The Hokushin Line is a railway line in Kobe that runs between just two stations: Shin-Kobe Station and Tanigami Station. Although it is short, this line provides a useful extension to Kobe City’s subway system, and enables subway passengers to transfer at Tanigami Station to northern Kobe’s Shintetsu Railway network.
Most trains running on the Hokushin Line are through services with the Seishin-Yamate Subway Line, so there is no need to change trains at Shin-Kobe. Transferring to the Shintetsu Arima Line at Tanigami Station enables passengers to travel on to the hot spring resort town of Arima Onsen or to Sanda City.
Previously, the Hokushin Line was owned by the private company Hankyu Railway. However, in June 2020 this line was taken over by Kobe Municipal Government and fully integrated into the city’s subway system. This means that there are now three lines on Kobe Municipal Subway; the other lines being the Kaigan Line and the Seishin-Yamate Line.
The good news for passengers is that fares on the Hokushin Line are now much cheaper than before. Although it previously cost 550 yen to travel between Tanigami Station (in northern Kobe) and Sannomiya Station (in the city center) the fare is now just 280 yen. On the subway network’s signage and route maps the Hokushin Line is color-coded brown.
The Hokushin Kyuko Line has just two stops:
Shin-Kobe – Tanigami
Both stations are listed below together with the key destinations that can be reached via Tanigami Station. Example fares and journey times are given from Shin-Kobe Station.
Shin-Kobe Station is a gateway into Kobe for intercity services on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line. It is also served by the Seishin-Yamate Subway Line which provides direct access into Sannomiya and other destinations in Kobe City center.
Attractions around Shin-Kobe Station include the Shin-Kobe Ropeway which takes gondola cars up to the Nunobiki Herb Garden on Mount Rokko, and a beautiful series of waterfalls called the Nunobiki Falls which a 20 minute hike from the station. Also just a 6 minute walk from the station is the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum where exhibits and models reveal the secrets of traditional Japanese carpentry and architecture.
Transfer here to the Shintetsu Arima Line for trains bound for Arima Onsen or for Sanda. Through trains bound for Sanda Station are diverted onto the Shintetsu Sanda Line at Arimaguchi Station and do not continue on to Arima Onsen. Depending on the time of their journey, travelers for Arima Onsen may have to change trains at Arimaguchi Station.
Train fare: 280 yen
Train time: 8 minutes
Arima Onsen Station
Arima Onsen is traditionally counted as one of Japan’s three top hot spring resorts, along with Gero Onsen in Gifu Prefecture, and Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture. This is a small, peaceful town of narrow winding streets, and traditional inns. For day trippers there are two public bath houses where you can try bathing in two different kinds of mineral water which are both renowned for their health benefits. Dotted around the town are many ancient temples and shrines, relaxing cafes, restaurants serving local specialties, and unique souvenir and craft shops.
There are also two museums. Arima Stamp Museum has a collection of regular and commemorative stamps dating back to the 19th century. Arima Toy Museum has a display of toys from all over the world, including historical toys, mechanical toys, and finely crafted wooden toys. There is also a shop where you can buy traditional toys for your own children.
Nakanobo Zuien is a popular ryokan inn here which has luxurious accommodation, indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, a restaurant serving the finest multi-course kaiseki cuisine, a café, shop, and lounge area.
Arima Onsen Station is the last station on the Shintetsu Arima Line.
Train fare: 680 yen
Train time: 30 minutes
Although Sanda is not a major tourist destination it does have a number of interesting attractions. One of the most popular locations for overseas shoppers in Sanda is a mall called Kobe-Sanda Premium Outlets which sells top Japanese and International brands at bargain prices. A bus service from Sanda Station will take you to the mall in 20 minutes.
Another attraction in Sanda is the Museum of Nature and Human Activities which has exhibits related to biodiversity and evolution, the natural history of Hyogo Prefecture, humans within the natural environment, and dinosaur fossils discovered in the region. To get to the museum take the Shintetsu Koen-Toshi Line to Flower Town Station. From Flower Town Station it is a 5 minute walk.
Kazan-in Bodaiji Temple is a beautiful mountain-top temple in Sanda, which dates from the year 651 and is famous for its view over a sea of clouds. The temple is a 15 minute taxi ride from Sanda Station. Mentaiko Park is a theme park dedicated to the topic of mentaiko (spicy pollack roe) which has games, a theater, factory tour, shops, and a food corner where you can eat mentaiko-flavored ice cream. A free shuttle bus runs between Sanda Station and Mentaiko Park in 20 minutes.
Sanda Station is the last station on the Shintetsu Sanda Line. Transfer here to the Shintetsu Koen-Toshi Line and the JR Takarazuka Line.
Train fare: 810 yen
Train time: 45 minutes
A number of discount passes are available for use on Kobe’s subway and bus systems. For details please visit the Kobe City Transportation Bureau website. A bilingual subway route map for Kobe can also be downloaded from the same website. To plan your journey use English language route finders like the Japan Transit Planner or Hyperdia.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.