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Japan Hour

Road Trip on Kobe Electric Railway (Part 1)

Highlights include a Yakimochi Jizo that grants wishes, a well-known hot spring town in the Kansai area, a hotel that serves high-quality Kobe beef and Mount Rokko, which offers great city views. 

Join us as we embark on a two-day journey of enquiry and discovery on the Kobe Electric Railway in southeastern Hyogo Prefecture. We will travel for 34.5km from Minatogawa Station to Sanda Station, covering 24 stops. We start by riding on the Shintetsu Arima Line from Minatogawa in Kobe City to Suzurandai Station. After 15 minutes, we reach Suzurandai at 9.50am. 

We start exploring the area and visit a Japanese-style shabushabu restaurant called Nibu. Opened about 18 years ago, it uses different kinds of beef, such as the famous Kobe beef, Australian beef and Japanese black beef. We order the shabushabu and Kansai-style sukiyaki meals, both of which cost 1,000 yen each. The meals also come with sea bream boiled in soy sauce and homemade sesame sauce. 

After this, we catch the 11.25am train to Yamanomachi Station, which is five minutes away. A local tells us that a famous attraction here is the Yakimochi Jizo. It is believed to grant at least one of your wishes. It takes us about 15 minutes to find it. We buy some pounded rice as an offering. It is said that long ago, a jizo statue appeared in the middle of a rice field. The villagers grilled pounded rice and presented it as an offering to the statue. That is how the name Yakimochi Jizo came about. 

Our next stop is another recommended spot, the Home Cafe Koti. It is located on the first floor of a regular house and has people staying on the second floor. The cafe is run by a mother-daughter team. The mother used to work at a restaurant for many years before she decided to open this joint. The cafe is known for its delicious homemade dishes and desserts. We order its popular green tea cheesecake and rum raisin chiffon cake. 

We return to Yamanomachi Station, board the 1.45pm train and head towards Arima Onsen Station. We alight at Arimaguchi Station and switch trains before arriving at Arima Onsen Station at 3.10pm. Arima Onsen is a hot spring which appears in the Nihon Shoki, a book written 1,300 years ago. It is believed that famous warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi often visited this hot spring. Arima Onsen, which has also taken the top spot in a hot spring ranking created during the Edo period, is one of the best hot spring towns in the Kansai region.

We ask a driver near the station to recommend a hotel. He suggests Hyoei Koyokaku and gives us the number. The hotel has rooms available and sends a car to pick us up from the station. Its spacious rooms offer a nice view of the surrounding nature. Our rooms are facing Sanda, giving us a lovely view of the city. The hotel, which was named by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, has a history of 700 years and is considered one of the best in Arima Onsen. We are served a luxurious dinner featuring local ingredients from Kobe. Dishes include black sesame tofu; sea bream, tuna, scallop and shrimp sashimi; cold mugwort buckwheat noodles; and Kobe beef.  

We start the next day by soaking in the hotel’s hot spring. The water is rich in salt and iron, which gives it a reddish-brown tinge. The hotel staff highly recommends we take the cable car from Arima to Mount Rokko. The hotel’s transport drops us to the cable car station, which is 10 minutes away. We reach the summit after a 15-minute cable car ride. A breathtaking view of Kobe City, the mountains of Rokko and the Seto Inland Sea greets us from the Rokko Shidare Observation Deck, which is 880m high. This spot is also known for its dazzling night views of the modern city.  

The hotel transport takes us to Arima Onsen Station. We travel on the 11.25am train, alight at Arimaguchi Station again to change lines and head to Okaba Station this time. A passenger tells us about a Japanese BBQ restaurant owned by a butcher, Yamagaki Chikusan, which is famous in the Kita ward of Kobe City. We arrive at Okaba Station after 15 minutes. We make our way to Yamagaki and order the Chef’s Choice lunch set. It comes with thinly sliced meat and special quality rib roast which we choose to grill ourselves. The restaurant has a directly managed farm, which is why it can serve high-quality black beef at reasonable prices. Its freshly fried meat croquettes made with Japanese black beef are also popular. 


1)    The Yakimochi Jizo near Yamanomachi Station is believed to grant at least one of your wishes 
2)    A must-see attraction at Arima Onsen is Mount Rokko, which is accessible by cable car 


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