I took a day trip with K-san (unnamed for privacy) to Kobe during my week-long Japan vacation. We took the direct JR line (around 50 minutes) from our Osaka accommodation to Kobe’s central station, Sannomiya Station. Check out Japan Guide for a detailed travel guide between Osaka and Kobe!
Wagyu immediately comes to mind when Kobe is mentioned, and I am so excited because we planned to visit a good wagyu restaurant, and do some leisurely sightseeing. The area leading to our first stop, Mt. Maya, was covered in beautiful sakura blooms lining a river. There were also many sakura trees outside the Art Center of Kobe. Appreciative remarks about the sakura made by the hanami viewers could be heard as we enjoyed our walk through the area.
After many kirei desu ne (綺麗ですね, it’s so beautiful) the pair of us finally reached the bottom of Mt. Maya. Mt. Maya is one of the smaller peaks of the Mt. Rokko chain, and is highlighted for its scenic and natural beauty! There were already a few hikers heading up the mountain before us.
A word of advice: wear comfortable shoes! The bottom steps of the mountain were oddly shaped so it can be difficult to climb. The hike up to the waterfall was steep but I really enjoyed the serenity of the place. Hiking never really appealed to me, but the experience is really meditative. You either introspect, admire nature, or talk to your companion. I highly recommend this for either pairs/couples or individuals. 🙂
The waterfall we saw wasn’t that majestic or big, but still beautiful nonetheless. Visitors and hikers alike were quietly talking amongst themselves, keeping the peace of the place. Perhaps they are bathing in the negative ions of the waterfall!
We decided to climb a little higher towards the observation platform, which promised a skyline of Kobe city. The platform was also surrounded by sakura trees! Few people were in this area so we could take as many pictures as we liked at our leisure.
Finally, it was time for our lunch reservation at Wakkoqu, a restaurant famous for quality Tajima wagyu! You definitely have to make an early reservation either at their website or call them directly because they are very popular. They also have English speaking staff and a website in English, so reservation is fuss-free and easy. Do double-check that you have chosen the right store as they have two locations.
We were ravenous for some yummy wagyu after our workout, so we ordered the Lunch Wakkoqu Course: 150g sirloin, six kinds of grilled vegetables, soup of the day (potato soup), salad, rice and Japanese pickles, dessert, and coffee. I think “heavenly” is the best adjective here.
We could not stop gushing about how scrumptious the food was. The course started with the potato soup, which was creamy but light with small bits of potatoes. Meanwhile, the chef brought out the A4 sirloin, while we were served the salad. We were rather disappointed that the sirloin was divided between the both of us instead of being served one each.
The chef prepared the sauces and condiments-salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, and soy sauce-before grilling the garlic and the steak. If you have eaten good quality steak before, you will know that each piece of meat just melts in your mouth. The first piece was sprinkled with salt and pepper, the conventional way of eating steak. I really loved the meat juices that melded with salty flavour. The next piece was paired with pepper and garlic. The sweet garlic and fragrant pepper really complemented the steak. This must be what people call a medley of flavours dancing in your mouth. The third piece was quite unusual-soy sauce and mustard. I really loved the spiciness of the mustard but I felt that the soy sauce was a little underwhelming. Out of these three styles, I preferred the very first. Of course, you are always welcome to eat the steak in any way you like!
The chef had also cut the strip of fat and cooked it with some beansprouts. It was delicious because of the added beef flavour but I probably would have just liked it the same attached to some meat. Even so, the different textures of the wagyu can really be enjoyed to the fullest. I really want to go back.
After the starters and main course, we were served some delightful yuzu sorbet and coffee. The portions were slightly small but the food was certainly delicious. Gochisousama deshita! (Thank you for the meal!)
We headed to the UCC Coffee Museum on a whim as it was in the area. Unfortunately, coffee tasting was over so we didn’t get any. I am slightly disappointed because UCC’s drip coffee smells really good and the kokumi (こくみ, richness or depth of flavour) is just right, not too acidic or bitter.
So now you know, coffee tasting is held at specific times! The museum’s website (in Japanese) explains that for the month of April 2016 visitors can compare blend coffee (Brazilian base) and 100% Brazilian coffee at 4 designated times.
If you miss the coffee tasting, you can always either buy some from their cafe or the museum shop. Coffee aficionados should definitely visit at least once, even if to try the coffee or out of pure interest for the technical details of coffee plant seasons to the interactive exhibits.
There were so many interesting facts I never knew about the coffee plant, i.e. the flowers of the coffee plant are white. You can challenge the quiz they have in the museum to get a Dr. Coffee Certificate. Not to worry, they have the questions in English as well.
I think the most interesting fact I’ve learned that day is about the coffee belt. The coffee plant is grown only between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, which points to warmer countries – but does not include Japan! The coffee plant is also rather sensitive to climate changes, so coffee may become scarce in the future. 🙁
Want More Kobe?
These were some of the places we wanted to visit but couldn’t fit in our schedule. They shall be on our itinerary for our next trip to Kobe!
This place comes highly recommended by nature lovers due to the sheer volume of stunning flowers in the greenhouses. The area is really big so I reckon I can easily spend a hour or two strolling in the flower fields.
Like its namesake, the pastries are all handmade! This shop serves delicious pastries and sweets which you can either get as a takeaway or indulge at their cafe area. The images on their website looks irresistible! Give me some now!
You should definitely visit this place if you love animals and nature! You can pet them at designated parts of the farm. There are also many hands-on activities where you can make ice cream, butter or engage in wool craft. You can also observe the cheese-making process at their factory.
I didn’t get the chance to scale Mt. Rokko but someday, I really want to see the nightscape in person at the top of this mountain! You can also build a musical box at the Rokko International Musical Box Museum, or enjoy a leisurely walk through the Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden.
This place is basically an interactive zoo suitable for animal lovers and families. Their main feature though, is the largest collection of owls! Seasonal flowers also grace the zoo making it one of the highlights for visitors.
Sake is known to be a Japanese alcoholic beverage but do you really know how it’s made? In addition to observing the sake-making process, you can also acquire some special sake at their museum shop!
Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.