Kobe Beef and Japanese Wood Working – A Day Trip to Kobe, Japan
Visiting Kobe was not on our itinerary for this trip. In the past few years, Kevin has explored the art of wood working and he has completed some impressive projects with an interest that continues to grow. Japan has an extensive wood working history and art form that is admired around the world. While apprenticeships were easy to find, we did not have six weeks for Kevin to do an immersive wood working experience – maybe next trip – so the next best thing was looking for wood working shops which were difficult to find or at least not advertised to the public. Kevin found the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum but it was located in Kobe which was not a stop on our trip. However, due to the magic of Shinkansen bullet trains, getting to Kobe would be a breeze. We had a free day while in Kyoto so we took the opportunity to visit the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum.
Once we made the decision to go, we booked our Shinkansen bullet train tickets and lunch. We could not go to Kobe and not try their famous Kobe beef. Since it was the night before, I was not optimistic about snagging a spot at the best spots but I found one that was reasonable.
It was a very easy train ride from Kyoto straight to Kobe. While the main train station in Kobe is a bit away from the downtown area, the museum is quite close so we headed straight there and arrived just a few minutes before opening.
Read about our time visiting the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum here!
We spent almost two hours at the museum and felt it was definitely worth the trip to Kobe. We had a few hours in Kobe to explore before lunch so we used the time to explore the chocolate scene. While it is known that Kobe has a reputation for some of the best beef in the world, Kobe is also home to some impressive chocolatiers dating back to the early 1900s. L’avenue is one chocolate establishment located in Kobe. Walking into this store felt like going to a high end fashion store – it was definitely a bit intimidating! Everything in the display case looked amazing and not edible at the same time as each piece looked like artwork. All the descriptions were in Japanese so we had to snap a bunch of photos of them in order to translate and find out what we wanted. Ultimately, we decided on the Bouchees – layered biscuit with chocolate ganache and it was exceptional.
There are definitely some incredible places to experience Kobe beef in and the price you want to pay is often a factor in selecting where you dine. A tip I read about is that going for lunch is often less expensive and the same quality as going for dinner – so we were in good luck that our plan was to have lunch here. Since we decided the night before to come to Kobe, last minute reservations were tough to find at some of the “best” spots. And we were not in the mood to drop a ton of money on an expensive lunch for this occasion. I found Sai Dining and made reservations here for lunch as I liked the options for the menu and the price.
We arrived to this basement shop where there was a group of Japanese businessmen enjoying their lunch. Everyone is seated at a grill top where the chef prepares the food in front of you. We both ordered the “course A” which included seasonal soup, vegetables, grilled seasonal vegetables, rice, and the choice of coffee or tea at the end of the meal. We selected 80 grams of Kobe beef steak which totaled just under 4000 yen / 30 USD.
We really enjoyed our meal and all the food for a complete lunch and Kobe beef experience. We were slightly disappointed with the Kobe beef as it was more medium well than medium rare and compared to what we had a few nights ago at Teppan Tavern Tenamonya, which we enjoyed more.
We had two more stops before we left Kobe for this short half day trip. First we visited a cafe so Kevin could caffeinate – Nemu-no-ki. Then we visited one more chocolate shop – Jhoice Laboratory. The chocolatier greeted us and offered sample of his newest creation – tomato basil chocolate and as strange as it sounds, it was amazing. He uses exceptional ingredients and artistry to create such intricate chocolates. We purchased a box of his chocolates that included five beautifully crafted bonbons almost too pretty to eat … almost.
We made our way to the train station and waited for our train to Osaka while we enjoyed our newly acquired chocolates. Our time in Kobe was definitely brief but we were so happy to get the opportunity to explore it, even if it was only a few hours. The wood working museum was so fun and who knew Kobe was also known not only for their beef, but also for their chocolate.