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Photo By: PIXTA/ bakusuinobita
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Rokko Garden Terrace and Shidare Observatory

A garden park atop Mount Rokko that includes shops and restaurants, a tree-inspired observatory and illumination events

By Whitney Hubbell

To the city of Kobe, the Rokko mountains serve as both a lush background as well as an easy escape from the city. The panoramic view of Osaka Bay from atop the mountains has been dubbed the “ten-million-dollar night view” and is considered one of the three best night views in Japan.

One place to take in these views, whether at night or during the day, is the Rokko Garden Terrace. This garden atop Mount Rokko perfectly mixes the elegant and fashionable atmosphere of Kobe with the natural scenery of Mount Rokko. It is an ideal setting for relaxing after a hike up the mountain as well as for a romantic date, a place where both hikers and restaurant goers mingle to enjoy the spectacular views.

Rokko Garden Terrace

Rokko Garden Terrace and Shidare Observatory

Photo by: PIXTA/ makoto.h A perfect way to end your hike.

The observation deck at Rokko Garden Terrace is the best spot to take in the panoramic views. As per the name, the Garden Terrace also has a garden, an English garden which consists of a small cottage garden as well as a meadow-style garden. There are also a few souvenir shops and four dining establishments. These include a cafe called Granite Cafe, a food court called Food Terrace, a Mongolian-style barbecue restaurant called Rokkosan Genghis Khan Palace, and a cafeteria-style restaurant called Rokko View Palace.

Rokko Shidare Observatory

Rokko Garden Terrace and Shidare Observatory

Photo by: PIXTA/ irodori A beautiful space designed by architect Hiroshi Sanbuichi.

Overlooking the Garden Terrace is the Rokko Shidare Observatory, a striking fusion of art and nature in the shape of a tree-like dome. It was designed by architect Hiroshi Sanbuichi, whose design philosophy is to make buildings part of the earth and the environment around it. The dome was constructed from 100 year-old copper smelter and the trunk is made of cypress wood from Yoshino in Nara prefecture, giving the observatory a fresh woody smell.

The observatory also has a basement, where even in mid-summer the underground wooden rotunda is kept cool. Two ice storage rooms are used to keep the basement cool without electricity, and cool air from the ice rooms also drifts up to the observatory floor, cooling it down for visitors. The ice is collected on Mount Rokko on the coldest days of winter and can keep the observatory cool until the ice has melted, typically around the end of August.

Nighttime illuminations and Nightscape

Rokko Garden Terrace and Shidare Observatory

Photo by: PIXTA/ kazukiatuko See a “ten-million-dollar night view” from the observatory.

An illumination event called “Lightscape in Rokko,” directed by light-up artist Masayuki Fushimi, is held at dusk at the observatory most of the year.

The illumination has a new theme each year, and each season there is a different seasonal variation of the theme. The event is held all year except for short periods in between the seasonal editions, and for a short period from after New Year’s until the middle of March.

Things To Know


Entrance to the Shidare observatory costs ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for children. It opens at 10 A.M. and closing time varies throughout the year.

See the Rokko Shidare Observatory website for more details. 

How To Get There


By train

Those interested in hiking the mountain have access to several hiking routes. JR Rokkomichi and JR Ashiya stations are popular places to start. The same routes can also start from Hankyu Rokko and Hankyu Ashiyagawa stations.

By bus

The Garden Terrace and Shidare Observatory are also accessible by cable car and bus. Start from either JR Rokkomichi station or Hankyu Rokko station, and take bus 16 or 26 to Rokko Cable Shita station, where you can access the cable car. The bus ride costs ¥210 from either JR Rokkomichi (20-minute ride) or Hankyu Rokko (14 minutes). 

The cable car ride up to Rokko Sanjo Station on Mount Rokko takes 10 minutes and costs ¥600 one-way or ¥1,100 round trip. From there, the Rokko Sanjo Bus to Rokko Garden Terrace takes ten minutes and costs ¥260. 

Where To Stay

Arimasanso Gosho Bessho
  • 958 Arimacho, Kobe-shi Kita-ku, Hyogo, 651-1401 Japan
  • ¥74,575 - ¥558,220
  • 5/5 (41 reviews)
  • 3.2 km
Kamenoi Hotel Arima
  • 1617-1 Arimacho, Kobe-shi Kita-ku, Hyogo, 651-1401 Japan
  • ¥21,945 - ¥57,856
  • 4.02/5 (501 reviews)
  • 3.2 km
Arima Onsen Gekkoen Korokan
  • 318 Arimacho, Kobe-shi Kita-ku, Hyogo, 651-1401 Japan
  • ¥18,900 - ¥18,900
  • 4.53/5 (1,414 reviews)
  • 3.2 km
The Gran Resort Princess Arima
  • 1338 Arimacho, Kobe-shi Kita-ku, Hyogo, 651-1401 Japan
  • ¥36,800 - ¥36,800
  • 3.92/5 (168 reviews)
  • 3.3 km
Arima Royal Hotel
  • 987 Arimacho, Kobe-shi Kita-ku, Hyogo, 651-1401 Japan
  • ¥24,200 - ¥69,850
  • 4.12/5 (1,451 reviews)
  • 3.5 km

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