Actually a series of four waterfalls, the Nunobiki Falls waterfall cluster is right next to Shin-Kobe bullet train station, and can be combined with a cable
car ride to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens. Ontaki and Meotodaki Falls are the most spectacular and readily accessible of the four falls, with the other two
largely obscured from view unless the river is high.
Above: Ontaki Falls and pool at Nunobiki Falls in Kobe
(Order this image)
If you are just coming to visit the falls, follow the overhead signs inside Shin-Kobe station to the exit for Nunobiki Falls. If you cannot see any when you first
step off the train, follow the signs to the Herb Garden and Ropeway, and the exit to Nunobiki Falls is along the way.
From the exit, follow the paved path up the mountain, crossing the river over a bridge, following any signs along the way. There is an unmarked viewing platform for Mentaki Falls, which
is more of a weir than a waterfall, and a second unmarked viewing platform for Tsuzumigataki Falls, which was however largely obscured by overhanging trees. The 15 minute walk through the forest
to each of the falls is enchanting, with lush green surrounds, moss covered rocks, and the river gurgling away below.
Above: Signposts from Shin-Kobe bullet train station to walk to Nunobiki Falls
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The 43 metre high Ontaki Falls (above the main pool), and Meotadaki Falls (below the main pool), are the main attractions at Nunobiki Falls. After climbing up the steps of the last section of
the walk, catch your breath on the benches placed in front of the pool. The horsetail-style Ontaki Falls fall gracefully down the rockface overhead, into the main mirror-like pool, which then spills
into the shorter Meotadaki Falls that also has its own pool, albeit deeper, darker and more rectangular.
The main pool is remarkably tranquil, almost perfectly round, and reportedly (as noted on the information boards on site) of divine significance to the locals. After being overwhelmed by crowds on the
streets of most cities in Japan, the visit to Nunobiki Falls was like a mental health break, restoring my wellbeing with a renewed sense of calm. I was surprised to be able to find that inner peace so
close to one of Japan's larger cities.
Above: Meotadaki Falls at Nunobiki Falls in Kobe
(Order this image)
I combined my visit with a gondola (cable-car) ride up to the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens, which probably added to my sense of tranquility at the falls. The bottom station for the cable car is
also right next to the Shin-Kobe bullet train station. The ride up provided a quick view of the falls as we drifted past overhead, with amazing views of the city of Kobe and the Kobe Harbour from
the cable car windows. The views of the city continued at the top station and throughout the meandering walk that zig-zags back down the mountain, including from the public herbal foot bath at the
back of the glasshouse and terrace (simply pay a very reasonable small fee for a self-service towel, but otherwise no charge), and from the hammocks on the grassy hill just above the mid station. From
the mid-station, rather than catching the cable-car, walk around to the right of the station and continue down the hill.
Above: The viewing platform and rest area in front of Ontaki Falls at Nunobiki Falls
(Order this image)
When you reach the iron gate, turn left and follow the road for 700 metres
until you reach the Miharashi Observation Platform, which has signs leading down to the waterfall. You can apparently also turn right when exiting the Herb Garden
gate and also take in Gohonmastu Waterfall and Nunobiki Dam on the slightly longer way to Nunobiki Falls, but I cannot confirm the suitability of this route first hand. Lastly there is also a hiking track that runs
down the mountain from the top station, but from what I saw at both the start and finish of this walk, it was very steep and narrow.
Your Seasonal Guide:
|Streamflow data was not available to me for this river, but based on available rainfall information,
there is likely to be reliable flow over the falls all year round, with flows highest from March through to October.
||Visit from morning to just after midday to see the pool and falls in full sun.|
Other Information Before You Go:
Nunobiki Park, Chuo Ward, Kobe
As described above, either follow the signs from Shin-Kobe bullet train station and walk up to the falls, or take the ropeway to the
Herb Garden and walk down to the falls from the mid-station.
Nunobiki Creek and Nunobiki Dam.
43 metres for Ontaki Falls, the highest of the four falls in the Nunobiki Falls group. About a further 5-10 metres for Meotadaki Falls.
1-2 metres for Ontaki Falls and Meotadaki Falls.
25 metres for Ontaki Falls, near vertical drop for Meotadaki Falls.
Swimming available at the falls:
There is a small cafe on the path above Ontaki Falls with refreshments available, including a drinks vending machine. There are toilets just
after the start of the walk near Shin-Kobe station, and another set of toilets about a 100 metre walk above Ontaki Falls at the Miharashi Observation Platform.
Partial shade at the viewing area. The walk to the falls was mostly in shade.
The start of the path from the station, including the bridge over the creek, is wheelchair accessible, including wheelchair accessible
toilets along the walk near the station. However, there are steep steps as you approach Ontaki Falls which are not wheelchair accessible. From memory, the gondola ride
was wheelchair accessible, with access through a series of separate elevators to reach the bottom ropelift station.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No swimming, no entry to the pool. I did not see any signs suggesting pets were not allowed.
Accommodation and Tour Options:
See my accommodation and tour suggestions
for Nunobiki Falls.
The Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway. I saw a few people dodging the cable car fee by walking up the extremely steep mountain to the Herb Garden,
all of whom were dispirited and exhausted when I passed them on the way down. My advice would be to catch the cable car up the mountain if visiting the Herb Garden, then walk down to the
Before you head out, make sure you read the
waterfall safety information
and check with the managing authority (if known) for any current change of conditions.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the viewing area in front of Ontaki Falls at Nunobiki Falls. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply refresh this web page.
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