Last week when I blogged about the best things to do in Kobe, I said the Nunobiki Herb Gardens needed its own blog. That wasn’t just because I had a load of photos from our afternoon in the mountains. This is Japan’s largest herb garden with 75,000 herbs and 200 different kinds of flowers blooming throughout the year. Depending on the time of year you visit, different plants will be in bloom!
Nestled between the Seto Inland Sea and Rokka mountains, Kobe is a city for nature lovers. If you head to Shin-Kobe station, you can catch the ropeway up to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens. The journey to the top of the gardens in a glass ropeway car takes ten minutes and takes you over Nunobiki no Taki Waterfall and the Gohonmatsu Dam – as well as gives you amazing views of the city below. There are two stops on the ropeway but you’re best riding straight to the top and make your way down through the gardens on foot – either walking all the way to the bottom or taking the ropeway car halfway down the mountain, which is what we did.
You’re best starting your journey at the rest house, where you can get some good views and photos, have lunch in the restaurants that incorporate the herbs grown in the the Nunobiki gardens and peruse the gift shop. I bought some garlic-infused salt and lavender ‘beauty tea’, which supposedly makes your skin clearer but I personally haven’t noticed any difference. One thing you’ll immediately notice is that this area doesn’t look Japanese at all but European – not that surprising when you consider Kobe’s historic Dutch connections. The Rose Symphony Garden, where you can wander around different types of roses while listening to music, is also worth a quick visit.
We visited the gardens about a week before the sakura and a lot of the seasonal flowers were fully in bloom, but it was still a lovely walk and we were lucky with the weather in late March. The views were actually the highlight for me – the best place to go for this is the glasshouse, where you can soak your tired feet in herb-infused spring water while staring down at the city and sea below. It’s also interesting to watch the gardeners at work, whether they’re meticulously picking moss out of the cracks between the stones or tending to the plants on the slopes, and ring the bell that supposedly brings you love!
And, because this is a blog all about flowers, I took plenty more photos!