There’s something you should know about summer in Japan: summer in Japan is hot. Very, very hot. Hot and intensely humid. And though the country is small, the climate varies in the different regions of Japan. The Kansai area, which includes the prefectures of Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, and Shiga, feels even hotter than the rest of Japan. My co-workers often tell me that Kyoto is the hottest city because it is in the middle of Japan, away from the coast, and surrounded by mountains. Kobe felt exactly the same.
Nick and I really didn’t have much time in Kobe. We traveled from Hamamatsu by local trains using the Seishun-18 Ticket, so it took us about five hours to finally get there. We headed over to Kitano-cho, which is famous for its Western houses. Several foreign merchants and diplomats settled in Kitano-cho after the Port of Kobe was opened to foreign trade in the second half of the 19th century. The interiors of the homes are supposed to be really nice, but we weren’t too interested in paying to enter each home, and our siblings weren’t too interested in seeing Western decor and architecture since they had just traveled from a Western country to experience Japan. So, the highlight of visit to Kitano-cho really was finding this small shop which served Kobe Pudding soft cream with a caramel topping.
After walking around Kitano-cho, we hiked back up towards Shin-Kobe Station so we could hike to Nunobiki Waterfalls. The waterfalls are located just behind the station. It’s amazing how you can just walk a few steps and find yourself outside of a city and surrounded by nature.
I found someone had left behind some pants during their hike…
After exploring in the heat, we headed over to our hotel in the downtown area. Generally, during our whole summer trek through Japan, we had been staying at business hotels for under 5,000 yen per person per night. One of my favorite hotels was this chain called “The B”. The B – Kobe was particularly nice and only cost about 4,000 yen per person per night.
As you can see, hotels are pretty small in Japan, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s just a place to sleep. This one had a fancy toilet that had buttons to open and close the seat lids. It was pretty cool.
Our last stop of the night was to head down Ikuta Road to Moriya, a famous teppanyaki restaurant which serves Kobe beef. What I learned while in Japan was that “Kobe beef” strictly means, beef from cows raised in Kobe. This means that any restaurant can claim to serve “Kobe beef” as long as the beef came from cows raised in Kobe. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s high-grade beef. If you want to enjoy good steak in Kobe, you have to make sure the restaurant is serving Kobe Wagyū. Moriya, luckily, is one of those restaurants!
This was our kind chef! Here, he is cooking garlic chips to eat with our steak.
He also made freshly grated wasabi!
We ordered a course meal which included various side dishes to the teppanyaki steak. This is a prosciutto salad…
Squash soup (mmm….), rolls of bread, a glass of red wine, and in the background are various seasonings and dips for the steak.
Here we are, ready to eat!
Eating Kobe Beef in Kobe was not cheap. The Kobe Beef Sirloin Steak (150g) with Hors d’oeuvres, Soup, Salad, Baked Vegetables, Choice of Bread or Rice, and a Drink (soft drinks/coffee/tea) is already 9,800 yen and on top of that we each had a glass of wine, so in total Nick and I spent a little over 20,000 yen, or approx. $260 based on the current exchange rate. Not the first time we’ve splurged on steak — we did the same on American Wagyu at Stripsteak in Vegas over a year ago. Totally worth it though if you’re a steak lover! I highly recommend it.