Kobe is known in Japan as a port city, but did you know that there is a hiking spot where you can take in a waterfall tour within minutes of the city?
Immediately behind Kobe city there are mountains and lush forests…
Nunobiki Falls is the collective name for a group of waterfalls located along the Nunobiki mountain stream slightly north of central Kobe's urban area. They have been selected as one of Japan's top hundred waterfalls. The Nunobiki mountain stream has also been selected by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment as one of the country’s top hundred famous rivers.
After a 500-meter-walk north from the Shinkansen (bullet train) stop of Shin-Kobe station, you can begin the waterfall tour.
This is the 19-meter high Medaki – Just 5 minutes from the station, a waterfall surrounded by greenery appears.
If you hike further upstream from Medaki, right next to the path you can see the smaller Tsutsumigataki waterfall (height 8m) and Meoto waterfall. If you keep on walking even further, you will reach Ontaki waterfall.
Ontaki waterfall is 43 meters high. (In general, when talking about Nunobiki Falls, this is the one being referred to.) Steep cliffs surround Ontaki, but there is a walking trail to the right (of the falls) that allows visitors to keep on hiking up the cliffs while enjoying a side view of the waterfall.
After finishing the hike up the cliffs, the view opens up a bit and you can see the Kobe city area. Amazing to think that there is such a forest abundant in nature right behind the city!
If you look carefully, you can see the Seto Inland Sea (Osaka Bay) behind the buildings. As one would expect of the port city of Kobe, ships can also be seen sailing on it! It must be quite rare to find a place where you can walk along a mountain stream surrounded by lush green nature and at the same time see the sea!
But that's not the end of Nunobiki Falls' charms. If you follow the mountain stream for around another 30 minutes while listening to the murmur of the waterfront, you will reach Nunobiki Gohonmatsu Dam.
The Nunobiki Reservoir behind the dam has been selected as one of the top hundred reservoirs in Japan.
As this was Japan’s first gravity-type concrete dam (built in 1900), it has been appointed an Important Cultural Property.
The dam's special feature is its outer wall – stones that were piled up to form the dam have been left as they were. Looking at the dam, it seems almost like the walls of a gigantic castle.
Nunobiki Gohonmatsu Dam was Japan’s first real dam, and a piece of architectural heritage that supported Japan's modernization as the ‘water jug of Kobe’.
Nunobiki stream is a place where visitors can enjoy an actual waterfall tour and study a piece of modern architectural heritage – It's a true urban oasis.
In late November, the surroundings trees become colorful as well, so we recommend this area for autumn foliage viewing, too!
Location: Fukiaicho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture
Nunobiki reservoir : http://www.wec.or.jp/library/100selection/content/nunobiki.html
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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