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Mice Net : December 2008
japan sampled a delicious frozen type of sake and plum wine. Our menu consisted of local delicacies such as turtle which is known for containing collagen for youthful looking skin! We also had the chance to try the famous Kobe beef, which is farmed in a way that the animals are fed beer and sake and treated with regular massages. All of this extravagance lavished on the beast was more than worthwhile and the cube I tried literally melted away. For those of us who could stand without slurring after soaking up the sake, it was time to taste some more! We ventured from the brewery’s restaurant to its gift shop, tasting room and event space. The function room was an old sake warehouse which was rebuilt and transformed after the earthquake that rocked this region some 13 years ago. The skeleton of the building remained after the shockwaves subsided and is now a space that can cater for events for 150 guests. Stumbling into the mini-bus our group headed to the Kobe Convention Centre, which is in a precinct on a man-made island and is a hub for conferences and events. The area is made up of the Kobe International Convention Centre, Sports Centre and Kobe International Exhibition Hall. The area is linked with a monorail and direct train from the Kobe International Airport, and is also home to the five-star Portpia Hotel. Our next stop was a hoot, literally! The Kobe Kacho-en (flower park) is a wonderland of tropical fauna and flora and home to a magnificent function space. The ceiling is covered with hanging flower pots of begonias of all sizes and colours. Taking the drive through the tunnel to the other side of Mount Rokko, to the Arima Hot Springs Resort, a traditional dinner awaited us. The degustation-style dinner was more like a feast for the senses and any fan of Japanese food would have loved the chance to try the real deal. Our menu consisted of 13 courses and the cuisine ranged from delicious sashimi, pickled vegetables, Matsutake mushroom rice, boiled wild plants and beef Shabushabu (large pieces of thinly sliced beef dunked into a steaming pot for a couple of seconds). The Arima Hot Springs Resort is a destination where locals and visitors come to relax and the accommodation is in a traditional Ryokan style. Before we knew it, it was day two and we were speeding along in the Shinkansen bullet train on the way to the traditional precinct of Kyoto. Steeped in history and culture, Kyoto is known for being Japan’s original capital and is home to a diverse range of temples and attractions. After a full schedule the previous day we were glad to slow down and go a little bit ‘Zen’ at the Taizo-in Temple for a tour and lunch with the head priest. Looking at the intricately manicured gardens, the head priest explained the significance of each section of the garden before we experienced Shojin Zen cuisine. Our lunch was presented in a small wooden box and consisted of completely vegetarian creations that seemed too beautiful to be eaten. Our next stop, Kitanotenmangu Shrine, was strategically chosen by our Kyoto Convention Bureau guide James Kent because it was a shrine to writers. Once we made a five yen donation, rung the bell and made a wish we jumped into a cab to have a closer look at the venue where delegates signed the Kyoto Protocol. Arriving at the Kyoto International Convention Centre it was hard not to be intrigued with its space-age design. Built in the 60s this centre can accommodate large scale events. We heard on the grapevine that there was a fellow Aussie in town heading up the kitchen at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto and it seemed fitting to stop in for a chat with him - executive chef Matthew Crabbe - and to get a closer look at the beautiful property. Our evening’s activities were like no other I’ve ever experienced on a famil when we went undercover at an event to check out a venue in action. Donning brightly coloured jackets we snuck into the Kyoto Uzumasa Movie Studios while dodging questions from guests about where the toilet was, and had the chance to see how unique this venue was. It’s a popular location for kids’ birthday parties, but once darkness falls makes a great venue for a samurai-themed event. It’s an operating film set where period dramas are produced and the property features buildings straight out of ancient Japan. mice.net 111