In Kobe, the mountains are part of everyday life. During the Meiji era, Arthur Hesketh Groom, a British businessman who lived in Kobe, built his leisure home on Rokkosan (Mt. Rokko). It is said to be the first house built on top of the mountain. Groom contributed to the development and conservation of the mountain range so that people could continue to come up and enjoy the natural environment, laying the foundation for the concept of “Kobe’s Backyard Mt. Rokko”. (To commemorate the deeds of Mr. Groom for developing Mt. Rokko for public leisure, there is an event called the “Groom Festival” in June every year to celebrate the start of the climbing and hiking season.)
At the beginning of the Meiji era, mountain climbing as a leisure activity was started in Japan by foreigners, and Mt. Rokko became the place where “modern climbing” began. The very first golf course in Japan was also built on Mt. Rokko. As more people began to enjoy various mountain leisure activities such as climbing, hiking, golf, camping, skiing, and ice skating, more private summer homes and company recreation facilities were built up on the mountain. Soon, more and more Japanese also built mountain villas and spent recreational time there.
However, after the bubble economy collapse in the ‘90s, many companies have given up their corporate facilities on Mt. Rokko and left them unused. But recently, joint efforts between the public and private sectors have started to try to revitalize mountain recreation. With its precious natural surroundings protected as a national park, and its proximity to both the city center and the sea, Mt. Rokko has the potential to provide many ways to enjoy nature, including sightseeing and leisure.
There are other reasons why Mt. Rokko has long been favored by foreigners as a place for living and recreation. There are countless and varied hiking trails, as well as plenty of spring water from underground water channels. The Arima hot springs, with excellent hot water that is good for one’s health, are also close by…
And not to mention, a stunning view that is one of the three major nightscapes in Japan.
Now we will introduce a family currently living up on Mt. Rokko. Mr. Bryan’s family bought a solitary house on Mt. Rokko in 2004 that used to be a company retreat.
The Decision to Live on the Mountain
— What was the catalyst?
— What was the deciding factor?
— Did you have any qualms about living so far away from the city?
Flexible Life and Work Style
— Is it normal for you to fix up your house on your own?
— How do you do your business here?
— Do you have any inconveniences working here?
— You have 2 sons, a 4th grader and 1st grader. How is the school environment?
— Since the school is up on the mountain, is there a ski field trip in the winter?
Clouds are the Enemy?
— Is there anything you dislike about living on the mountain?
— What do you mean?
— What do you mean, clouds come in?
— Looking around the house, there doesn’t seem to be much sign of humidity on the books or anything...
— I had thought you were going to say that snow would be the biggest trouble.
— It’s great that you can enjoy mountain life and still have easy access to downtown, isn’t it?