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Japan Travel Tips: Kobe

To most people outside of Japan when you say "Kobe beef" they think you mean any beef from Japan but actually Kobe beef is a specific type of wagyu beef. While the wagyu (literally "Japanese cow") is raised all over Japan, specific regions have their own way of raising cattle and strict rules about what qualifies beef from that region. Kobe is one of those regions and they are so renowned for how they raise their wagyu that we undertook a pilgrimage to taste this amazing beef.

Our visit to Kobe in April of 2016 was unfortunately marred with rain but we still visited two places that I would recommend for anyone who is visiting Kobe.


Kobe beef is the reason you should come to Kobe. Full stop. There are dozens if not hundreds of places that will serve you Kobe beef. The restaurants near the train station seemed a bit like tourist traps to us so we expanded our search and lucked out in finding an absolutely outstanding place called Koushiya. It is a yakiniku style restaurant and we got our own private room where we spent two hours grilling up some of the best beef that any of us had ever tasted. The place was expensive, about $400 for four of us, but I would go back to this restaurant in a heartbeat.

Oji Zoo

Kobe is home to the Oji Zoo and I will recommend it to anyone visiting Kobe for two reasons:

  1. They have a giant panda named Tan Tan.
  2. They have red freakin' pandas!!! When are you ever going to get the opportunity to see red pandas again?

There were also sea otters, flamingos, koalas, owls, penguins and even polar bears. All in all it was a very good zoo with a much more diverse set of animals then I was expecting.

We actually had a better experience because it was raining and the zoo had absolutely no other visitors. We had the entire park to ourselves. So if the weather is looking a bit down one day you could do a lot worse than checking out the Oji Zoo.