Hyogo’s Top Delicacies: Crab and Tajima Beef

Some of the best beef and crab in the world comes from Hyogo Prefecture, served up as Japanese cuisine ranging from lightly-grilled Tajima-gyu to fresh crab sashimi. IMG_0731  Kobe Beef is the world-renown grade of beef that, among other things, apparently became the source of Laker’s basketball star Kobe Byrant’s name (albeit pronounced differently that the Japanese “Kōbé”). However, what’s often sold as Kobe Beef in regular restaurants and stores in the West is not the real thing. Instead, the real Kobe Beef can be found all over Japan, particularly in Hyogo, and more particularly from its source in Hyogo’s northeastern region called “Tajima”.IMG_0739The top beef in the world starts with Tajima-ushi; a general term for beef from Tajima, the best of which is referred to as Tajima-gyu. Furthermore, the best of Tajima-gyu is chosen to be Kobe Beef. Confusingly, the actual source of Kobe beef is not the city Kobe, but the Tajima region to the northeast. In any case, one can readily find restaurants and Japanese-style inns (ryokan) serving up the high-level Tajima-gyu all around Hyogo Prefecture (which can be significantly cheaper than Kobe Beef).IMG_0743For the ideal top-class combination of beef and crab though, I recommend going to Kinosaki Onsen, a part of Toyooka City that offers the above delicacies as well as some of the most famous onsen (Japanese hot-springs) in all of Japan. The best time to go to Kinosaki onsen is from approximately November 6th to March 20th, when the local crabs appear in the largest numbers. Eating crab in Japan means that fresh sashimi (raw) and tempura (fried) varieties are also available. I personally recommend trying the sashimi version if possible, as it’s a rare chance to try delectable raw crab that melts in your mouth. Tajima Beef, especially in its Tajima-gyu form, is wonderfully easy to chew and thinly sliced in a way far different from the “medium-rare” way of cooking in the States. IMG_0735IMG_0730

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