Watch a journey from a little Airbnb home to Saiin station by bike, with a train ride down to Kobe, Japan to have affordable Kobe beef in Nankinmachi (Chinatown), a ride on the Rokkoliner, a trip to Sakura-masamune sake museum, and a view from Kobe Tower to cap out the night.

Obviously known quite fondly for its beef, Kobe, Japan has a huge amount of beef restaurants to capitalize on its fame. With so many to choose from, what’s really the best? My name is Bill Kearney, founder of LightShift Video, and I’m deciding to skip the fancy settings and flair and find the best cut of kobe beef I can find without breaking the bank, or paying for unnecessary glamour.

Believe it or not, the place that suited me the best was Kobe’s Chinatown, known as Nankin-machi, near Motomachi station. If you want the fine dining places, they have a few nearby, but what really stood out for me was a well advertised, but affordable Kobe beef street stand right in the heart of Nankin-machi. This little place has an entry level 60 gram Kobe option at 1000 Yen (~$9), a “red meat” 80 gram Kobe cut at 1500 Yen (~$13.50), and a premium all out slice of Kobe cattle at 4500 Yen! (~$40.56) Due to the slightly bigger size and presumed quality, I went for the 1500 Yen slice. Save the Premium Kobe for people with money to burn. Can it really be THAT much better?

After a great meal, you might as well explore the city a bit since you made the trek. Hit the “regular” trains for a while and you’ll come across an unusual sign and symbol, known as the Rokkoliner. What is this unique train anyway? As soon as you get on, you’ll realize it seems to have a rather “open” view on the front. Yep, you guessed it, this is an automated rail. There’s no one driving this thing! Get good views of the Kobe area and head to the harbor area where we’ll walk up the street a ways to find the Sakura-masamune sake brewery and museum.

It was rather quiet at the museum and if you want to check out a place that isn’t crowded with tourists, you may enjoy this lesser known gem. If you are curious about the history of sake making, you’ll see plenty of old artifacts here, but don’t miss the true diamond in the rough, which is a little restaurant/bar hidden behind the museum. With friendly staff and a TON of great sake to try out, you’ll be glad you stumbled across this place.

I tried the Junmai-shu which is a dry sake, and from what I’ve heard before, if you have a dry pallet for wine, you’ll prefer a drier sake, especially if it’s a little hot. Fried octopus and a small cheese dish are some of the many appetizers you can get here, or you can go into the restaurant for a dining experience. If finding a quiet place to drink sake and learn about the history of sake making is in your agenda, swing on by here.

It’s getting dark and one important landmark of Kobe is Kobe Tower, which is a must see if you are just coming by here for the first time. Open until 9pm, you’ll get sweeping views of Kobe from this tower with multiple observatory levels to check out the city.

Well it was a good day trip to Kobe and time to head back to Kyoto. When you get back, don’t forget your bike!

We’d love to hear about your travels in Kobe and your ideas for great Kobe beef, or travels throughout Japan and beyond!