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No matter how many expressions I pull, or faces I make, or things I say
I can't describe how good that was.
So in Japan there are five types of famous beef.
And today we're off to go and see one of them and that is Yonezawa beef.
The city of Yonezawa beef is in the south of Yamagata, which is the place where I've been living the passed 3 years.
But somehow I've never actually eaten any steak from there.
So this is it this is what I've been waiting for, for 3 years.
I'm joined today by Ryotaro.
-Hello -He is Japanese
-I'm Japanese. -But he thinks he's British.
Alright I am….what do you think.
That's exactly what we sound like in the UK.
Do I sound like a pom?
Incredible impressions of a British person aside,
what are we doing today?
We're eating the beef tomorrow, so today we're going to a Ryokan?
A traditional Japanese inn.
That's right.
Why this ryokan? Why did we choose this one?
Ok so, when I sort it on the website I saw this really great outside bath with a waterfall.
Ah like at onsen?
That's right.
And with the snow I think it'l look very nice.
So we've got an onsen -a hot spring,
a ryokan - a traditional Japanese inn
and Yonezawa beef.
This is going to be a good trip.
This is Ryotaro's music. Madonna.
This is what…this came out in 1980 something.
And you know it right?
I've never heard it in my life.
I don't mind Madonna's 80's stuff though - it's quite good.
Yeah it's quite good actually, the one's she released in the 80's.
Then it all went downhill after the 90's.
Before checking in we first decided to explore the local town, famous for it's hot springs
after the ryokan gave us both some stylish silver coats.
the fun never ends.
Look at him go.
What is this?
It's a hot spring actually - a natural hot spring that you can drink.
It is quite hot.
It's 72 degrees.
Is it quite sulphuric?
It is and it's salty actually. I tried it. So I think you should as well.
How much do you drink?
Well, just a little bit. I don't know
- as much as you want. It's good for your blood circulation.
-Oh my god it smells like a rotten egg. -Just try it. Just sip…
It's good for your health!
That's horrible.
It is isn't it! But it's good for your health.
So what did you think?
It's just like seawater.
Drinking seawater that smells like rotten eggs.
That's true.
What's she doing? Fishing for eggs?
No actually she's soaking eggs.
She's soaking eggs.
Actually they soak eggs in the hot spring for, I think 10 minutes or something.
10 minutes.
Yeah, so that it gets half soft, half boiled. And you put some soy sauce on the top and you can eat it.
So you can eat it?
Yeah you can eat it.
We'll get to eat it tomorrow morning actually.
So here are some eggs that are being boiled now…presumably.
-So how long will they be there? For 12 minutes? -12 minutes.
So who's eggs are they?
I don't know.
They've just left them there.
They're pretty confident.
I mean this shows just how safe it is.
The safety of Japan
you can leave your eggs boiling in some water down the street, and no-one will ever come and take them.
You couldn't do that in the UK.
You couldn't leave your eggs boiling in the water down the street. They'd be gone in 25 seconds.
The most dangerous thing in Japan…Isis.
Real Isis.
Look at the size of them.
It's massive isn't it?
How many people a year do you think, meet their demise standing underneath those?
Well it actually happens a lot actually. I had it once.
It just came off on to my head.
And you didn't die?
I didn't die. I'm a strong guy you know.
After exploring the town and it's delicious mineral water,
we headed back to the ryokan to check into our rooms, before entering the hot spring.
So the thing I love about ryokans is the rooms are just so peaceful and relaxing.
You can see why Japanese families come here to relax.
In many ways you do feel like you've gone back in time - with the exception of the Panasonic television and a few other items.
And I find it a really great place to just disconnect from the outside world and just relax and unwind
With the view of the snow coming down outside,
it all comes to together to create just this, really peaceful, wonderful atmosphere.
With the exception of the snow coming off of the roof like that.
just your colour.
Yeah? Am I a purple guy?
I think you are a purple guy.
Oh really.
When you coming into a ryokan room, then you're going to have this.
This is a Yukata.
Some people say its like a kimono.
But a kimono is like a really thick and colourful.
The one that we would wear to celebrate something.
But in ryokan we call this a Yukawa - it's really thin.
What else…
okay. You've got this big towel.
And then in the bag with a small towel inside.
Big towel, is to wipe your body off after you get out of the bath.
Small towel is the one you take in.
Modesty towel!
Sure. Modesty towel
you cover the private parts of the body. So you can take this into the bath.
But one thing you must not do is - please do not soak this one into the water.
So what you do,
what you do while you're in the bath - you put your towel, on your head.
Let's see what you look like with the yukata.
Okay, alright.
Oh yeah…
So we're about to go into the onsen - let's change into the Yukata….so…
So there you go
- like a Jedi knight.
But better.
Only problem with Yukata is it really does make your stomach stick out.
So if you're like me, you have to stand up straight and give the illusion, you're fit.
Let's go!
What a way to enter an onsen.
You have to put you underwear into this.
And the towel. Remember I told you before - big towel inside, small towel - with you.
That's about it.
So we have to take our clothes off, so over.
Freezing cold!
I can't actually show you much, because we're not wearing anything.
But this is what an outdoor onsen looks like.
You've got a bench there for when you need a bit of time out.
Hot bath.
Awesome waterfall…
falling snow.
This is the reason this is like my favourite thing in Japan.
It's so cold! Right now, it's January,
it's snowing and we're still not in the bath!
Let's go!
This is it
Look at that
So….there you go.
That's what it looks like in an onsen.
And…it's so nice…absolutely beautiful.
I feel very mellow after that, very - very relaxed.
Did you enjoy that?
Oh I loved it. I just absolutely loved it.
With the waterfall and everything.
The waterfalls, the snow…
I know! It was perfect.
After relaxing in the onsen, we headed over to our private dining room for an incredible feast,
which would be hosted by the owner of the Kajikaso Ryokan, Mr Satou.
Look at that. Fantastic.
The meat! It's Yonezawa beef
Look at the presentation absolutely amazing.
This is what it's all about. And the beautiful snowy scene outside.
Had such an amazing dinner this evening.
To call it a dinner wouldn't seem right. It felt more like an experience.
What with all the little dishes, the amazing, beautiful presentation.
The copious amounts of sake.
And i think the best thing about eating at a ryokan like that is the pacing of the meal.
It's very nicely paced out, so you never feel stuffed. You never feel too full.
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish where thinly sliced beef is boiled in hot water.
The term shabby shabu is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound emitted when the beef is stirred through the boiling water.
And before eating it you dip it into a vinegar soy sauce.
And it tastes incredible.
Smells good!
Very good?
Very good! Very very good.
And, this beef, drink with Nihonshu (sake). It's very nice.
Ah yeah!
Nihonshu (sake) is very good.
I agree.
Best of all we were joined by the owner Mr Satou, who's such a really nice guy.
Maybe I'm saying that because he gave me copious amounts of sake.
Or maybe I'm saying that because he genuinely is a really nice guy.
Ah beef and sake - good combination.
It's very fruity!
Like white wine.
But it's Nihonshu(sake).
So nice. Such great hospitality!
Top notch.
The next day Mr Satou generously arranged for us to go for lunch at a nearby famous Yonezawa beef restaurant,
and even got us access to seeing the beef being prepared behind the scenes.
You know it's serious business when you have to wear this…
And that.
You look very nice with the hat.
Yeah. It's like a rapper.
Dj Beef…guy.
Japanese beef or wagyu as it's known in Japanese, is famous for it's marbling,
whereby the beef contains a high amount of fat.
The uniqueness of Yonezawa beef is that the fat, compared to other beef is very soft.
Even at a lower temperature, it starts melting. So we need to keep the room very cool.
It melts! When you touch it, it starts melting.
Oh yeah.
It's like ice cream.
Due to the fat's low melting point, it means the steak quit literally melts in the mouth and has an incredibly rich, almost buttery flavour,
creating one of the richest, juiciest steaks in the world.
As someone who absolutely loves steak , I can tell you now, once you've tried it,
regular steak will never, ever, taste as good again.
To produce the marbling effect, the beef comes from the finest cattle,
which are fed an intensive high grain diet.
Whilst regular cattle are slaughter around 15 months, wagyu cattle are raised until 36 months.
And this obsessive and length process of quality control, leads to some of the best tasting, and most expensive beef on the planet.
Chris. He is also marbled.
Cut! Cut!
It's marbling!
Cheeky Mr Satou.
This is the definition of Yonezawa beef, what makes Yonezawa beef so special.
The farmers need to be local people, meaning the cows are from local and grown here.
Ok so local cows.
That's right.
Also this is quite important. It has to be the female cow.
She needs to be a virgin actually. It say here…
The male cow gets too big, and the female cows taste finer.
Really? So only female cows that haven't given birth?
That's right yeah.
This is the 300 gram steak.
This is the 200 gram steak. Medium rare.
This is the rump steak.
Oh my god.
300 grams of awesome.
So Chris, I'm Japanese and grew up here.
However, I must say I've never seen Yonezawa beef at 300 grams. So what do you say?
It's the meal of Kings.
Look at that. That's mental. It looks and smells amazing.
Such a good smell.
First of all, just one piece.
You see that.
Yeah I see that very well.
It's so tender! So tender! So soft!
Very very good. Very very very god.
Just cutting through it you can feel the texture can't you.
Look at this. Look at this marble.
Look at the texture. It's phenomenal isn't it.
Did you get it rare or medium?
I got medium rare. For those of you who like well done, don't ever do it in Japan.
Yeah it ruins the flavour of the steak.
Let's just try it.
The tears of joy.
You know what I'm doing now?
Almost crying.
No. I'm climbing the stairway to heaven.
Not quite yet, as I've still got some left.
The juice is coming out of the meat and spreading in his mouth.
If he could describe it in one word, in English, what would that word be?
How was it?
That was the best female cow I've ever eaten.
Female cow.
Perhaps the best cow in general that I've ever eaten. That was amazing.
No matter how many faces I pull, or expressions I make or things I say, I can't really describe how good that was.
Last year I ate Kobe beef, which is the most famous. But I couldn't finish it. I didn't really enjoy it.
It was too rich, there was too much fat and it was too rich.
This was perfect. Amazing, from start to finish.
Come here again in Yonezawa.
-Okay? -Okay!
Thank you Satou san. Thanks for everything.
If you're in Japan and have the chance, staying at a Japanese inn and relaxing in an onsen,
should be at the absolute top of your to do list.
Japanese ryokans can be found throughout Japan, but if you're interested in staying at the kajikaso ryokan in Yonezawa,
ranked as one of the best ryokans in north Japan, you can find all the details below.
And if you're looking to try some of the finest beef in Japan, whilst the Kongoukaku restaurant we visited is also in Yonezawa,
fortunately they also have a branch at Tokyo station.
The details of which you can find in the description box below.
I can't recommend it enough to anyone looking to try what might be the best steak you'll ever have.
As for me, I'm going to sit in this chair and pretend to be cool,
even though I've obviously set up the camera for this closing scene.
Many thanks for watching guys, I'll see you next time.
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Staying at a Traditional Japanese Inn & Hot Spring | Ryokan

30 Folder Collection
Erina Hagi published on November 8, 2019
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