Kobe: Rokko Mountain; the Family and Dating Scene

Kobe Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #42: Ordering from a machine with pictures and automatically calculated change gives another dimension to fast food service. It’s impersonal but efficient – sounds like Japan to me.
The sound of dying cicadas drew me from that fantasy land. I thought it quite the odd moan from the group of bare women. I did that move we all do when we wake from a good dream - we try to keep our eyes unfocused and everything still a blur with hopes that we could drift back into her powerful legs against my back thighs. Sigh. I couldn’t trick myself with that intolerable wailing sound. I honestly don’t even know how one cicada sounds because they always harmonize into this continuous blotch of noise. If there could be a blotch of noise, it would be this screech… Of pain? Of ecstasy? Of persuasion? Is there just one I can shake out of a tree? Or are there hundreds playing their parts in the orchestra? Damn it – just Shut Up!
I looked out my 4th story window and didn’t see a cloud in the sky.
I tried to shift around my balcony to see if there were some hiding behind a building, but it was simply a beautiful day. Thoroughly satisfied with my previous day’s adventures of tall buildings looking out into the distance, I figured I’d try tall mountains with the view from a different perspective. Kobe Rokko Mountain had been placed on a pedestal by friends and websites for its gorgeous view and relaxing onsens. Sure, why not? I headed towards Kobe with 2L of water and hiking shoes to show some dedication to my day’s plans.
The commute was not fun. It took about 1 ½ hours to get to Rokko station from Ishibashi station on the Hankyu line. From there, you walk down the escalator on the right side and wait with the other people for the number 16 bus.
The line was so long that I needed to wait for 3 buses to pass before I could get a seat. The buses come every 10 minutes, but the heat and boredom was unbearable. Taking the bus to its last stop, you pay another 200 yen fee and reach the Rokko Cable Car. I would suggest paying for the 1300 ticket for a roundtrip cable car and unlimited bus ticket – it’s definitely worth it unless you’re hiking the whole thing, in which case, ‘Gambate.’ If you want to go to Arima Onsen, pay for the one-way 1700 ticket and then just leave from the station over there.
I remember taking the cable car in Hong Kong and having a beautiful view of the city on both sides as we scaled up the mountain, but this was not the same. It might be a different sight in autumn, but today it just looked like a normal train ride going uphill through a few tunnels with masses of boring green left and right (Yes, I’ve been slightly spoiled).
The front was crowded because everyone hoped the sight would be better there, but I thought about it and sat in the back of the train, looking out the back window. Why should I compete with the little kids if the pictures look the same anyway? Besides, I could always take the back of the train going down and see the whole thing in reverse. I’ll just play it back in rewind in my mind, and it’ll be indistinguishable.
The first sight outside from the cable car station is absolutely breath-taking. You don’t get the same 360 view as the Floating Garden Observatory, but your pictures include the side of the mountain and a much more beautiful waterfront. Walk to the roof of the station to take some beautiful pictures and then continue walking through the car park area to get one of the left-side.
I found a great spot a little bit further down the road away from the bus terminal. It had a nicely placed rock where you can just stand and have the perfect view (this is right before the guard rail starts).
I took the bus from the station to the last stop of Rokko Garden Terrace. There are botanical gardens and museums along the way, but Rokko Garden Terrace has, in my opinion, the best view. Walking through the villa-type area, you’ll find a lot of overpriced cafes and merchandise. The main viewing spot is up on that half-broken tower. Soak it in. My favorite picture here was the vertical shot with the villa below and a green hill with some busy city in the background. It takes some time to wait for the right moment when the tourists don’t clutter the scene, but if you have patience, it’ll be worth it.

Don’t forget to put aside your camera for a few minutes during your frenzy of snapshots. Nothing captures the memory like your own eyes looking into the distance. I’ve found that when I take pictures of this type of scenery, I’m always remembering the action of taking the pictures by looking through the little LCD screen on my camera. I don’t always remember the actual view through my own eyes. It takes a little bit more time to go through all of these locations, but I rather have a story to accompany the pictures than a lifeless image. What do I have to say about this experience up there on the top of that tower looking outward into the blurred distinction between city and blue sky? Mmm … I feel like I’ve come to a point where I can treasure it without words.

After the view from the terrace, I took a little ski lift thing down to the Rokko Country club. This place had everything for kids and young parents. There was fishing, miniature golf, rose gardens, bumper cars, ball play-pin, trampolines, artificial snow, boat rides on the lake, large open fields, and (my favorite) a hillside with a great view of all of the attractions. The shots were perfect for a photographer, but the photographer should not be a random stranger – it should be taken by a loving parent. I tried not to be too much of a creepster by taking pictures of children.
The view was spectacular, but I will probably not return for the night scene. I think there are better ways to spend the time and money. Arima Onsen is definitely on my to-do list, but I hear you can get a full day onsen and travel pass from any major station.
You better bet I’ll go and find out (because I would and you would make money off of this silly bet) =).
~See Lemons Love the View

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photo by: ellechic