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.
Reared by Dedicated Farmers
When talking about Kobe Beef, we must not forget the role of the farms that rear these cows. Behind the title “Champion Cow” awarded to prize-winning cattle at the “Kyorei Kai” cattle show held at the end of every year are the untiring efforts of veteran farmers who really should be called “craftsmen cattle rearers.” The Kyorei Kai is the main event of the year where farmers can be recognized and rewarded for their hard efforts. 100 Hyogo Prefecture produce Tajima-gyu are put on show here and awarded medals including the Distinction Award and Best of Show. Producers awarded the Distinction Award are also presented with a pennant. Here is the first in a series of introductory articles about producers who have been awarded this prestigious prize.