Tag Archives: United States

Red Meat: The Bond of the Typical American Family

Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats follows unemployed documentarian Jane Takagi-Little on her experience working as a producer for a Japanese TV show called My American Wife, which is sponsored by a Texas-based meat industry lobby organization called Beef-Ex. To continue the pattern of westernization in Japan, My American Wife features American wives demonstrating the steps to simple American recipes that contain red meat and can be performed at home for a family dinner. At the typical American family dinner table, red meat represents the main dish that unites each family member to bond with each other by sharing the dish. In order to establish a bond for the Japanese family during dinnertime, Jane Takagi-Little emphasizes the modern American tradition of serving red meat at the dinner table.

As the main purpose of the TV Show, red meat, instead of the American housewife, is the star of My American Wife. Sponsored by Beef-Ex, My American Wife wants Japanese housewives to “feel the hearty sense of warmth, of comfort, of hearth and home – the traditional family values symbolized by red meat in rural America” (Ozeki 8). Normally, the typical Japanese family indulges in light-tasting dishes, such as seafood, rice, soup, and vegetables. Although these dishes are light in flavor, the Japanese consider this cuisine as a commonplace in their culture. However, red meat, an “attractive, appealing, all-American dish,” gives the Japanese a sense of both westernization and modernization with the appeal of the American culture. As Japan becomes more of a Western-cultured civilization with the increase of American fast food places and red meat at the markets, it is reasonable for home-cooked meals to include the use of red meat as a main dish.

In order for the audience to gain interest in American red meat cuisine, Ruth Ozeki’s word choice to describe the purpose of the show creates a warm and persuasive tone. For example, the passage emphasizes how red meat brings the “hearty” sense of “warmth,” “comfort,” “hearth,” and “home.” (Ozeki 8) Instead of having the normal Japanese dinner, the Japanese should try something that would provides tons of flavor while producing the pleasant feeling of comfort while consuming the dish made of red meat. Ozeki wants to appeal to the Japanese housewives so their family members can intensify the feeling of comfort at home while enjoying their meal as a family. By intensifying this comfortable feeling, this allows family members to endure in bonding with sharing the amiability of their main dish of hearty red meat.

By emphasizing the value of bonding as a family as well as the use of red meat at the dinner table, the American tradition of the culinary concoction of red meat allows the Japanese housewife and her family to experience the ways at the dinner table of the modern American family.  As a rising country in the westernization of cuisine, utilizing red meat in home-cooked meals allows the typical Japanese family to meet the modern expectations of the modern westernized Japanese culture.

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Meat as a tool to legitimize a story

My Year Of Meats follows the path of a documentary storytelling by following the exploits of two main protagonists in this story (Takagi & Akiko). Following the lives of these two main protagonists gives the feel of an investigative documentary as they unnecessarily uncover the things that are occurring behind the scenes with the American meat industry. At the same time by following the personal lives of these women we are either dealing or are witness to an assortment of different cultural, economic, and social problems that both the United States and Japan face. the medium that we see this throught is the production effort of different people involved in the filming of My American Wife.

First we are witnesses to the personal life of housewife Akiko and her husband ‘John.’ Slowly by following along the health problems that Akiko has we are able to uncover one of the consequences that American meat(beef) can have on the reproductive health of a woman. We see the resurgence of her periods and normal body weight when she starts to eat the Australian raised lamb instead of the American meat. (Ozeki, 143). The same can be said about Akiko and her difficulties with both her prior attempts at becoming pregnant, and her pregnancy to her musician lover, Sloan.(Ozeki, 173).  The use of antibiotics also makes an appearance with the people that are involved in the making of an episode of  My American Wife as one of the camera crew members suffers an allergic reaction to the American raised meat being used in the shoot.

From these complications we are presented with the reality of what are the consequence of using both antibiotics and hormones in the raising of feedlot cattle become apparent.

The lesbian couple being filmed, Dyann and Lara, go in depth why they have chosen to become vegetarians as they go on to explain the evils that feedlot cattle can cause both to the animals and the people that consume them.(Ozeki, 174-176). By not directly addressing the actual wrongs with the meat through the first half of the book, what Ozeki is doing is giving a back story to the actual problem. That is to say her main argument is being covered by these series of smaller stories and characters that are not connected directly.

We as the reader are taken through this voyage as we are presented with a different set of characters who are connected by My American Wife and each gives a little bit of the overall picture of how wrong is the meat in the United States. Technically this would be a critique on the meat industry. At the same time the book deals with issues of class, sexual and physical abuse, racism and stereotypes that afflict the Asian-American community. If this story were a film, it would be a combination of an investigative documentary that is a critique on the meat industry while at the same time it would take a look at several of the issues that were listed prior in this piece.  Meat is the food that becomes the medium through we are able to explore these issues in My Year of Meats. The reason for this it glues all of the stories together as BEEF-EX is the one bankrolling My American Wife. Without them there is no story. They give the story a plot that one can believe to be possible. Thus legitimizing the rest of the other stories.

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.

Kobe Beef, Meat That “Milt-In-Mouth”

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Tajima Cattle

People may have heard the term “Kobe Beef” over and over times, and some may even have tasted it already, but what is “Kobe Beef”? “Kobe Beef” is the beef cut from cattles that are primarily raised in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The “Kobe Beef” as known in today are mainly refers to beef that is cut from Tajima cattle, a breed of black Japanese cattle.

There are many stories regard to the discovery of “Kobe Beef”, but this one is fairly reasonable. In late Tokugawa Shogunate, killing cattle was once prohibited in Japan as an order directly from the Emperor. Along with the prohibition and addition to eat beef was not a cultural thing for Japanese people, “Kobe Beef” was not renowned by Japanese people. As the decadence of Tokugawa Shogunate in late 19 century, many foreign merchants entered Japan, and as their culture that beef is one of their main diet, they squeezed under the law and discovered the taste of “Kobe Beef” was terrific. After that, the beef with its trademark “Kobe” becomes distinguished from other beef brands and renowned to the world.

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“Kobe Beef” barbeque
(caption from koubegyu.net)

In United States, it’s not hard to find a restaurant that has “Kobe Beef” in their menu. However, according to USDA, between 2010 and 2012, “Kobe Beef” was banned from import to United States due to concern of certain diseases that may in the meat. If the restaurants input names in menus as Wagyu, it’s definitely fine because the U.S. has imported and domestically raised Wagyu for years. Wagyu, by its word to word definition, it means Japanese cattle. And importantly, there is no equal sign between Wagyu and “Kobe Beef”. “Kobe Beef”, by its significances, follows several strict rules, such as the beef must be processed in slaughterhouses that in designated locations in Japan and the meat quality must score above 4 and etcetera. The trademark is authorized only to the beef that fulfills all required conditions. Thus, there can’t be any authentic “Kobe Beef” used in restaurants in restricted time period in United States.

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A5 class “Kobe Beef” sirloin steak
(caption from koubegyu.net)

Unlike other beef, “Kobe Beef” has a low melting point, and this leads to whoever has tasted it describes it as “melt-in-mouth”. The farming techniques that use to raise Tajima cattle somehow is a myth; mostly spread is that the farmers feed the cattle with beer and give them massage by human hand. And the selection of cattle that are going to send to the slaughterhouse must be virgin cattle, the reason behind this is to avoid milk stink in beef. Despites of myths around farming strategies, most of people agree the beef does “milt-in-mouth” if it’s cooked properly and does taste way better than other beefs. The demand for “Kobe Beef” is growing, however, the supply from Japan can’t equilibrate with the global demand. Because of shortage in supply, the price of the beef has increased extremely high; according to a domestic Japanese online market, a 200g (about 7oz.) sirloin “Kobe Beef” costs 7,350 yen with tax (about 73 dollars). “Kobe Beef” is certainly becomes superior, upscale and must-try meat for meat lovers.

Symbolization of Momotaro

YoungEun Kim

Mcknight, A.

Japanese 70 – Dis 1C

28 November 2013

Symbolization of Momotaro

In the Japanese fairy story, Momotaro, the main character was born from a peach and the old women bring to her house. When she and her husband try to eat a peach, suddenly a boy comes out of peach. They believe this boy as a heaven sent gift, so they name a newborn boy, “Momo” from the peach and “Taro” from the elder son. In Japanese culture, the peach represents fecundity because it looks like women’s hip. A few years later, Momotaro sets out on a trip to get rid of a plunderer in the island. During his journey, he makes his colleagues who are a dog, a monkey and a bird. Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is an animation version of Mitsuyo Seo and describes the Pacific War when Japan attacked Hawaii on 1941. When children watch this animation, they are going to think that America is the enemy of the Japan. In this animation, Momotaro is a captain of his army and he has some subordinates who is a dog, pheasant and monkey to attack the demon island. They started to attack by air and finally induce the enemy’s surrender. During the war in the animation and book, the millet dumplings are important role to Momotaro and his camaraderie. In the book, the author states that “Attempted to continue in in animation after war, but with Japanese animation, along with other aspects of Japanese cinema, being dependent upon war and its money, peace drove hhim and many others like Massaokka out of the Business” and “ Seo was saddled with the ideologically suspect but technically masterful Momotaro films as his primary legacy (P.228) Animation version and children’s story version are pretty similar to finish with a happy ending. Both of them describe Japanese “liberation of Asia”, as proclaimed by the government at the time. Furthermore, they try to give dreams, hope and peace to children with these stories beyond the appearance of war propaganda. The devastated Japan was on the verge of an unthinkable defeat, the film depicts Peach Boy who is a heroic figure from Japanese folklore. Momotaro has recruited some cute animal friends into his ever so friendly and noble crusade to “liberate” southern islands in the Pacific and South East Asia region. In this animation, everybody can know the Momotaro’s army represent a Japanese army as a good and the other side represent the United States army as a bad. At the end of traditional fairy tale and animation Momotaro defeat the demon island and return home with wonderful treasures.

This animation depicts the significance of the millet dumplings. The millet dumplings are not only foodstuffs during the war, but also fighting spirit to Momotaro’s forces. For instance, the monkey shows a bag of millet dumplings to his colleagues before departing and says this is a millet dumpling to improve fighting spirit. Furthermore, these dumplings do an important role during the war. Monkey eats the millet dumplings and it makes him encourage and gain strength. In the book, The Momotaro’s old woman prepared the millet dumplings before going to war. This part exactly shows how food is an important role in the society; his parents would think the most needed things are food during the war. That’s why the old woman cooked the millet dumplings and it assists Momotaro to make his subordinate who is a dog. The author describes about dumplings as “the best millet dumplings in Japan. I cannot give you a whole one; I will give you half-a-one” (P.25). After that, the dog accepted to go with a Momotaro. The millet dumplings make their camaraderie promote and important foodstuffs during their travel to war. Someone would say they just share the food, however Momotaro and dog can be closer and feel fellowship by sharing the millet dumplings

The story and animation describes a Momotaro as a good leader to recover the defeat from the United States. The character, Momotaro, indicates a lot of importance for that period. The author describes, “While Momotaro became a central figure in Japanse moral education, and he was also frequently used during WWII to represent nationalist military values (P.228). The Momotaro’s enemies are actually the classic American cartoon characters; they are characterized as a devil and a bitter satire on the United States. . The interesting part is the Americans are described in human and the Japanese are depicted in animal form. Even if the American is in a human, he has a demon horns on his head. He drinks a lot of bottles of beer, behavior badly and totally different from Momotaro. On the other hand, Momotaro is an esteemed leader and describes as a strong, upright, faithfully in the army and tries to do his best for the justice. Momotaro was commandeered by propagandists as a legendary patriotic hero in this animation.

In Talkie manga which we watched in class, it has also similarities to Momotaro story. The Disney characters come on the scene, they start to plunder and behavior badly like an American soldier in Demon Island in the Momotaro’s Sea Eagle. Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors is dreamlike, haunting and strangely sinister, but despite its intentions it is in fact, the father or mother of all Japanese animation. Those stories, mangas and animations are emphasized on the good and devil, in other words, Japan and America. Even though the background of this story is like a darkness war, by finishing with a happy ending, those really trying to symbolize the positive thinking, hope for peace, and Japanese greatness.

Between Momotaro’s Sea Eagle and the Japanese fairy story has a pretty similar theme, however there are differences. Both of them are about defeating the enemy, however, the book is a more likely heroic tale and gives an important lesson from the characters. For example, the book is focused on Momotaro’s personal things. He went out to defeat the enemies, make some subordinate and come back to his house with a happy ending. Furthermore, Momotaro lives happily with the old woman and old man at the end. In the book, it is based on children who need to learn an important lesson. On the other hand, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is more tend to be a documentary theme. For instance, the animation is emphasized on the war between Japan and the United States in 1941. The animation doesn’t describe the Momotaro’s birth and fellowship as the book. When the book comes to give a moral to children, the animation more focused on describing the confidence, Japanese greatness and the relationship between Japan and America. Therefore, the book is more likely children to read, but animation is based on the Japanese traditional fairy tale, so it is a good not only children, but also adults.

The animation and book is actually different genre, so those have a different narrative form. The traditional fairy tale’s narrators have traces of orality, use of iterative tense and impersonate animals. For example, the book starts, “Very, very long a go”, it is the example of using iterative tense in folkloric. So, the traditional fairy tale tends to use a form of once upon a time tense, and repeated when something need to be emphasized. On the other hand, the animation doesn’t use this kind of method to develop a story

In the story of Momotaro, the food is a significant theme; it unifies the Momotaro and his camaraderie’s fellowship, teamwork and heroism. The millet dumplings are not only foodstuffs during the war, but also fighting spirit to Momotaro’s forces. Furthermore, Momotaro gives a half of the millet dumplings to the dog, and dog accepted to be camaraderie of Momotaro. Food can be a trivial thing; however it is the most important thing people live. Some people would say the main theme of this novel is about the good triumphing over the evil. However, the food symbolizes the fellowship, the method of fighting spirit in the Momotaro. Moreover, Momotaro is described as a legendary patriotic hero in the book and animation, they teach the patrioticism and Japanese greatness to Japanese children and adult.

Momotaro: A Tale of Companionship

In Japanese film and literature, food often plays a major role in the overall progression of plot and themes. Food’s many roles include unifying people, celebrating hard work, and comforting individuals. One of the most influential works that embodies this Japanese tradition is the story of Momotaro. This folktale does not have an original source and dates back to the Edo period in Japan. There are many different version of the story as well; however, the trait they will always share in common is the connection to food. Food in Momotaro acts as the unifying symbol for companionship and also as a material object that forms bonds between people. Whether in literature or film form, the theme remains that food can become the connection between all people and allow them to draw together.

Momotaro has many variations in details since it is an open source story. Older versions of the story had erotic and inappropriate elements. Many elements in different versions were subtly altered. Despite these dissimilarities, Momotaro’s theme of food forming a community is powerfully depicted in each variation. In Iwaya Sazanami’s definitive version of Momotaro, companionship clearly forms from the sharing of food. In the very beginning of the text, an old woman finds a giant peach and returns home to share it with her husband. They rejoice and celebrate the wonderful food that is before them. Thus, the very opening of Momotaro already implies how powerful food can be when unifying people. Momotaro himself springs forth from the peach. In a sense, he is the embodiment of unity between people due to food.

Later in the story, Momotaro sets off on his journey after receiving millet dumplings from his father, the old man. As he travels, he meets the dog, monkey, and pheasant on the way. These animals offer their loyalty and camaraderie to Momotaro and in return, receive half of a millet dumpling. The act of using food to form bonds in these sequences is very clear. Despite being completely different, a human, a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant are able to band together because of a simple common food. Symbolically, the dumplings represent the friendship of all these diverse creatures. On a physical level, the dumplings are a medium that allows them all to work together. It is Momotaro’s way of persuading and paying each animal that joins his cause.  The instant the animal accepts Momotaro’s offering, a pact of loyalty and friendship forms between the two parties. Thus, these events in the story signify the role of food in building communities.

Momotaro’s themes can even be connected the real world as well. The story reveals for us that food can be a symbol of unity for the Japanese people. As stated before, the millet dumplings in Momotaro manage to bring together a human and several different kinds of animals on a single voyage. In reality, the idea of communicating with and befriending animals is unlikely, but this idea stresses how powerful food is as a unifier. This ultimately suggests that the Japanese people should be able to assemble regardless of appearance, origin, or any other trivial difference.

The theme of unity through eating returns once again in the film adaptation of Momotaro in 1943. Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is a film made in 1942 and released in 1943 as war propaganda. Despite being almost completely different from the original story, the film retains the central theme of food from beginning to end. In the film, we see the appearance of millet dumplings again, but as war rations. The dogs and monkeys eat the dumplings before heading out to battle. Again, the dumplings become a symbol of companionship between the various animals under Momotaro’s command. The dumplings seem to associate with nationalistic pride that helps with the raid against their enemy which is successful in the end. On a material level, the dumplings are just rations for the soldiers. However, this also means that the dumplings are extremely important for Momotaro’s company. Soldiers need nourishment in order to fight well and keep their willpower high. Without food, soldiers can starve and even abandon their duties; thus, food causes a sense of unity even on a material level.

As mentioned before, the Momotaro’s Sea Eagle’s purpose is to act as propaganda for the Japanese people. The film is based off the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, but the film was released in 1943. This time gap was because Japan was experiencing major losses in 1943 and needed more support from its people. Momotaro’s Sea Eagle managed to do its job. Like the original story, the themes of the film can be connected to the real world. By connecting the bombing of Pearl Harbor to Momotaro, the audience that watches the film is reminded of the companionship in the original folktale. It reminds Japanese people of how powerful they can be when united together and pitted against a common enemy.

Interestingly enough, the film still does its job without knowledge of the original Momotaro tale. The use of cute animals representing the Japanese military displaying great unity and power is enough to make a young Japanese child swell with pride. The children who watch the film will instantly side with Momotaro and want to win against the Americans depicted as drunken idiots.

With knowledge of the original folktale, the film will have many deeper meanings to reveal. One interesting point is that both text and film depict Momotaro on a voyage to cleanse the land of evil. In the text, the heroic Momotaro goes to battle the ogres who are constantly stealing and causing trouble. This point would imply that the Americans in the film are also completely evil while the Japanese are good and pure. Another interesting point is that Momotaro himself is shown very differently in both works. In the text, Momotaro is a leader who marches into battle alongside his comrades. This means that the animals and Momotaro all face the same battle and struggle and form a close bond through that. However, in Momotaro’s Sea Eagle, Momotaro is a very detached leader. We only catch a glimpse of him in the very beginning before the battle and in the end after the battle’s success. His commanding from a distance seems to correspond directly to military protocol instead of the original tale. He is giving the animals commands rather than fighting by their side, and this establishes a sense of a military community and discipline. Momotaro is the absolute leader in both versions, but the type of community that he forms is very different in each.

When comparing the film to the written story, they both seem like completely different works with unrelated stories. On the contrary, they both resonate with the same themes of companionship and national unity. Though these themes may be portrayed in different manners, the different styles give us insight as to how food can be used in different ways as a symbol for community. The written version of Momotaro utilizes millet dumplings as offerings in exchange for loyalty while the war film uses them as rations that keep the group together. These different usages cause different kinds of communities to be formed but ultimately cause people to unify no matter how diverse. This theme reaches out to the real world and establishes that food is a powerful joining force for Japanese people.

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.