The Rokko Liner (also called the Rokko Island Line) is an automated rapid transit system in Kobe that connects Sumiyoshi Station in eastern Kobe with Rokko Island. This route can be accessed via the JR Kobe Line at Sumiyoshi Staion, or via the Hanshin Main Line at Uozaki Station.
This is one of two lines operated by the Kobe New Transit Company. The other line is the Port Liner which links Sannomiya Station in central Kobe with Port Island and Kobe Airport. Neither of these lines are covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but other discount tickets are available which are listed below.
About Rokko Island
Kobe’s Rokko Island is an artificial island built in the Port of Kobe during the 1970s and ‘80s which welcomed its first residents in 1988. The center of the island is mainly a residential district which is entirely encircled by a 5km long green belt. Around the outskirts of this green zone are located the island’s factories, warehouses, and port facilities. The Rokko Liner, which runs straight down the middle of Rokko Island, has three stations on the island and all of the main attractions are a short walk from one of these railway stations.
There are just six stations on the Rokko Liner’s route with three stations on the mainland and three stations on Rokko Island.
Sumiyoshi – Uozaki – Minami-Uozaki – Island Kitaguchi – Island Center – Marine Park
These stations are listed below with transfer points and locations of interest. Example fares and journey times are given from Sumiyoshi Station.
This is the transfer station between the Rokko Liner and the JR Kobe Line. It should not be confused with Sumiyoshi Station on the Hanshin Main Line which is located about 800 meters to the south.
This is the transfer station between the Rokko Liner and the Hanshin Main Line.
Train fare: 210 yen
Train time: 2 minutes
Exit here for Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum. This is a free museum with exhibits of traditional tools and sake making techniques, a sake tasting corner, and a shop. The museum is open from 9.30 to 16.30 and closed during the New Year holidays (December 30th to January 4th). It is a 4 minute walk from Minami Uozaki Station.
Train fare: 210 yen
Train time: 4 minutes
Island Kitaguchi Station
This station on Rokko Island is a 2 minute walk from the Kobe City Koiso Memorial Museum which exhibits the works of Kobe-born artist Ryohei Koiso along with his reconstructed studio. The museum is open between 10.00 and 17.00 with last entry at 16.30. Admission is 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for university students, and free for children.
Two companies operate ferry services from a ferry terminal on the north east side of Rokko Island. The Ferry Sunflower company runs a ferry service to the city of Oita on the island Kyushu. The Hankyu Ferry Company runs a ferry service to the city of Kitakyushu on the island of Kyushu. Kobe Ferry Bus operates a 5 minute bus service between Island Kitaguchi Station and the ferry terminal for both of these companies.
Train fare: 250 yen
Train time: 6 minutes
Island Center Station
Exit here for Kobe Fashion Museum. Housed in a futuristic building, this museum exhibits a permanent collection of historical fashions, costumes, and materials, as well as hosting special exhibitions with works by contemporary designers. The museum is open between 10.00 and 18.00 (with last entry at 17.30). The museum is closed on Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday, during the New Year holidays (December 29th – January 3rd), and between exhibitions. Admission is 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for university students and seniors (over 65), and free for children. Special exhibitions have a separate charge.
The Kobe Fashion Museum building also houses the Kobe Artists Museum which exhibits work by artists who have a Kobe connection. This museum keeps the same opening times as the Kobe Fashion Museum. Admission is 800 yen for adults, 400 yen for university students, and free for children. These museums are a 3 minute walk from Island Center Station.
This station is also convenient for the Kobe Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers. This luxury hotel offers spacious accommodation, a hot spring spa with outdoor and indoor baths, a heated indoor swimming pool, four restaurants, two cafes, a bar, and a sports pub. The hotel is a 2 minute walk from Island Center Station.
Train fare: 250 yen
Train time: 8 minutes
Marine Park Station
Just outside this station is the Dekapathos water park which has a variety of pools, water sliders, and dining facilities. The water park is open in July and August and admission costs 1,400 for adults, 900 yen for junior high students, 700 yen for elementary school students, 400 yen for infants, and is free for children aged 3 or younger.
Train fare: 250 yen
Train time: 10 minutes
Tickets can be bought from ticket machines beside the ticket gates at each station. The automated machines are operated by a touch screen which has both English and Japanese language options. To buy a ticket you simply put your money in the machine and press the appropriate fare on the screen.
There are also fare charts above the machines showing destinations and fares.
Discount Passes & IC Cards
An All Day Pass on the Rokko Liner allows one day of unlimited rides and costs 550 yen for adults and 280 for children. An All Day Pass on the Port Liner and Rokko Liner allows one day of unlimited rides on both lines and costs 1,220 yen for adults and ¥610 for children. These passes also entitle the bearer to discounts and benefits at certain locations along the Rokko Liner’s route. For details check the All Day Pass webpage.
The Kansai Thru Pass (also called Surrutto) is a comprehensive rail and bus pass for use in the Kansai region that also covers the Rokko Liner and Port Liner. For details of which rail and bus services are covered by this pass, please check the official Surutto website.
The ICOCA prepaid IC card can be used on both the Rokko Liner and Port Liner and it can be charged at ticket machines displaying the ICOCA logo. These cards are available to buy at Sannomiya Station, Shimin Hiroba Station, and Kobe Airport Station. Other regional IC cards, such as Suica, PASMo and Manaca, can also be used interchangeably with the ICOCA on these lines.
For a route map and further details on station facilities check the official Kobe New Transit website. To plan your journey on this and other lines in Kobe, use English language route finders such as Hyperdia or the Japan Transit Planner.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.