Kobe Beef

It All Began With the Opening of Kobe Port to Foreign Trade

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.”

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.

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