Nada-Gogou, literally the “five villages of Nada,” refers to the five sake-producing areas in the cities of Kobe and Nishinomiya. Collectively, they are nationally renowned as one of the largest, most historical sake-producing regions in Japan.
The history of Nada-Gogou‘s sake production can be traced back to the early 1700s. It originally began in Nishinomiya, and documents from the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) described the region’s sake to be among the country’s finest. In the following decades, breweries established in the Nada area – many of which still stand today – contributed to the boom of Nada sake, which can be seen to be served at the Nobel Prize Ceremony Banquet.
Most will give the credit to Mount Rokko, which is where two of the most important ingredients of Nada sake come from: the mineral-heavy Miyamizu water, and brewer’s rice made from Yamada Nishiki short-grain rice that is grown there.
In Nada-Gogou, many sake breweries operate, over a span of approximately three kilometers east to west. Some open stores feature exhibition rooms that are open to the public, and allow guests to try experience sake tasting and a brewery tour. When you visit Kobe during the Rugby World Cup 2019, be sure to make a stop at one of these breweries and try a sake tasting, and learn about this facet of Japanese culture!
Having reached international fame, you may already be familiar with Kobe’s culinary specialty, known by many as Japanese Wagyu or “Kobe beef“. Kobe Beef is distinguished by its tender, flavourful meat that is well-marbled with fat. The meat must pass a series of strict testing, as only the highest grades of meat with exceptionally high levels of fat marbling earn the Kobe Beef label.
Historically, eating meat was banned in Japan for more than a thousand years prior to 1868. Cattle in particular, were revered as working animals, for their role in helping sustain agriculture, and were not eaten during this time. Upon the opening of Kobe Port in 1868, Japan once again allowed foreign settlers, and began to adopt Western customs including meat consumption. One British businessman turned his attention the the particular Tajima strain of cattle, which has now become known as Kobe beef. Today, Kobe beef is perhaps the hottest meat in today’s marketplace, attracting to many food lovers from all over the world. Former U.S. President Barack Obama is noted to have specifically ordered Kobe beef upon his visit to Japan in 2009.
There are many different ways to enjoy Kobe Beef, such as steak, shabu shabu and sukiyaki. One of the best ways to enjoy Kobe Beef is at a teppanyaki restaurant, where a chef grills the meat on an iron plate before customers’ eyes - showing off their grilling and slicing techniques. When visiting Kobe for the Rugby World Cup 2019, don’t pass up the opportunity to savour Kobe Beef!
While you are visiting Kobe City for the Rugby World Cup in 2019, you can take a train for about 30 minutes from the city centre to extend your journey to Arima onsen. With more than a thousand years of history, it has become a prominent hot spring retreat.
Arima onsen offers two different types of hot spring waters which flow from various sources around town: gold, and silver. The gold hot spring water is coloured by iron deposits, and is said to be good for preventing skin disease and muscle pain, while the silver hot spring water contains radium and carbonate and is said to cure various muscle and joint pains.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the feudal ruler who succeeded Oda Nobunaga and unified Japan in 1590, greatly loved to recover at the Arima onsen between battles, and worked for Arima's revitalization and prosperity. Together with Ehime’s Dogo Onsen and Wakayama’s Shirahama Onsen, it is among Japan’s Three Ancient Springs.
Remarkably, Arima onsen has preserved the traditional culture of ozashiki (or geisha gatherings) since ancient times. The traditional Japanese female entertainers act as hostesses, while dawning kimono and makeup. Geisha usually operate in various hotels and ryokans - performing songs, dances, and playing shamisen (a Japanese folk instrument). Ozashiki at Arima onsen provides an opportunity to experience this aspect of Japanese hospitality , and of course have fun.
Travelling up by ropeway for about 30 minutes from the city centre, one can admire the wide-scaled panoramic view overlooking both Akashi-Kaikyo bridge and the glittering expanse of Osaka Bay, to the Kansai International Airport from the observation deck.
Within this panoramic view located 880 metres above the sea level on Mount Rokko, visitors can take delight in the shopping and gourmet cuisine at the Rokko Garden Terrace. The highlight of Mount Rokko is the breathtaking night views, canonized alongside Mt. Inasa and Mt. Hakodate as one of the Three Great Night Views of Japan. The view from the top of Mount Maya, a part of the Rokko mountains, has been dubbed a “Ten Millon Dollar Night View”. 931-metre-high Mount Rokko provides one of the most renowned hiking experiences in the Kansai region. Hiking in Rokko mountains is extensive, offering many trails from beginners to veterans.
Climbing up to the peak of Mount Rokko, there is another ropeway named ‘Rokko-Arima Ropeway’ which will take you to one of the oldest hot springs resort, Arima onsen. The Ropeway brings you up the mountains and into the Rokko Herb Garden, with a stop at the mid point for if you want to walk up or down part way in nature. Enjoy mountain hiking and hot springs all in one day.