Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond: An Unmissable Kobe Autumn Art and Nature Festival Running Until November 23

Japan has enjoyed a recent surge in art festivals that seamlessly blend nature and local charm with the works of both Japanese and international artists. One of these is Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond, an autumn art festival running from August to November on the scenic Mt. Rokko in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. Just 50 minutes from the heart of Kobe, visitors can partake in unique art experiences while immersed in stunning nature, worlds apart from typical galleries. Read on for more details about Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond, and why you should add it to your autumn Kobe sightseeing plans!

*This article is sponsored by Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond.

What Is Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond?

Rokko Meets Art is an annual art festival held on the beautiful Mt. Rokko in Kobe, Japan. It seamlessly weaves natural beauty and scenic landscapes into captivating artworks to charm adults and children alike. Alongside masterpieces by renowned artists, the festival also proudly exhibits works from the general public.

"Beyond" was added to the Rokko Meets Art name to mark its 14th anniversary since opening in 2010. In a world of diverse values and cultures, the festival aspires to break free of existing norms and offer fresh perspectives, while fostering connections and coexistence with society through the innovative expressions of talented artists.

Event Schedule

With an elevation of 931 meters, Mt. Rokko boasts one of the earliest displays of autumn foliage in the Kansai region. Mid-October sees the mountainside adorned by leaves presenting a breathtaking spectrum of colors, making it the perfect season to revel in the enthralling interplay of art and nature!

Event Dates: Saturday, August 26 - Thursday, November 23, 2023
Opening Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

*Event period and exhibition hours may vary by venue, with some artworks available for viewing after 5:00 pm.
*For ticket information, refer to the end of the article.

Let’s Take a Look at the Venue, Mt. Rokko!

The opening of Kobe Port to the world in 1868 marked the beginning of Kobe’s transformation into a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis. In 1895, British businessman Arthur H. Groom and others began construction of mountain cabins and golf courses on Mt. Rokko, turning it into a place of leisure. 1932 saw the inauguration of the Rokko Cable Line, along with the establishment of the Rokko Botanical Garden and an array of other exciting facilities, all enhancing the mountain’s allure.

Today, Mt. Rokko stands as one of the Kansai region's premier trekking destinations. As mentioned, it also plays host to an annual art festival that runs from late summer through autumn, unveiling new layers of beauty through fresh creativity. In 2023, the artworks were thoughtfully distributed across 9 unique exhibition areas, including the awe-inspiring Chapel of the Wind, designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando; the enchanting Rokko Musical Box Museum & Gardens MORINONE, which resonates with the melodies of music boxes; as well as the jaw-dropping panoramic views from the Rokko Garden Terrace.

1. Rokko Cable (Rokko Cable Shita Station, Rokko Sanjo Station, Tenran Observatory)
2. Hyogo Prefectural Mt. Rokko Visitor Center (Memorial Monument)
3. Rokkosan Silence Resort (former Rokkosan Hotel)
4. Rokko Musical Box Museum & Gardens MORINONE
5. Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden
6. Trail Area
7. Chapel of the Wind Area
8. Rokko Garden Terrace Area
9. Rokko-Arima Ropeway Sancho Station

For the official map, please visit:


1. Train: If you're traveling from Sannomiya in Kobe or Umeda in Osaka, head for Hankyu Rokko Station, JR Rokkomichi Station, or Hanshin Mikage Station.
2. Bus: Once you've arrived at any of these three stations, hop onto the Kobe City Bus No. 16 or No. 106, and disembark at Rokko Cable Shita Station.
3. Cable Car: Take the Rokko Cable Car to reach Sanjo Station in approximately 10 minutes!

There are two types of Rokko Cable Cars: The red “Classic” and the green “Retro.” The cable car ascends around 500 m along a 1.7 km track, all while granting you non-stop vistas sure to leave you speechless.

Getting Between Exhibition Areas

As the exhibitions on Mt. Rokko are quite spread out, we recommend using the convenient Rokko Sanjo Bus service to travel between them. For comprehensive route maps and timetables, please see the official website.

Rokko Sanjo Bus (Main Line)
Rokko Sanjo Bus (Chapel of the Wind Loop Line) *Operates during event period only.

For those feeling adventurous, the brand-new Trail Area has also opened in 2023, letting you explore the splendid wilderness of Mt. Rokko on foot!

Must-See Artworks! Snap Stunning Photos Capturing the Beauty of Nature and Art

Here are three works from Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond that we think you’ll love!

1. Beside You (Riku Sugawara)

As you make your way to the art festival, you'll use the iconic Rokko Cable Car. In 2023, talented artist Riku Sugawara graced the cable car’s Rokko Cable Shita Station with a giant chimpanzee objet d'art to fill wait times with fun photo opportunities.

Sugawara is a passionate animal lover who specializes in crafting animal-themed sculptures. As visitors are often prohibited from touching artworks in museums, while our busy urban lives leave few opportunities for animal interactions, Sugawara created a piece that visitors can directly engage with and enjoy its remarkable metal texture while encouraging imagination.

2. Rokko Floating Bridge and Terrace (Tadashi Kawamata)

Tadashi Kawamata is an artist who proudly represented Japan at the prestigious Venice Biennale, to much international acclaim. His creative footprint extends across several international art exhibitions, including the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Triennale.

Kawamata's work is characterized by the use of local materials and on-site production, and his Mt. Rokko piece is no exception. It utilizes wood from Hyogo Prefecture and logs from Mt. Rokko, which originally served as pond benches. During the production process, he remarked on how the gray herons inhabiting the pond would peek out from the treetops and watch him work. The festival's opening featured a captivating dance performance curated by Artist in Residence KOBE (AiRK) Mirai Moriyama.

3. Overflowing (Miisa Kato)

At first glance, Miisa Kato's Overflowing appears to be made of glass. However, it's actually a remarkable composition of 700 transparent water balls that you can reach out and feel, creating a sensory interplay between sight and touch as it changes with the shifting weather and light.

While the concept may seem simple, production was anything but. According to the festival staff, Kato tirelessly welded metal every day wearing full work attire and goggles in the sweltering summer heat in the Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden backyard. Viewing her creation, you’ll no doubt sense her passion woven into its very fabric.

More Than Just Art! Other Amazing Mt. Rokko Festival Attractions

Recommended Activity: Lighting Forest - Night Art Stroll

Lighting Forest - Night Art Stroll is an interactive nighttime event consisting of light and imagery. At the Rokko Musical Box Museum & Gardens MORINONE, artist Kyota Takahashi has rendered a heartwarming scene of small LED lights encased in bags with smiley faces hung on trees. 5,000 elementary and junior high school students from Kobe joined in the creation of the piece, named “Hikari no Mi” (Fruits of Light), infusing it with genuine smiles.

At the Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden are also the five "Fountains of Light" scattered throughout, from which visitors can gather shimmering gem-like fragments. Once you've completed your journey and collected each piece, you'll be treated to a mesmerizing light and music spectacle at the finishing point.

*Lighting Forest - Night Art Stroll takes place on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Autumn Foliage Light-Up: Red and Yellow Maples After Dark

Owing to Mt. Rokko’s cooler temperatures, which are approximately 5 degrees lower than the flatlands, the autumn leaves here flaunt their vibrant hues earlier than much of Kobe. Those who visit Mt. Rokko in the evening for the Lighting Forest - Night Art Stroll will also be able to witness the crimson trees along the walking path come alive with light, heightening their intensity.

Enchanting Scenery: Nighttime Kobe Panoramas From Mt. Rokko

The night scenery of Kobe earned its fame back in 1953 when it was dubbed the "Million Dollar Night View" due to its staggering monthly electricity cost surpassing a million dollars. Various night view competitions have come and gone over the decades, but Kobe's night view continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the Japanese. When you visit Rokko Meets Art, be sure to stick around until after dark to bask in the magic of this romantic sea of lights under the stars.

You can enjoy the night view from Sky View Terrace (1) on the upper floor of Rokko Cable Sanjo Station, as well as from the Rokko Garden Terrace (8).

Kobe Gastronomy: Limited-Edition Dishes Made With Rokko Miso

Rokko Meets Art also has seven restaurants and cafes dotted about the festival proudly serving dishes made with Rokko Miso. Rokko Miso is a naturally fermented and unpasteurized local miso, with a rich flavor that complements both savory and sweet dishes.

For lamb-lovers, don't miss the restaurant serving the unique “jingisukan,” which is centered around original-recipe miso-marinated lamb leg (photo 1). For something lighter, opt for the Miso French Honey Sauce Burger (photo 2) at Forest Cafe in the Rokko Musical Box Museum & Gardens MORINONE (4). The burger’s full-bodied sauce is made from red miso paste, and strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory, making it a wonderful match for the veggies inside.

For dessert, we suggest the Rokko Miso-infused caramel ice cream, available at TENRAN CAFE in Rokko Cable Sanjo Station (1). Topped with crunchy caramelized walnuts, this creamy, autumn-inspired treat promises a satisfying end to your day or night!

Make the Most of Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond!

Must-Know Tips Before Visiting

The weather on Mt. Rokko can be unpredictable. The temperature often fluctuates dramatically between day and night, and fog and rain is not uncommon, so it's wise to be well-prepared. Wear comfortable walking attire and shoes and bring rain gear and warm clothing for unexpected weather shifts. Also be sure to check the latest timetables for all transportation beforehand and plan your visit accordingly.

Ticket Information

To make the most of Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond, we suggest purchasing one of the “passports,” which have a different price depending on where you buy it. However, if time is limited and you plan to visit just one or two exhibitions, individual venue tickets might be a better choice. For in-depth details, please see the official website's ticket information.

Where to Buy Your Passport
You can purchase a passport at designated train stations or tourist centers in Kobe, online, or at the Rokko Sanjo Ticket Office.

Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond Passports (Rokko Sanjo Ticket Office Prices)

・Viewing Passport With Night Pass: Access to all exhibits, including Lighting Forest.

Adults: 4,000 yen; Children: 1,700 yen

・Viewing Passport: Access to all exhibits, but not Lighting Forest.

Adults: 3,000 yen; Children: 1,500 yen

・Night Pass: Admission to Lighting Forest - Night Art Stroll

Adults: 1,900 yen; Children: 950 yen

Multi-Language Support
Rakuten Travel offers advanced ticket purchases in English and Chinese (Traditional/Simplified)

Multi-Language Support

An Artful Autumn Journey in Kobe

When you visit Rokko Meets Art 2023 Beyond, you'll discover that art isn't something distant; in fact it’s wonderfully accessible in the lush natural surroundings of Mt. Rokko near the vibrant city of Kobe. There’s only a few more weeks of the event left in 2023, so don't let this final opportunity slip away!


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Kansai Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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Dawn Cheng
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