Saw this one resurface after a while, and saw, uh, my name come up.
If memory serves me correctly, kobe beef has a lot of those origin and treatment regulations that are sort of ridiculous and probably don't make a whole lot of difference to the flavor (for example, the meat needs to be from a castrated bull for "purity", it needs to be processed in certain specific locations, etc). There are some others, like marbling percentage restrictions, that do make a difference. But that's still pretty much only so they can actually have to Kobe trademark applied.
I *think*, but I'm not sure, there's an actual trademark for "American Style Kobe Beef" - I know that there's a beef marketed as such, and that's often what's (misleadingly) sold as "Kobe Beef" in the US.
Meanwhile, even in Japan they eat a lot of wagyu beef imported from elsewhere, usually Australia. Kobe just doesn't produce enough of the stuff to meet the demand of Japan, much less the US and Europe too. "Kobe-style" - the well-marbled wagyu - is pretty freaking good, and while maybe not *quite* as good as Real Kobe, it'll also not cost you $150 for a steak. Many places, including Metcalfe's Sentry now, are selling kobe-style for an expensive but not terribly unreasonable price.
Actually preparing it though is another matter. Takes some skill, becasue it goes from "sublimely rich" to "shoe leather" in the blink of an eye. Once that marbling renders, man...