931 Meters Above Sea Level: On Top of Mt. Rokko

The city of Kobe sits between the Rokko mountain range and the sea. Its location made it an important port city beginning in the 19th century. The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake hit Kobe and some nearby cities in January of 1995, killing thousands of people and causing much damage to the city’s infrastructure with tremors and the resulting fires.

Looking at Kobe today, however, you’d never know that such a tragedy occurred there, as it’s been completely rebuilt and is a popular tourist destination among the Japanese and foreigners alike. We took a day trip to Himeji and Kobe from Osaka, planning to go up to the peak of Mount Rokko.

The Rokko Cable Car has been operating since 1932. You can sit in the open-air car at the back or the observation car in the front. We arrived at the station shortly before the train departed, so we rushed in and settled in the open-air car. Once we started making our way up the mountain, we moved to the much warmer observation car to avoid the biting cold. The ride only takes about ten minutes, but it’s a bumpy ten minutes, so it’s best to hang on to the railing as you go.

The panoramic view at the top of Mount Rokko is incredible. By the time we got there, it was early evening, and the cities below were lit up as far as we could see. From Mt. Rokko Tenran Observatory, you can see Osaka Bay, Kansai International Airport, Kobe Airport, Rokkō Island, and Port Island. The view stretches from Umeda in the East all the way to Harborland in the West, and beyond. There’s also a little cafe next to the observatory where you can enjoy some light food and a drink.

You can reach the cable car station by taking the Midosuji Line to the Umeda Station, then walking to the Osaka Station to transfer to the Tokaido-Sanyo Line. From there, alight at the Rokkōmichi Station and take the bus to the Rokko Cable Shita Station.

The Rokko Cable Car is open in all seasons. Be sure to check the weather forecast before your trip and dress appropriately. It gets chilly on top of the mountain! There are heated waiting rooms at each end of the train where you can stay until departure.

One-way fare costs ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children aged 6-11. The first departure is at 7:10am, and the last at 9:10pm, with 20-minute intervals in between trips.

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