Guide to take trains in Kobe. How to choose the best route by train to get the major spots?

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
Port Tower is the icon of Kobe.
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Night view of Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park
Night view of Kobe Harborland and Meriken Park

You may be overwhelmed by train services in Kobe. Actually it is much easier to handle than Osaka and Kyoto. Most of places to see are located in downtown Kobe. Many of them can be accessed on foot from major stations directly. However understanding train system is a key to save your time. Kobe can be combined with Himeji easily. You may spend half day in Kobe and enjoy in Osaka rest of the day.

For travelling in Kansai area, there are many types of deals, such as ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass and many more. Each pass has different conditions. You have to understand which train system is covered by your pass. And also Kobe is very closed to Osaka. You may not have many chances to take a train and that means single fare may be the best option for you.

In this post, I will show you the route map and explain all train systems in Kobe.

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How to access to Kobe

Access map of the trip to Kobe and Himeji (Click to view large)

Kobe is located between Osaka and Himeji. So you can combine Kobe with Himeji easily.

You can access to Kobe by JR line, Hanshin Railway and Hankyu Railway from Umeda (JR Osaka station) or Namba. The travel time is about 20 to 40 minutes. It is varied by the type of the train and the line. JR Special Rapid is the fastest way to get Kobe. It take 20 minutes. You can get Kobe from Kyoto in 50 minutes by Special Rapid too.

If you use JR Pass, Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass or other JR deals, Special Rapid is most convenient way to get Kobe.

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, you may take Hanshin Railway or Hankyu Railway. You can get either one if you leave from Umeda. Only Hanshin Railway takes you Kobe from Namba.

If you get Kobe from other cities, such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Hakata, the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen takes you to Kobe. But the station in Kobe is Shin-Kobe. It is one station away from Kobe-Sannomiya which is the downtown core of Kobe by subway. Please see the post below to find more information about Shin-Kobe station:

I will also explain about Kobe city subway later in this post.

Train and subway lines in downtown Kobe

There are many trains running in downtown Kobe. And also many deals are available in Kansai area. But the coverage is varied by the pass which you use. I will tell you about the train network in Kobe and the coverage of the major passes and the deals.

For the travellers who use ICOCA, Kansai One Pass, Suica, Pasmo or other IC cards

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

You can take all trains on the map above except Mount Rokko transportation, such as Rokko Cable, Rokko Sanjo bus and Rokko Arima Ropeway. Major IC card (ICOCA, Kansai One Pass, Suica, Pasmo and other major one) cover Kobe city bus service too. You can access to Rokko Cable Shita station from Hankyu Rokko, JR Rokkomichi and Hanshin Mikage stations by Kobe city bus.

For the travellers who use Kansai Thru Pass

Please see the map below:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

This pass does not cover any JR lines but it covers most places in Kobe. Only Mt Rokko cannot be accessed by this pass. It is no problem to visit other spots in Kobe. Actually manu places in Kobe are located within walking distance from the stations. If you use the pass for the round trip between Osaka and Kobe only, the round trip fare is around 1,000 yen. You cannot get the worth of Kansai Thru Pass. I will tell you about Hanshin Tourist Pass and Hankyu Tourist Pass below. These deals are much better choice for visiting downtown area and harbor area in Kobe.

Kansai Area Pass and Hokuriku Arch Pass

Please see the following map:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

These passes cover only JR conventional line’s train, such as Special Rapid, Rapid and Local. You cannot take Shinkansen and other express trains. But if you intend to visit downtown Kobe and harbor area from Osaka, single ticket is cheaper than Kansai area pass. Especially this pass does not cover any subway and bus in Kobe. It is very limited to use this pass in Kobe. If you visit Kobe from Kyoto, round trip fare is almost equal to the value of the pass. But Hankyu Tourist Pass is much cheaper than Kansai Area Pass.

If you use Hokuriku Arch Pass, just take JR conventional line’s to Kobe and add other local deal or ticket as you need.

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), Kansai WIDE Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area pass, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass

Please see the map below:

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

You can get either the Shinkansen or the conventional line trains. But the Shinkansen station, Shin-Kobe is not located in downtown core of Kobe. It is one station away from Sannomiya by subway. Subway is not covered by these JR deals. The Shinkansen is not very convenient way to visit Kobe if you access from Osaka.

Other conditions are same as Kansai Area Pass.

Other regional deals, such as city pass, Osaka-Kobe round trip deal

If you think about purchasing single ticket, the following deals may be better than single fare.

Hanshin Tourist Pass

This deal covers only Hanshin Railway. But you can make a trip from either Umeda or Namba to Kobe. The price is only 500 yen and it is way cheaper than round trip single fare. If you want to visit only downtown and harbor area, such as, Kitano, Kobe Harborland, Meriken Park from Osaka, this is the best choice for you. Please see the link below to get the details about Hanshin Tourist Pass.

Hanshin Tourist Pass

Hankyu Tourist Pass

This is same type as Hanshin Tourist Pass. But Hankyu Railway connects Osaka and Kyoto too. If you access from Kyoto to Kobe, this is most affordable choice. The price is only 700 yen and of course, it is way cheaper than round trip single fare. Please see the link below to get the details about Hankyu Tourist Pass.

Hankyu Tourist Pass

However Hankyu Railway does not have any direct train service from Kyoto to Kobe. JR has Special Rapid train and this is much faster than Hankyu Railway.

City Bus & Subway 1-day Pass

Click to enlarge (C) JP Rail

If you stay in Kobe and looking for the deal, this deal may be your choice. However, as I mentioned several times in this post, many places in Kobe can be accessed on foot from major stations. Single fare may be cheaper than this pass at 1030 yen. Please make a detail itinerary and compare the fare and the deals. Bus fare is 210 yen for one ride and subway fare is 210 to 270 yen in downtown and harbor area. You have to ride more than 4-5 times a day.

Unfortunately Kobe Municipality Transportation does not provide English site. Please find the details at the link below.

Official Kobe Tourism Site, Free Kobe

City loop one day pass

Kobe City Loop bus has completely different exterior from regular city bus. You can find it very easily.

This bus service connects major tourist spots. This bus is most convenient way to visit the spots in downtown area. One day pass is 660 yen and one ride is 260 yen. If you visit more than two places, it is paid off. You can find the info in ENGLISH/한국어/簡体字/繁体字 at the link below:

Kobe City Transportation

1 day pass can be purchased in the bus.

Arima Onsen and Mount Rokko deals

Rokko Cablecar (C) JNTO

Arima Onsen can be accessed by Hokushin Kyuko and Kobe Railway. These trains are covered by Kansai Thru Pass. However transportation to Mount Rokko, such as Cablecar, Ropeway, are not covered by any regional deals. There are some deals to cover this mountain side of Kobe.

If you want to have one way trip from Arima to Kobe via Mount Rokko, Rokko Arima one way ticket is available at 1,750 yen (child 880 yen). This deal includes one way ride for both Rokko Arima Ropeway and Rokko Cablecar, and unlimited ride of bus on Rokko Mountain Top Bus.

Arima Rokko one day pass is different option. This deals gives you unlimited ride for the following segments:
Kobe subway, Sannomiya – Shin-Kobe
Hokushin Kyuko, Shin-Kobe – Tanbigami
Kobe Railway, Tanigami – Arima Onsen
Arima Rokko Ropeway
Rokko Sanjo Bus (Rokko Mountain Top Bus)
Rokko Cablecar
Kobe City Bus (Rokko Cableshite – Hankyu Rokko station – Hanshin Mikage station)
Hankyu Railway (Hankyu Rokko – Kobe Sannomiya)

And also this deal includes the entry ticket for Kin-no-yu or Gin-no-yu hot springs. The basic price is 2,360 yen. And combination pass for this unlimited pass and return fare from Osaka or Kyoto.

Types of passPrice
Basic2,360 yen
Hanshin Railway (Umeda or Namba or all stations on Hanshin railway – Sannomiya or Mikage)2,460 yen
Hankyu Railway (Umeda or Kyoto or all stations on Hankyu railway – Sannomiya or Mikage)2,560 yen

How to access to major spots in Kobe

I would like to show you the access to major spots in Kobe.

Sannomiya

South side of JR Sannomiya station

Sannomiya is the biggest downtown core in Kobe. You can get there by JR, Hankyu and Hanshin from Osaka. Shinkansen’s Shin-Kobe station is one station away by subway. Both Hanshin and Hankyu Railway’s stations are Kobe-Sannomiya. Station name is a bit different but it is same location. Port Liner depart from Sannomiya and connect to Port Island and Kobe Airport.

Kitano

Uroko no Ie is one of reserved western style residents in Kitano. (C) JNTO

Kitano is location between Sannomiya and Shin-Kobe. You can walk from these stations. Otherwise you can take City Loop Bus.

Meriken Park

Port Tower is the icon of Kobe.

Subway’s Minato-Motomachi station is the nearest station. But you can walk from Motomachi station.

Harborland

Kobe umie Mosaic is shopping complex in waterfront area.

JR Kobe station and subway’s Harborland stations are same location. Hanshin and Hankyu Railways Kousoku-Kobe station is almost same station. This is connected by underground path to JR Kobe station. You can get there easily from these stations.

Nankinmachi (Chinatown)

Gate of Nankinmachi

Nankinmachi is located at north side of Meriken Park. You can walk from Motomochi or Minato-Motomachi station.

Kobe Airport

Aerial shot of Kobe airport (C) Kobe Convention & Visitors Association/ (C) JNTO

Port Liner connects to the airport from Sannomiya station.

Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen Yumotozaka path (C) 663highland (663highland) [GFDL CC-BY-SA-3.0or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

If you use Kansai Thru Pass, best way is subway, Hokushin Kyuko and Kobe railway. You may get this hot springs town by Mount Rokko transportation, such as cablecar and gondola.

Mount Rokko

Night view from the top of Mt. Rokko is one of the best in Japan.

Hankyu Rokko station, JR Rokkomichi station and Hanshin Mikage station are the gateway to Mount Rokko. You may also get there from Arima Onsen. You can make a circle route to combine with Arima Onsen.

I hope this post helps you understand the train system in Kobe.

Comments

  1. 45tr1d – just me...please dont judge me...belajarlah mencintaiku...seperti aku belajar mencintaimu... aku bukanlah kamu seperti kamu bukan aku, bukan pula dia atau mereka, toh dia atau mereka bukanlah aku, hla wong seringkali aku bukanlah aku...
    Yullinta says:

    Hi Takeshi san, I’m planning to go to Japan next may and considering to buy kansai Hiroshima pass. Because I will have limited time, can I go to mt rokko and arima onsen in half day? Ex. Start from 1 or 2 pm from Osaka.
    Then is it worth it to use the pass if I use it for Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Kyoto? I really want to take shinkansen for once, but if the pass not worth for maybe I will take willer bus pass.
    Thanks before.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Yullinta san,

      If you are really sure to go to Hiroshima, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass is the best option for you anyway. It’s much cheaper than return fare by Shinkansen.
      Arima and Rokko for half day is not impossible but it’s not recommended.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Kantapong says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I plan one day trip from namba to arima onsen,mt. Rokko and harbour land. Rokko and arima 1 day is suitable for my plan or not? Where can I buy that pass?

    thank you for considering my question
    regards,
    Kantapong w.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Kantapong,

      Actually Rokko Arima Pass Hanshin Railway version is available at 2460 yen. It includes Rokko Arima Pass and unlimited ride of Hanshin Railway. You just add 100 yen extra and you can get a ride to Kobe from Osaka.
      You can take Hanshin railway train from Namba. But this pass is not sold at Namba unofortunately. You have to go to Umeda or Amagasaki to get this pass. The following link shows you the brochure of Rokko Arima Pass (in Japanese). You can print out this and show it the staff at Hanshin Railway station, you don’t need to explain it and get it much easier.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. zarul says:

    Hi takeshi san..are kobe mosqued far from sannomiya station? Can i just walk?

  4. sehr_ethereal
    CL says:

    Arima & Rokko 1-day Pass

    Hi Takeshi-san

    I’m coming from Osaka to Rokkomichi first. Is Rokkomichi the first spot I can buy this pass? Thanks!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi CL san,

      You cannot purchase it at Rokkomichi station. You have to go to either Hankyu-Rokko station or Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya station.
      Hankyu-Rokko can be accessed by bus to Rokko cablecar station.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. eehsin says:

    Hi Takeshi

    I am planning a day trip to Kobe from Osaka
    First stop would be Nunobuki Herb Garden, then the sake museum in Nada and also explore the nearby attractions such as Motomachi…

    I am aware i would need the ropeway up to the herb garden and passes are separate. However, I wish to find out does the 1 day city bus and subway covers Nada area?

    Or do you have better suggestions?

    Much appreciated

    Cheers

    Ee Hsin

  6. Jane says:

    hi Takeshi san,
    Thank you in advance. I intent to stay 2 days to explore Osaka next day stay in Kobe for a day and then stay 2 days Kyoto
    1) should I buy 1day unli osaka pass then 2 day hankyu pass 2),then should I get additional kobe sightseeing pass,kyoto sightseeingpass?
    3)when should I consider Kansai thru pass..I am so budget conscious.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Jane,

      Before choosing the deal, you have to make sure where you go. In Kobe, which site do you want to see?
      If you want to see port area, like Harbourland, you can walk from Motomachi, Kobe or actually even from Sannomiya. In this case, you don’t need to use any subway pass or other local deal. If you want to save your cost, try to walk as much as you can. That is the best way to save your cost.

      If you have Kansai thru pass, it includes everything and easy. But it’s more expensive.

      In Kyoto, it’s same thing. If you use Hankyu Tourist Pass, you can get Arashiyama and Gion (Kawaramachi). Many places can be accessed by walk from these two stations. You don’t need to use even local bus to explore in these areas.

      At this point, Hankyu Tourist Pass 2 days and Osaka Amazing pass are okay in my opinion. But if you want to visit other areas where you need to take subway, we need to think about it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    Actually, am I right to say Motomachi station is nearer than Kobe-Sannomiya to Kobe Harborland / Meriken Park?

    But most of the website, say to disembark at Kobe-Sannomiya? Is there a lot of attraction near this station? If I get off at Kobe-Sannomiya, is it a long walk to Kobe Harborland?

    Thanks

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      Meriken Park is located bear Motomoachi and Harbourland is located near Kosoku Kobe. Both spots can be accessed by walk. But it’s long walk.
      I remember it takes about 30 minutes from Sannomiya. And another 15 minutes to Harbourland.

      Sannomiya is the core of downtown Kobe. There are lots of shops.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Many thanks for the info.

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    I am going to Kobe from Osaka and thinking of buying the Hanshin Tourist Pass for 500 yen. I actually wanted to go to Meriken Park / Kobe Harborland which is located nearest to Motomachi station.
    1)Can I go directly from Osaka to Motomachi station or I have to stop at Kobe-Sannomiya station first and then another train to Motomachi station?
    2) Does the pass give special rate for the Kobe City Loop Bus? Can I get in and get off anytime at the tourist spots?
    3) Does Kansai Thur Pass cover the buses and subway in Kobe?
    Thanks.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      1) You can get Motomachi directly from Umeda. If you depart from Osaka-Namba, you may need to transfer at Amagasaki.

      2) I don’t think so. Coupon book comes with Hanshin tourist pass. Actually I have never used this deal and never seen this coupon book. I think it gives you some discount to enter attraction in Kobe. But not 100% sure.

      3) Yes. If you intend to take subway or bus many times, Kansai thru pass is better choice.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. At which train stations in Osaka can the JR Pass be exchanged for Shinkansen tickets? Does there have to be a “Green Window” at the station?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Curtis,

      You can do it at Midori no Madoguchi that you mean “Green Window”. All JR stations have Midori no Madoguchi in downtown Osaka.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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