What makes Kobe Beef famous

Kobe Beef is one of the most prestigious foods nowadays all over the world. The

status of Kobe Beef has even been promoted to a level that it becomes the icon of

Japanese food and foodies.

From Wikipedia, it is said that the origin of Kobe Beef is associated with the

import of cattle to Japan. Japan’s topography is unique, with mountainous region

providing the conditions that can “yield herds that developed and maintained qualities

in their meat that differ significantly from other breeds of cattle”. Japanese people

deeply believed in the idea that meat is dirty, and obeyed the taboo banning meat

eating at that time. Cwiertka states that Western people felt the urge to import meat

from outside Japan in order to feed themselves in the essay about “modernity of food

eating in Japan”. The import caused the interbred between the cattle in Japan and

many other kinds of cattle from outside the world. And one kind of such cattle was

recognized as “Kobe Beef” because it is from Kobe.

The interbred not only happened in Kobe. It is a nationwide phenomenon. Not

only Kobe Beef, the general quality of beef in Japan is very well-known all over

the world. There are other regions in Japan such as Matsusaka, Miyazaki, and Iwate

which are also proud of their native beef. However, it is interesting to notice that

Kobe Beef enjoys significantly more prestigious reputation than beefs from other

areas. As a matter of fact, the actual meaning of the word Kobe Beef has gone through

some changes. And it is the essential reason for Kobe Beef’s prestige.

From Wikipedia, we know that in 1983, “The Kobe Beef Marketing and

Distribution Promotion” was formed. Its website lists all the strict procedures from

breeding to slaughtering to shipping of Kobe Beef. As for the cattle itself, it should

also fulfill many requirements to be certified as a “Kobe Beef”. It actually means

that Kobe Beef is no longer specifically restricted in the area of Kobe or Kansai. It

has become a general concept, or a criterion for beef of high quality. Compared to

other areas in Japan, Kansai area where Kobe is located is more economically well-
developed, so the organization has more sufficient resource for the promotion. On the

other hand, by making details, the image of “Kobe Beef” is clearly established. The

certification is not only for Kobe area, which encourages people in other regions to

participate in joining the “Kobe Beef” family. It is one of the most important factor to

make Kobe Beef popular.

For foreigners, Kobe beef is the icon showing the delicacy and prestige of

Japanese food. There are some myths that Kobe Beef enjoys massage and music when

being fed. On the website of The Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion,

“much love, labor and care” are emphasized. All those information creates the sense

of exoticism to foreigners. Its astonishingly high price also marks its value.

In sum, Kobe Beef has gone through some changes in the history. With the effort

of promotion from domestic organization and the qualities that attracts foreigners, its

becoming of Japanese icon is not surprising.


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