Kyoto, Japan

The infamous Kobe beef, which tastes better than any meat Jim or I have ever eaten. The cost is ridiculously expensive since Japan protects the beef industry.

Touring the grounds of Chion-in (the temple and headquarters of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, the second largest sect in Japan), we happened upon this cemetery and found these old tombstones. Perhaps they date to the 13th century when the temple was founded. Notice the new stones just behind the old ones; this is common in this cemetery.

Inside Chion-in, the belfry houses the largest bell in Japan, which was cast in 1633. Bells in Asian countries are common and are rung by an external piece verses western-style bells that have an internal piece. This bell requires 17 monks to ring.

Chion-inís 79 foot, two-story entrance is perhaps the most impressive passage gate into a temple in Japan.

24 June 1999 - Mom and Dad are here for a few days (Iím enjoying a much needed dose of them) so I picked a restaurant I thought my Father would especially like called Mison, a branch of the famous Kobe restaurant that claims to have invented teppan-yaki. On a smooth, hot tableside grill, the chef cooks steak, seafood and vegetables to perfection.

Kobe beef is notoriously expensive since the Japanese government protects beef prices and cows are costly to raise since they are massaged, never worked and fed only the best food, and, some say, a beer or two. Our dinner totaled about $100 per person, which sounds high but is paltry compared with prices at many Kobe beef restaurants.

Dinner began with a small cut of chilled Kobe beef sitting atop grilled sweet onions. Then we each devoured a scallop; mine was the largest Iíd ever seen Ė wider in diameter than a ping-pong ball. Next course was a salad of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, corn and meat (which looked like ham but I avoided wanting only to savor Kobe meat during the evening).

Then our chef grilled beef, mushrooms, eggplant, a pumpkin-looking Japanese vegetable and onions. After the Kobe beef, the highlight of the evening was the garlic chips, which the chef cut into tiny pieces and then grilled to crispiness before serving 10-15 chips to each of us. Jim, who adores garlic, loved this new way of eating it and even my mother, who is not a fan, fell for these crispy, garlic chips.

Then miso soup along with steamed rice and pickled vegetables followed. I enjoy Japanese rice more than Chinese and Korean (perhaps because of the fluffiness) so even though I was a bit full, I ate my rice with a little dash of soy sauce added for proper seasoning. Unfortunately, I cannot learn to like miso or pickled Japanese vegetables.

So was my dinner worth the expense? Well, I wish I could say no and that Kobe beef is completely over-rated; however, the beef was the most tender, juicy, perfect meat I have ever tasted. I think the special texture and extraordinary taste comes from the ultra thin layer of red meat followed by an ultra-thin layer of white marble (or fat depending on how you look at life), followed by meat, then marble, meat, then marble. The effect of these layers makes the meat look pink in color instead of red like most good cuts of beef.

Overall a splendid meal and what a real treat for me to have three of the people I love most in the world together to share in the experience.


  A day in Osaka (Paige)
  Chioníin Temple in Kyoto (Paige)