Continuing in our outdoor theme, I’d like to introduce you to Mt. Maya this week.
Mt. Maya is part of the Rokko mountain range that encircles Kobe. It’s possible to hike up the mountain the old-fashioned way, but I prefer to use one of my favorite methods of transportation: the cable car.
We begin our voyage at Maya Cable Car Station, a 20-minute bus ride from Sannomiya in the center of Kobe. The first leg of the voyage is by ground-based cable car.
This will take you as far as “Niji”, or “Rainbow” station. There you will change to an aerial cable car, my favorite part. As your tiny little cabin floats slowly across the gap suspended from a steel cable, you are treated to glimpses of the city and harbor below.
It is only when you reach the highest station, “Hoshi” (“Star”), and descend out onto the observation deck that the full panorama of the Hanshin metropolis and Osaka Bay comes into view. The below photo is only a fraction of the landscape.
Once you’ve had your fill of views and taken a few pictures, it’s time to explore the mountaintop. You’ve got a few options here.
First, there are numerous hiking trails that will take you all around the Rokko mountain range. Maps are available at the observation deck.
A short walk into the woods is the Buddhist temple Tenjoji, also worth a visit.
There is also a fairly nice hotel nearby mainly catering to couples who want to spend a romantic evening in the mountains. If you don’t have the time for a stay, there’s also a restaurant right by the observation deck that serves French cuisine. The food is a bit pricey, but the night view is considered one of the top three in Japan.
A few more views of the mountains, with Awaji Island barely visible in the distance:
Here’s an awesome sign I discovered along the way:
Small wild boars are also common in this area. Try to keep away from both kinds of wildlife.
How To Get There
From Sannomiya: Take the #18 bus for Mt. Maya Cable Car Station. Catch this bus at the bus stop by the East Exit of Hankyu Sannomiya Station, by the triangular plaza area.
Or, the particularly energetic may enjoy a 25-minute uphill walk from Hankyu Ojikoen Station.