Going to an herb garden while on vacation? It sounds lame as hell, but it was surprisingly fun.
So, back in Kobe again. This time we got to the Kobe ropeway before they closed at 4pm.
Buying tickets here is confusing. You have the option of buying combo tickets or buying some kind of half-way ticket. To be honest I still don’t understand what the difference would have been besides a cost difference of an additional $5 or something negligible like that. The combo ticket lets you use both the Kobe ropeway and see the garden.
Storm clouds were looming on the horizon as we ascended the mountain in our gondola.
At the top of the mountain is an Alpine-themed village. All the little stores sell variants of ice cream, sausage, beer and other German foods with the requisite Japanese twist. Since we already have a place like this at home the novelty was a little lost on us (even if this one was much nicer).
Being that we paid for the herb garden admission, we figured we might as well see it.
The walking path led down past some small planters containing various herbs (you can smell the rosemary long before you can see it!) towards some domelike buildings, which are actually greenhouses full of all manner of lush foliage. It’s literally a jungle in there, but tastefully groomed at the same time. For being a jungle, the presentation was very neat, and very welcome– outside it was freezing, and the greenhouses maintain an almost-tropical humidity.
The greenhouse also has a cafe. We thought it might be fun to stop for ice cream– they have signs advertising it everywhere! When we got to the cafe, we learned why they were so proud of their ice cream– it was some kind of proprietary herbal concoction containing lavender or aloe or some ingredient normally associated with the treatment of rashes and minor burns. I’m sure it would have tasted great but it was a bit too exotic for us that early in the morning.
The view from the cafe patio was stunning, but right around now is when the clouds started to drip and we knew rain was about to start any minute.
The path continued up into some woods. We noticed people (usually couples) would dash up the path and after a minute or so we’d hear a bell clang. We decided to investigate. There is in fact a bell at the end of the path, but the significance of it was lost on us– it started to rain.
In the greenhouses they have racks of transparent red umbrellas one may use in the event of rain. At least, that’s what we’re assuming because as we stepped outside into the rain without them, the groundskeeper helpfully ushered us back inside the foyer to equip us with some.
Rather than taking the ropeway all the way back down, we walked a beautifully-paved nature path towards the half-way station, intending to catch a gondola down from there.
So, herbs. They smell nice, and the greenhouse was pretty cool too. This may or may not be the coolest place on the planet for your herbalism fancies, but no matter what it was a fun gondola ride up the Kobe ropeway, followed by a very pleasant walk exhibiting some gorgeous views going both up and back down.