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Sacred mountain range in Kobe “Rokkosan-kei” Explore geographical and historical backgrounds of Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya.

Kobe’s iconic landmarks “Mt. Rokko (Rokkosan)” and “Mt. Maya (Mayasan)” are broadly known as two major mountains within the “Rokkosan-kei” mountain range.

With altitudes of 932m and 702m, their great presence shows immensely as they tower behind downtown Kobe’s cityscape as if they were protecting the entire Kobe area. Both mountains host millions of visitors all year round because of how easy it is to access them from the city center.

These mountains have played a crucial role, not just as hiking destinations, but as sacred mountains in Kobe locals’ everyday lives for a very long time. Let’s explore the historical backgrounds of the “Rokkosan-kei” mountain range in depth.

Have you ever heard of Shinto? Maybe, some foreign visitors who have been to Japan know what it means. Shinto is a religion that originated from Japan and has been linked to Japanese daily life since ancient times. Shinto is regarded as a nature religion and widely believes that multiple deities, that are called kami in Japanese, exist in all kinds of things such as mountains, rivers, rocks, animals, plants, and so forth.

Ikuta Jinja Shrine. (above / one of the most notable Shinto Shrines in the Kobe area)

The Rokkosan-kei is no exception. The Rokkosan-kei was acknowledged as a sanctuary where the Shinto practitioners visited to focus on the ritual practices in the old days. It stemmed from two essential elements, with one being the existence of large sacred rocks and the other being its geographical features.

About 30 km south from central Kobe, there is a big island called Awaji Island (Awaji-shima) that can be seen from the Rokko mountains. In the Japanese creation myth, it is said that Awaji-shima was the first island that two deities (kami), Izanagi and Izanami, created. It was also believed that Awaji-shima was sacredly situated in the center of Japan. Along with Awaji-shima, Mt. Tsurugi (Turugisan) in Tokushima Pref. was well-recognized as a sacred high mountain in ancient Japan. According to some researchers, the Rokkosan-kei is located on a spiritual ley line centering on Izanagi Jingu Shrine (Awaji-shima) and it is also connected with Mt. Tsurugi (Turugisan) by the spiritual ley line. Ley lines define alignments of ancient monuments, historic sites, and landmarks drawn in straight lines and the lines are considered, by some people or groups, to show the paths of spiritual and positive energy coming from the earth.

Therefore, the Rokkosan-kei was positioned as the sanctuary in the Shinto world and fulfilled an indispensable role for the Shinto practitioners as well as Kobe’s local people in the ancient society.

Rokkohime Daizen Jinja Shrine (above)

In fact, a multitude of impressive large stones, rocks, as well as shrines still remain in Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya and their presences undoubtedly retain the majesty and spiritual atmosphere of the areas at the time.

If you have a chance to hike Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya, first and foremost, please enjoy a wide-spread, magnificent view of Kobe’s cityscape from the mountain top. Plus, if you would like to see and learn more about the mountains from different perspectives, it would be a great idea to find those sacred objects en route and feel the positive energy from them while imagining the ancient Kobe with the Shinto-related story in this article.
(*There are various theories and opinions about this topic. We hope this topic will help you learn and become interested in Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya.)

<How to get to the mountain top of Mt. Rokko and Mt. Maya from Sannomiya, downtown Kobe>
●Public transportation services
Bus services to the base of Mt. Maya (Maya Cable car)
1. Kobe City Bus Route #18 departing from Sannomiya Terminal Mae / Subway Sannomiya Sta. Mae
2. Kobe City Bus Route #2 departing from Subway Sannomiya Sta. Mae
3. Saka bus departing from JR Nada Sta. Mae

Bus services to the base of Mt. Rokko (Rokko Cable car)
1. Kobe City Bus Route #16 departing from Hankyu Rokko Sta. Mae
2. Kobe City Bus Route #16 departing from JR Rokkomichi Sta. Mae
3. Kobe City Bus Route #16 departing from Hanshin Mikage

For more details, please check out this page (https://kobe-rokko.jp/en/access/)

●Major hiking routes
1. Hankyu Ashiyagawa Station → Rock Garden → Mountain top of Rokkosan → Arima Onsen (hot spring)
2. Oji-Koen Station → Kikuseidai (mountain top of Mayasan)
3. Shin-Kobe Station → Ichigahara → Tengumichi → Inazumazaka → Mountain top of Mayasan

<Access to Kobe, Sannomiya from major airports and cities>
●From Tokyo
Narita Airport → (plane) → Kansai Airport (Osaka) → (high speed boat) → Kobe Airport → (Kobe Port Liner) → Sannomiya Station

Narita Airport → (plane) → Kansai Airport (Osaka) → (Nankai Main Line) → Shin-Imamiya Station → (JR Osaka Loop Line) → Osaka Station → (JR Special Rapid toward Himeji) → Sannomiya Station

Haneda Airport → (Plane) → Kobe Airport → (Kobe Port Liner) → Sannomiya Station

Shinagawa Station (Tokyo) → (Shinkansen) → Shin-Kobe Station → (Kobe Municipal Subway) → Sannomiya Station

●From Kyoto and Osaka
Kyoto Station → (JR Special Rapid toward Himeji) → Sannomiya Station
Osaka Station → (JR Special Rapid toward Himeji) → Sannomiya Station