutes. The price of a cable car ride is about 1,500 yen for an adult. However, the climbing journey is also very gentle and exciting, especially in the autumn. During this season, you can find many red-leafed roads and clear streams along the way, providing opportunities for creative photography.

Small Waterfalls in the Nunobiki Falls Area

Ontaki waterfall at Nunobiki Falls

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There are four typical waterfalls in Nunobiki Falls: Mendaki, Meotodaki, Tsusumigadaki, and Ontaki waterfall. Among them, the Ontaki waterfall is the largest and is visited by most people. Furthermore, you can meet the remaining three waterfalls on your way up. This route also allows you to go through high, airy cliffs. At a certain height, you can even see a panoramic view of Osaka Bay, Kobe Port, and the vast green forest of Mount Rokko. In terms of size and popularity, these falls may be nothing compared to other natural wonders in Kyoto or Osaka, but they are significant in Japanese literature and art. You can read many fairy tales about the waterfall carved into the rocks next to the attraction upon arrival.

Nunobiki Gravity Dam

Kobe city view from Nunobiki Dam, Nunobiki Falls

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After you’ve enjoyed the cool and refreshing waterfalls, you can keep climbing about 750 meters to the northwest to reach Nunobiki Dam. This is the first concrete gravity dam in Japan and is also the source of water for all the falls in the Nunobiki Falls area. It was built in 1900 to store and supply water, not hydroelectricity. Therefore, the landscape around the lake and the trees are still preserved. In the autumn, all the trees in this area will turn red, leaving a beautiful shadow on the large lake.

Nunobiki Herb Garden

Herb Garden, Nunobiki falls

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Next, from the exit of Nunobiki Dam, you can start the interesting part of this trek by moving around 300 meters east. This is the entrance to the Nunobiki Herb Garden picnic area and also the cable car station in the middle of the mountain, where you will come if you choose to travel by cable car in the first place. In case everyone is tired after an hour of climbing, you can take the cable car straight to the top of the mountain to visit, sightsee, and shop for souvenirs.

This herb garden was built in 1991 to create a tourist highlight for the entire Nunobiki Falls area. A lot of herbs have been grown here for the purpose of making medicine, deodorant, perfumes, essential oils, cooking ingredients, etc. Here, it is easy to see gardens of flowers and fragrant grass with many different species, such as lavender, chrysanthemums, rosemary, basil, saffron, etc. In addition, these plants also have a festival of their own that is held annually when they bloom and bear fruit.

Right at the top of the Nunobiki Falls picnic area is a cottage with vintage architecture. From the window, visitors can see the whole scene of Kobe city below. Behind this is a store that sells different kinds of essential oils made from various herbs. This is also an area with snack stalls where people sit to rest and eat dishes prepared with the spices grown here.

After lunch, people can walk down to the middle cable car station, visit the greenhouse exhibition area, or sip a cup of coffee. However, if there are elderly people in the group or simply lunch has made you a little sleepy, take the cable car from the top of the mountain down to the Shin-Kobe station area. You will have an extra trip to see the panoramic view of Nunobiki Falls, which is well worth the price.

Cable car trip to Nunobiki Falls' Herb Garden

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You Are Welcome to Nunobiki Falls Any Time

Coming to the waterfalls in Nunobiki, you can enjoy the green trees in the spring and the red ones in the autumn. The cool streams also help you find relaxation in the summer and refreshment in the winter. Herbs such as basil, rosemary, chives, lavender, mint, and others can grow all year. So, as a natural landscape combined with an herb garden picnic area, Nunobiki Falls can welcome you any time of the year.

Related article:

The Ultimate Two Day Itinerary in Kobe

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