The Nunobiki Waterfall (Nunobiki-no-taki [布引の滝]; Nunobiki Falls) was actually a series of four waterfalls plus smaller cascades and man-modified waterfalls. It was really a waterfall we didn't count on seeing, but managed to find out that it was very convenient to visit while we happened to be staying in the city of Kobe during the waning moments of our time on Honshu (the main island in Japan).
The waterfall series definitely felt more like the park it resided in was more of a locals' park. That was because none of the waterfalls seemed to be very significant, and we kind of thought they were more on the calibur of the best Southern California Waterfalls. However, a visit to these falls also provided a chance to get gorgeous views of the city of Kobe as well as some forest walks and even a small shrine provided one would be willing to continue taking the uphill trail beyond the waterfalls themselves.
Regarding the waterfalls, here's the lowdown. Of the four natural waterfalls that made up the Nunobiki Falls, we were only able to photograph three of them as falls #2 was almost completely obstructed from our line of sight.
The first waterfall (where its lower half was man-modified) was seen after the about 15 minutes of walking from the start of the hike (see directions below). Another 15 minutes later, we saw a viewpoint of both the 3rd and 4th waterfalls (again, the 2nd one was hard to see). And after another 20 minutes more of uphill walking beyond the last of the waterfalls, we reached an overlook of the panorama of the city of Kobe backed by its harbor. All told, we spent about 90 minutes round trip, and it was a relaxed 90 minutes as we took our time.
The walking paths actually continued to go in various directions beyond this overlook, but we didn't explore where most of these paths went. I did, however, go as far as the underside of a cable car, where it might have been possible to get even more panoramas of the city beyond what we were doing on this trail. Thus, I'd imagine it would be real easy to spend the better part of the day just meandering and exploring what this place had to offer. Our self-tour, which included more than the waterfalls, lasted about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Since the Nunobiki Waterfall seemed to be more of an obscure locals-type attraction, Julie and I realized that this excursion didn't have crowds, and it provided a relatively peaceful and convenient escape from the city of Kobe. It was amazing that we were able to experience such tranquility as technically, this was an urban waterfall given how easily accessible it was from the city (the walk started from right behind one of the subway stations). Indeed, this was quite a memorable place to end off our time on Japan's main island before heading to Hokkaido.
Julie and I sensed that the Nunobiki Waterfall ought to be more known to tourists because the city of Kobe seemed like a reasonably located city as it was within convenient train rides to attractions such as the Himeji Castle to the west, Osaka to the east, and two hops away from the charming city of Kyoto. I recalled that during the relatively short train ride to Himeji from Kyoto, we saw the world's longest bridge jutting out towards the ocean (though it was headed to an island). And speaking of islands, we didn't know that the city of Kobe actually expanded out into the water given its rugged terrain as it was backed by the very mountains responsible for the Nunobiki Waterfall and other geologic features.
Now since I'm finding myself writing the word Kobe a lot, I do have to mention that Lakers player Kobe Bryant was named after this city after his parents' visit to this part of Japan. Just a little trivia I thought I'd throw in there since our local team did win the 2009 NBA Championship during the year of our visit here (woohoo!).
As we hiked further up above the Nunobiki Waterfalls, we got this panorama of the city of Kobe and its harbor
This was the impressive Himeji Castle, which was about 45 minutes by train west of Kobe and the Nunobiki Waterfalls
This was the happening Dotonbori District of Osaka, which was about 45 minutes east of Kobe and the Nunobiki Waterfalls
Two short train hops from Kobe and the Nunobiki Waterfalls was the charming city of Kyoto where the old and new seemlessly blended together
Humble beginnings beneath the Shin Kobe Station
Once we were on the other side of the subway and train station, we were then amongst lush green scenery though we did have to kind of make sense of the kanji to navigate between some of the residences and forks here
The first Nunobiki Waterfall called Mentaki (plus a man-modified tier below); this one's said to be 19m tall not counting the man-modified tier below it (I think)
More focused look at Mentaki
Ascending beyond the first waterfall
The naturesque path continued above some other Nunobiki Waterfalls, including what we thought was the second waterfall (not visible though)
Near the hard-to-see 2nd waterfall where you can see man-modified cascades plus the walkway
The third falls called Meotodaki
Looking at the fourth and last Nunobiki Waterfall called Ontaki. Together with the Meotodaki, it's said to be 43m in cumulative height
Ascending beyond the fourth waterfall
A shrine I saw on the way up to the overlook beyond the last of the Nunobiki Waterfalls
Looking down from the top of the fourth waterfall towards the viewing area before it
As we hiked further above the Nunobiki Waterfalls, we noticed cable cars above the urban park
After finishing the Nunobiki Waterfalls hike, we returned to the Shin Kobe Station and splurged at a restaurant within that was known for Kobe Beef
After the Kobe Beef dinner, we then walked around the night arcades of downtown Kobe
This was the last street we toured while in Kobe (and while in the island of Honshu for that matter)
The walk to Nunobiki Waterfall began directly behind the Shin Kobe Station (新神戸駅), which was only a couple of subway stops from the Sannomiya Station (三宮駅) in downtown Kobe (神戸). We had to do a little bit of searching once we got out of the subway station, but the key was to go upstairs to one of its exits where we then saw a humble-looking path underneath the building leading over a bridge to some residences.
We just persisted on the road (trying to read the kanji carefully so we didn't end up trespassing into someone's place) until we knew we were on the path to the waterfalls.
For additional context, Kobe was an hour train ride east of Himeji, 28 minutes by train west of Osaka, and an hour by train southwest of Kyoto.
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