Kobe, a retro-modern city of wonders, has a beautiful contrast right at the bullet train station of Shin-Kobe. About a 1-minute walk towards the back end of the Shinkansen station, there is the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, which transports tourists who alighted from modern age bullet trains to the deeply scenic Nunobiki Herb Gardens in 3 minutes flat!
Shin-Kobe Ropeway, operated by Kobe City Urban Development opened to tourists in 1991 and is a popular tourist attraction. It connects Shin-Kobe with some hiking trails and Nunobiki Gardens on the top of the mountain. The cable length of the ropeway is over 1.5 kilometers and the bright red cabins have only been installed recently.
During the ride you can enjoy the beautiful views of the city of Kobe and the Nunobiki Waterfall, which are connected to Gohonmatsu Entei, a lake on the top of the mountain. You can get off either at the last stop at the Nunobiki Herb Gardens or half way at the station Kaze no Oka, from where you can take one of the various hiking trails connecting to Mount Maya.
On a particularly clear day there is a great panoramic view not only of Kobe City, the view extends up to the Seto Inland Sea plus the western part of Osaka in the distance; the latter being particularly beautiful view in the twilight.
I can highly recommend to get off at Kaze no Oka station and walk the second part up to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, where you should stop by the glass house and enjoy the cafe facility, before finally reaching the top of the mountain. It's only about a 20-minute walk and is ideal to enjoy with the family and kids.
To get a better idea of the ropeway and its surroundings, please have a look at this time lapse video. Enjoy!
The best season is spring or autumn, when the 14 gardens in the vicinity have a great variety of flora and fauna according to the season (cherry blossoms in spring, roses in June, lilies in August and finally fantastic autumn colors).
The unique glass house at Kaze no Oka station has fuchsia, hibiscus, angel trumpet, bougainvillea, banana (fruit), guava (fruit), and papaya (fruit), all year around!
Although many visitors hike right from the Shinkansen station to the top of the mountain, even with family and kids, you can consider taking the ropeway on the way up and walking down on the way back, which is much more convenient and enjoyable for all.