Kobe is known for having great view spots overlooking the city at night, but the view from Kikuseidai is so magnificent it was included in the top three nights views of Japan. From sunset onwards you can watch the streetlights come on one after the other while the sky fills with stars. Even the name of the viewing platform, Kikuseidai (literally, the ‘star scooping stage’), was given because visitors can almost grab the dazzling stars in their hands. The huge panorama alone is worth the visit, as it encompasses Osaka, Wakayama, and even Awaji Island. Getting to the top is easy if you take the cable and ropeway up; to do that you’ll need to get to Maya Cable Station on the City Bus from JR Sannomiya station or the Saka Bus from JR Nada Station. Kikuseidai is right next to the station at the top.
Surrounded by nature
Two stars from Michelin
Kikuseidai was given two stars by the Michelin Green Guide. Visitors can enjoy outstanding views in natural surroundings with wild birds and green tree frogs. It’s actually not that touristy even though it’s only 30 minutes from the city centre. Mt. Maya’s untouched nature makes it popular for daytime hiking. The journey only takes 1.5 hours from the trailhead at Maya Cable station to Kikuseidai, an ascent of 700m. Along the way you’ll find virgin forest, historic sites, and views that keep getting better the higher you go. At the top you can rent an electrically assisted bicycle for easy access to mountaintop highlights, including Tenjo-ji temple, Rokkosan Pasture and Lake Hodaka.
Feel the attachment residents have to Kobe
Mt. Maya is loved by Kobe residents. It has brilliant nightscapes and plenty of nature to enjoy, but people really enjoy the simple life here. In 2011 the cable and ropeway were facing closure, but it was local volunteers that made an appeal to the city mayor and brought forth a future plan to keep them running; they’re both now supported by a network of activities. Aside from the mountaintop rent-a-cycles, there’s also a BBQ terrace and cafe, guided tours, and daily events that alternate with the seasons. At the information desk at the station on the top you can learn about things to do, like the best-hidden spots to see the sunset. In the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, which devastated the city, people in Kobe realized that connections with each other are important; Mt. Maya is one of those special places where it can happen.