Dan Carter on Life in Kobe, Japan

Dan Carter on Life in Kobe, Japan

Dan Carter on Life in Kobe, Japan

The rugby MVP and former expat shares his impressions of the culinary capital.    

The rugby MVP and former expat shares his impressions of the culinary capital.    


With virtually all sporting events sidelined, famed rugby player Dan Carter’s tenure with the Kobe Steelers ended prematurely this spring. But before returning to his native New Zealand in March, the All Blacks alum made plenty of contact with the Japanese city—one known not only for its burgeoning rugby team, but also its culinary prowess and outdoorsy terrain.

Here, Carter recalls his favorite things about living in Kobe, and shares what life is like now back home in Auckland. 

DAN CARTER Kobe has plenty of traditional Japanese restaurants, but I still went for eggs, pancakes, and a good coffee [for breakfast]. You’ll find an American-style breakfast at Eggs ’n Things in the Harborland district. For something more authentic, you of course need to try Kobe beef. Aragawa, a third-generation, Michelin-starred restaurant, and Kobe Grill, located on the Sheraton Hotel’s 52nd floor, have some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

For a scenic workout, I’d go out to Awaji Island. The coastline is great for beach runs, or for pulling up a mat for some oceanside yoga or even meditation. Just over the hill is Arima, which has some of Japan’s best onsens, or natural hot springs. These are a great way to relax and recover from everyday stresses.

Walking the streets of the Sannomiya district, you will find all the top international [brands]. I’d go there to check out Louis Vuitton’s latest collections or Rimowa’s suitcase collaborations, or to browse the amazing local labels at lesser-known shops. Afterwards I’d go to Izumi, a small sushi spot nearby. I’ve taken some Japanese cooking lessons, and the bar there was a good place to compare notes.

I left [Kobe] in early March, as it was starting to get serious enough for the JRU to be postponing games. Even then, no one knew [the virus] was going to affect the world as badly as it has. I am in Auckland now, where businesses are back up and running again and schools are open again but we still have measures in place to try stop a second wave of COVID-19.

We are a small country, down the bottom of the earth. COVID-19 was not here until about a month after Japan, so we had time to see what kind of responses worked. We understood the damages it could have done to our country, had it gotten out of control. So as a country we all took it very seriously and listened to our PM.

At home, [my kids and I] have been playing all sports: cricket, soccer, hockey. And we are lucky enough to have a swimming pool. I have never been on so many walks with my kids and dogs!

Dan Carter, as told to Samuel Anderson


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