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Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park and the Plum and Cherry Blossoms

Away from Kobe‘s city center, the Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park (須磨浦山上遊園) is a scenic amusement park on the slopes of Mt. Tekkai (鉄拐山) and Mt. Hatsubushi (鉢伏山) overlooking Awaji Island (淡路島) and Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge (明石海峡大橋). Once a battlefield for the Battle of Yashima (屋島の戦い) back in 1185, this park is now a famous place to admire plum and cherry blossoms.

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Refer to HERE for Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park Map.

How to Get to Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park

Getting to the park on Mt. Hachibuse, 246m above sea level, is easy. Take the Sumaura Ropeway from Sumaurakōen Station (須磨浦公園駅). You will travel in the air for three minutes with a magnificent view spreading in front of you on the gondola lift! From the Hachibuse Sanjo Station (ropeway station), you can take the Sumaura Carlator (short for car escalator) or the stairs to the chairlift station. The chairlifts at the Settsu Station will take you to the park’s main area around Harima Station (はりま駅) in four minutes.

One thing we want to warn you about the Sumaura Carlator is that it is known as Japan’s most uncomfortable ride. While many find the three-minute bumpy journey interesting, it is best to avoid it if you get motion sickness easily. But note that the slope isn’t gentle, and it will take around 30 minutes.

© photo-ac.com

If you enjoy hiking, you can also take a detour and hike from Hachibuse Sanjo Station to the main area via Mt. Hatafuri (旗振山). To further challenge yourself, hiking from Sumaurakōen Station is also possible, and takes around 30 minutes.

Note the train is operated by Sanyō Electric Railway (山陽電鐵), not JR. Also, Sumarakōen Station is a small stop. You will have to change at Sanyō Tarumi Station (山陽垂水駅) if you are coming from Akashi or Himeji and change at Sanyō Suma Station (山陽須磨駅) if you are coming from Kobe and Osaka.

  • The station of the Sumaura Ropeway to Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park is just next to Sanyō Electric Railway (山陽電鐵) Sumaurakōen Station (須磨浦公園駅).
  • As each mode of transport to the park costs money, get the set ticket for 1,800 yen for adults and 1,350 yen for children.
  • You can also pay for each mode of transport separately. Refer to the price table at the end of the Official Website.

Observation Tower’s Cafe Cosmos (喫茶「コスモス」)

Before taking the chairlift, how about stopping by the Observation Tower’s Cafe Cosmos on the 3rd floor? The cafe itself rotates slowly, so diners can enjoy the incredible revolving views of Osaka Bay from every corner, no matter where they sit. The cafe is a great spot to adore the flowers during the plum and cherry seasons, even if the weather isn’t ideal.

If you don’t have 55 minutes to wait for the cafe to complete a full rotation, head upstairs to the outdoor observation floor. Furthermore, your photos from the rooftop won’t have the reflection from the glasses!

Note that there are no vegetarian savory options at the cafe. The staff may be able to customize the pizza toast for you. If you run into communication issues, refer to our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article.

Hatafuri Bishamon-dō (旗振毘沙門堂)

After getting off the chairlift at Harima Station, climb up the stairs to the Hatafuri Bishamon-dō (旗振毘沙門堂). The temple was built on the border of the former Settsu (摂津) and Harima (播磨) provinces. Because of its high elevation, Mt. Hatafuri’s summit used to be where Osaka’s rice market price was communicated through flags in the Edo period.

It is said that the prayers made here are constantly answered by the Bishamonten (毘沙門天) enshrined. So, many people visit the Hatafuri Bishamon-dō to pray for their businesses’ prosperity and good academic results.

The Plum and Cherry Blossoms at Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park

From Hatafuri Bishamon-dō, head down to the West Observatory (西部展望台). Parts of the promenade have cherry trees lined on both sides. Thus, you will walk in a cherry blossom tunnel when the flowers bloom. When you go up to the observation deck, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (明石海峡大橋) and the city the west part of Kobe’s cityscape can be clearly seen.

The park’s plum grove is on the hill in front of the West Observatory. There are around 310 red plums and 350 white plums. With various varieties planted in the plum grove, the plum blossom season at Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park is long, from late January to mid-March. Many varieties of the plums bloom usually between late February and early March.

From late March to early April, the locals visit the park for the 3,200 cherry trees spread from the closest train station all the way to the top of the mountain. Because the park is a popular cherry blossom spot in Kobe, visit the park early, or you might get stuck in the queue to board the ropeway and gondola lift.

Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park’s Flower Calendar

  • Narcissus: mid-January to mid-February
  • Plum blossoms: mid-February to late March
  • Cherry blossoms: late March to mid-April
  • Azalea: early April to early May
  • Wisteria: April to May
  • Hydrangeas: late May to late June

Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park’s Opening Hours

  • Sumaura Sanjō Yūen Park is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Monday.
    • If Tuesday is a public holiday, the park will open.
    • The opening hours may be extended on the 1st of January and when events are on.

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