- 1 | The Cosmopolitan Port City—Kobe
- In 1868, Kobe opened its doors to foreign trade as an international port. With many foreigners arriving from abroad and settling there, Kobe soon became a cosmopolitan town, a veritable crossroads of Japanese tradition and foreign culture. At the time, the Japanese were not accustomed to eating meat. However, an Englishman was about to change all that. Apparently, Tajima-gyu was first eaten in Kobe by an Englishman who obtained a cow from some farmers that was used for farm work. Upon eating its meat and savoring its flavor, he must surely have felt that it was a gift from heaven. From then on, foreign ships entering Kobe port also started to ask for deliveries of cattle and beef, which in no time came to be called “Kobe Beef.”
- 2 | Flavor Favored by the Influential Past and Present
- In the same year that Kobe port was opened to foreign trade, Hirofumi Ito, a famous figure in Japanese history, was appointed the first Governor of Hyogo Prefecture. Hirofumi Ito is famous for being internationally minded as a result of his having studied in Great Britain. He is also well-known for having helped to build up Kobe’s Foreign Settlement. There is a famous anecdote that even he ate and relished the flavor of Kobe beef.
Scene of Kobe City during the Meiji period (1868 to 1912). The streets of the old Foreign Settlement with its rows of Western-style buildings could be seen from the sea beyond Kobe port. (courtesy of Kobe Municipal Museum)
Many foreign residents met socially at premises that eventually came to be called the “Kobe Club.”
(courtesy of Kobe Municipal Museum)
- 1 | Coming to Japan? Then, you must definitely savor Kobe Beef.
Another famous story is that U.S. President Barack Obama specifically ordered Kobe beef upon his visit to Japan in 2009. Overseas, “Kobe Beef” is more than a common household word. There is no end to the list of American politicians, besides President Barack Obama, royal family members, Hollywood stars and other celebrities who insist on Kobe beef when they visit Japan. Recently, many stars and celebrities are even requesting incognito visits to farms to see how Kobe-gyu cows are raised.
- 2 | So memorable that they named their son after a gourmet dish
- Kobe, the first name of that world-famous professional basketball player Kobe Bryant, is, in fact, the Americanized pronunciation taken from Kobe City. Apparently, Kobe’s parents were so moved by the taste of Kobe beef steak when they visited Japan that the name “Kobe” instantly sprung to mind when they were naming their son. This is lasting proof that, even as time goes by, the flavor of Kobe beef remains sharp in people’s memories. We are sure that its deliciousness will delight the palates of people around the world in years to come, too.
The consommé soup from Kobe beef can only be described as “drops of gold.”
Kobe beef has inspired the most talented and skillful of chefs to create unforgettable gourmet experiences.