Tag Archives: Beef

My year of meat (Extra Credit)



Soyoung Son
Japanese 70

         Jane Takagi-Little is a Japanese American journalist and she works for a Japanese production company. She produces the program of called “My American Wife.”, this is about meat (beef), they show how to cook beef, what the best meat is, and show her life as American wife, how she cook meat every week. There are story of Jane, Suzie and Akiko. Jane’s story is the life of Akiko Ueno, she is manga artist and married with a man who work for BEEF-EX.

         This book’s story is about meat, actually culture of meat is not for Asian food, it came from Western and now it is popular and had been settled as our meal. Almost every one love meat and always find it at table and also rate of sold a meat has been growing rapidly. In My American Wife program show how to cook meat in the best way, and where we can find the best meat. They try to find the place where they can find the best meat, but they found the company which made a meat in stranger way rather than the best meat. There are actually lots of menu that they will cook but end up, they decided to cook a beef, because this American broadcast company have supporter Japanese company as well and this American company make a program for showing Japanese wife the best way to cook beef and that is actual purpose to sell a meat. The company which sold a meat have a huge farm, they want to raise a cow with very easy way, they shot inject of Hormone and other variety prevent inject to cow when cows are born, and also during they are growing, the company give them food mixed some drugs and give some shot as injection. It probably looks that cows are very healthy and they are growing up in very well circumstance, but it is not like that, it is very mess. The company even haven’t cleaned cow’s excreta, the farm is too small cow to grow, People who work there looks very bored to work as machine.  And if kids eat this meat, then they have problem of growing well. I think, most people have ambition and it brings these terrible result, they just need to sell it and earn money with any reason and ways. Ruth Ozeki wants to tell veil of food story, and we have to know there is lots of problem in food. Asian food culture is actually not meat long time ago but now it is popular and every Asian know it as healthy food, but there are lots of junk food also made with meat, such as Hamburger, sausage  and spam, we might know it is very unhealthy food, but we can’t stop eating those food. That means meat has already settled in our life. So we probably want to find a way to eat healthy and great meat as well and even if we eat junk food, we should try to eat less.


















The significance of Kobe Beef

YoungEun Kim

Mcknight, A.

Japanese 70 – Dis 1C

18 December 2013

Extra Credit

The Kobe Beef is an extremely tender and full-flavored, it is a high quality of beef from cattle raised in Kobe in Japan. The history of Kobe beef begins with the importation of wagyu cattle into the isolated Kobe region before 1868. It is also called as Wagyu beef which means Japanese, orJapanese-style cattle. In the United States, there is Choice or Prime for beef, Kobe beef is usually two grades higher than them. The Japanese feed grains, beer and the cow gets a massage regularly to make cow’s meat become tenderer. untitled                                                        “Japanese feed a beer to cow for Kobe beef”

Even though it has more fat than other meats, the content of cholesterol is lesser than others. In Japan, the highest grade one is around 300hundreds dollars in 200g. Some people is going to say it is too expensive to eat, but the gourmet people will love to eat. In the U.S., Kobe beef producing cattle ave been crossbred with American cattle, and Kobe beef produced in the U.S. is generally less expensive than in Japan. Kobe beef sells for over $100 a pound in Japan. Most believe that although the Kobe beef in America is good, genuine Kobe beef can still only be found in Japan. The reason why Kobe beef is expensive and popular is that it is rare, and producing it is an expensive, time consuming process.

There are three main factors that make Kobe beef so tender and succulent. The Wagyu breed of cattle, the regular massaging of the cow to blend the fat into the muscle, and the diet of beer given to the cow to stimulate appetite. If you ever get a chance to look at a cut of Kobe beef before it is cooked, you will notice that fat is interspersed in the meat in tiny pockets. How they are able to do this is still very weird to me, but it makes the steak taste so good and better. The most important thing in Kobe beef is providing health benefits to people. It has not only low calories, but also good protein, value of iron, low fat and low sodium. Since the fat has a bad reputation, consumers prefer to find a Kobe beef than other meets. According to research results from Pennsylvania State University, “the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers concluded that eating monounsaturated fatty acids are better for your heart than eating special diets with lean products. The research also shows that Wagyu meat can actually help to reduce cholesterol levels. Wagyu beef is visually striking because of its wonderful marbling” (Pennsylvania State University). The Kobe beef is the best teak to not only gourmet people, but also the people. I would like to have a meal with delicious even though it is expensive, and I really look forward to eating the Kobe beef one day.

Meat and Power

Ruth Ozeki’s “My Years of Meat” is set in a historical context before the rapid westernization, which is the time period when rice, fish and vegetables are still the main dining ingredients of a typical Japanese household. Through the portrayal of the public’s and individual’s reaction to the introduction of Western lifestyle, Ruth Ozeki explores the power relation between nation and genders, in which consumption of meat serves as the vehicle of dramatizing such power difference.

First, the consumption of meat becomes the emblem of Japanese people’s ideal of the West, which is satirized through the comical depiction of BEEF-EX’s corrupt advertising method that manipulates the public’s perception towards their beef products, “or selling off the vast illusion of America to a cramped population on that small string of Pacific islands”. The company attempts to attribute the “contemporary wholesome values” to meat by creating a warm image of an American family in order to demonstrate how the nourishment of meat contributes to the health and happiness of a family. The author criticizes the company’s unethical manipulation of such cultural perception and their inauthentic presentation of American family by satirizing the director’s fastidious manner and the artificiality of “American wife”. For example, during the cooking scene, in order to make the process more “interesting” the director decided to take different shots of the same step repeatedly. Consequently, the process becomes rather comical as “they had to go out to the grocery store and buy a dozen economy-size bottles of Pepsi” and “Suzie had to wash off the raw meat in the sink and pat it dry with paper towels and make it look new again”. Also, even Suzie becomes aware of her role as a “social actor” and starts responding to the needs of media by arranging the furniture and telling her kids to “act like they were enjoying their meat”. Because of her “acting”, the relationship between Fred and Suzie deteriorates as the show proceeds. Thus, the author makes fun of the Japanese media’s idealization and stereotyping of a Western lifestyle that symbolizes Japan’s appropriation of Western power, while commenting on the negative influence of such stereotypical perception of Western culture on an American household.

Furthermore, the habit of meat consumption is deployed as male’s enforcement of power in a Japanese household. Akiko’s value and position in her family are determined by her fertility and Jouichi’s affection for her. She is always bothered by her physical weakness and infertility, which contributes to her sense of insecurity as she always worries about Jouichi’s feeling. As Jouichi becomes obsessed with Western culture and starts to introduce the consumption of meat to Akiko, her position and power decline even more because the gap between her traditional trait and her husband’s ideal of white female sexuality broadens. Jouichi admires the “hybrid vigor” in Jane and loves “big-breasted American woman”, which stands for the quality of health and fertility in Western beauty that opposes the physical characteristics of Akiko. Jouichi’s enforcement of his power even elevates to the level of mental and sexual abuse as Akiko suffers from eating beef and having sex with him with a more “abrasive” condom. As Jouichi adopts the habit of meat consumption and becomes more sexually active, Akiko loses her power and dignity due to her failure to adapt to the Western lifestyle and the image of white female sexuality.

In conclusion, “My Years of Meat” portrays Japan’s idealistic and stereotypical conception of Western culture as a product of the corrupt marketing device of meat industry, which reflects the negative influence of Japan’s appropriation of Western power. Moreover, the introduction of meat consumption increases the sexual desire of man and causes them to idealize woman in a stereotypical image of a white female, further increasing the power difference between male and female in both Western and Japanese households.

The Truth About Kobe Beef

Image by Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (www.kobe-niku.jp)

Image by Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (www.kobe-niku.jp)

Cattle are not native to the island of Japan and no one knows exactly when they arrived, but historical records like the Zoku Nihonki and Kokugyu Juzu first indicate their presence during the Kofun Jidai (Tatsumi). According to the Nihon Shoki, Buddhism was also introduced and slowly matriculated Japanese society during this same period (1213, par. 2). Buddhist doctrine strictly prohibited the eating of meat and cattle were strictly used for spiritual rituals and manual labor (Wagyu). Furthermore, the emperors of Japan issued a series of decrees banning meat consumption entirely (Wagyu). Consequently, aside from “so”, a dairy product eaten by aristocrats between the 8th and 10th centuries, beef products were absent from the Japanese diet until the mid-19th century when all laws prohibiting the consumption of beef were lifted (Wagyu).

As beef began to gain in popularity, clearly distinct Japanese beef dishes began to evolve and there was a sudden spike in beef consumption for the first time. As a result, during the Meiji era foreign breeds of cattle were imported and interbreed with “native” cattle to increase their overall quality and yield (Wagyu). Subsequently, four unique hybridized breeds of cow emerged – the Japanese Brown found in Kumamoto and Oichi prefectures, the Japanese Polled found in Yamaguchi prefecture, the Japanese Shorthorn found in cool northern prefectures like Tohoku and Hokkaido and lastly the Japanese Black which is found throughout Japan (Wagyu).

Image by Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (www.kobe-niku.jp)

Image by Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (www.kobe-niku.jp)

Unlike most countries that prefer a lean cut of beef, the Japanese prefer theirs to be fattier with a characteristic “shimofuri” webbed marbling effect. Of the four types of Japanese cattle, the Japanese Black has been noted for its ability to retain a fattier content and is typically selected for beef production. In order for this marbling affect to occur, Japanese farmers prohibit their cattle from pasture grazing and partaking in regular exercise that would promote muscle development (Wagyu). They are raised in small byres from birth until they reach approximately 32 months old and fed high quality diets ensuring a succulent and tender meat (Kobe). Since the Japanese beef industry cannot compete with foreign beef markets, Japanese farmers are dedicated to rearing the highest quality beef possible (Wagyu). Through this quality initiative, Japanese beef has gained in popularity and the “Kobe Beef” phenomena thus began.

From the early Meiji era onwards, “gyunabe” and other meat dishes began to appear on the dining tables of Japanese families. Yet, until the late 1970’s, the clear distinction between “Kobe beef” and common supermarket grade meat was not clearly defined (Kobe). There was no way to prove if the meat you purchased as “Kobe beef” was actually real, authentic “Kobe beef”. This was the driving force behind producers, meat distributors and consumers joining forces to establish the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association in 1983 (Kobe).

Kobe Beef Stamp

Image by Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (www.kobe-niku.jp)

Through this initiative a strict serialized breeding system was implemented and tending sites were designated within Hyogo prefecture (Kobe). Furthermore, a severe twelve point meat marbling standard was established to grade the “shimofuri” consistency (Kobe). Once the beef has been screened and processed, only the highest quality beef gets stamped by the trademarked chrysanthemum seal from the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association (Kobe).

The Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association states that their “Kobe Beef” is unique due to “…a harmony of delicate, dignified sweet lean meat and the taste and fragrance of melt-in-your-mouth fat. The “sashi” fatty content of the meat itself will actually begin to dissolve at low temperatures. This means that it will literally melt in your mouth. An abundant content of inosinic and oleic acids have also been scientifically proven to add to its outstanding flavor.”  (Kobe)

In the United States, wagyu is frequently misrepresented as “Kobe Beef”. Wagyu is raised in many regions of Japan, Australia and the United States. “Kobe Beef”, on the other hand, can only come from Hyogo Prefecture (Freemont). Currently the Freemont Beef Company is the only authorized importer of “Kobe Beef” to the United States (Freemont). As of October 2013, the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association has only exported 508 pounds of “Kobe Beef” to the Freemont Beef Company for American consumption (Kobe). With this staggeringly low amount being exported, it is highly unlikely that the average American consumer has ever eaten authentic “Kobe Beef” at their local neighborhood eating establishment.

With the inception of the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, many breeders of non tajimagyu breeds have begun to revolutionize their breeding methods to compete with the booming “Kobe Beef” market. Due to this domestic demand for even higher quality meats, the “All-Japan Wagyu Olympics” is held to identify the healthiest and most productive Japanese black stud bull bloodline (Wagyu). In October 2012, thirty eight prefectures competed in the 10th annual “All-Japan Wagyu Olympics” with the hidagyu breed from Miyazaki prefecture claiming best bull, thus, ousting “Kobe Beef” from their top honors.

10th Annual "All-Japan Wagyu Olympics" Image by NHK World Education Corporation

10th Annual “All-Japan Wagyu Olympics”
Image by NHK World Education Corporation

In closing, “Kobe Beef” has become synonymous with the Japanese beef industries perseverance for quality and flavor despite its recent loss at the “All-Japan Wagyu Olympics”. This is in part due to its popularity amongst foreign countries and commercialization through western media outlets. Unfortunately, it has also become a title frequently used by western free enterprise to loosely identify any wagyu breed slaughtered for commercial sale. As most consumers are inexperienced with the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association’s severe grading criteria, they will continue to be duped by the American restaurant industry into paying enormous amounts of money for an inferior mislabeled product.

Listful Women

“My Year of Meats” by Ruth Ozeki follows three women—Jane, Akiko, and Suzie— through the production of My American Wife, a television documentary series. The show is sponsored by BEEF-EX and is designed to interest Japanese housewives in cooking with beef products. Jane is the strong-headed Japanese-American coordinator of the show, Akiko is the Japanese bulimic wife of the head producer, and Suzie is the American star of one of the episodes. Ozeki uses lists throughout the text to link the stories of these women and show the differences in their lifestyles.

2 kilograms American beef (rump roast)
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 package Lipton’s Powdered Onion Soup
1.5 liters Coca-Cola (not Pepsi, please!) (19)

This is Suzie Flowers’ list of ingredients for the Rump Roast she is to make on her episode of My American Wife. The measurements are big and simple, 1 can of this and 1 package of that. The ingredients are also big and simple. “Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup” is one ingredient that can actually be broken down much farther into a compilation of ingredients. However if Campbell’s does not make the soup then Suzie’s recipe is no longer simple. This list demonstrates Suzie’s limited interpretation of things. Suzie says that before she discovered her husband’s affair she was “asleep”(26). She took things at face value and did not attempt to find the deeper meaning or interpret them farther.

This list also becomes Akiko’s grocery list for Saturday night dinner as instructed by her husband. Inspired by Shonagon, the author of a book full of lists and notes, Akiko writes a list entitled Squalid Things: “Darkness in a place that does not give the impression of being very clean / A rather unattractive women who looks after a large brood of children” (41). This is in reference to Suzie Flowers, the Coca-Cola Lady. Akiko, used to her complicated and small life, is disgusted by and slightly envious of the gluttony and simplicity inherent in American lifestyles. Both women are making the same dinner to appease their husbands and feed their families, but Akiko views it as squalid whereas Suzie has never questioned her lifestyle.

While at a strip club with Akiko’s husband Jane composes a list of things that categorize him:

Things That Give a Hot Feeling
Things That Give a Pathetic Impression
Things Without Merit
Things That are Unpleasant to See (46)

Both Jane and Akiko subscribe to Shonagon and find solace in writing lists about things they observe and experience. Jane is unabashed in her list describing Akiko’s husband using strong unrelenting words and speaking her mind freely. Akiko’s list however has qualifiers such as “rather” (41) and “impression” (41) that demonstrate her lack of confidence. If either Akiko or Suzie had the confidence that Jane has perhaps they would be able to repair their marriages or at least progress out of their respective stagnant states. The lists associated with each woman in this narrative not only provides insight into their personalities but links them together despite their obvious differences.

Meat is the Message, is the Message you heard, it’s got Additives, it’s got Meaning

“Meat is the message.” A simple line, a play on Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message,” yet it embodies exactly what Ruth Ozeki’s message in My Year of Meats. Within this novel, meat is used as a metaphor in the context of a diary that represents the lives of the various characters introduced. As the meat is molded and tampered so is the life of the main character, Akiko, whose diary section, along with Jane’s, gives us a deeper understanding of Akiko’s character and her marriage.

The novel splits itself into two parts, one being a behind the scene showing of what’s going on and the other being the diary of Akiko. From the background it is seen that the meat that is put on the shows use glycerin in order to make it glisten (42), likewise the meat used for the Coca-Cola roast has actually been doused by Pepsi, which is, “Not the real thing at all…” (30) On the actual show the food looks amazing, but even Akiko has a sense of distrust as she notes that, “…it felt like they were hiding something.” (40) This ties into Akiko throwing up the beef that she eats every night, almost in mutiny of the change in lifestyle that her husband “John” has pushed onto her. (37-38) Jane’s diary also gives us a glimpse of “John” and his relation to Akiko. Jane make’s a list, in the style of Shonagan, of “John” in response to his behaviors noting that he is, “Hateful/Unsuitable/Depressing/Annoying/Presumptuous”. (44)

The story, although having sequences that could are “behind the scene,” is driven by the pseudo-diaries of Jane and Akiko. Taking these three parts into consideration, they make the layers of perception for the story. There is Akiko’s point of view, the view of the audience who witnesses the show about meat.  Then there is the “behind the scene” point of view that depicts what happens to the meat in preparation for the show. Finally there is Jane’s perspective that goes deeper behind the scenes and shows the character of “John” tying all three perspectives together. “John” is seen as hateful and unsuitable along with a myriad of other negative labels in Jane’s diary, symbolizing how “John” by trying to modernize himself has ultimately been perverted. Akiko’s diary shows us the effects of this culture clashing, and essentially her innate struggle to fight off such forces as seen by her throwing up. This creates a contrast between the two characters despite the fact that they are joined by marriage. In a sense the marriage between the two reflects the condition of the meat. On a surface level the marriage between Akiko and “John” works and looks good, but underneath all of the additives lays something unnatural, a something that Akiko innately tries to push out of her life. The diaries thus help to create a cohesive view between the characters and the background view of the show.