Since that time, Kobe has turned into the Mecca for beef lovers around the globe. There’s nothing quite like the beef that comes from Japan. This has spurred on recognition of several other key regions in Japan that produce Wagyu. Not all Wagyu is Kobe but all Kobe is Wagyu. You see, the word, Kobe, denotes a certain region and certification process. However, each various region has its own spin on raising delicious beef.
There are nine distinct regions of Japan that contain forty-seven prefectures between them. These nine have distinct features about them. The only region allowed to produce Kobe-certified beef is that of Hyōgo. Any beef that comes from the other regions of Japan is referred to as Wagyu.
This purebred Wagyu is from the Miyachiku co-op. It’s named after the breed known as “Japanese Black” or Kuroge Washu — used by Miyachiku — and is one of the four Wagyu breeds around. In 2007, the Miyazaki was dubbed the “Champion Cow” in the “Wagyu Olympics”. From there, its name became more famous, thus helping propel its fame. The cattle here are fed primarily a diet of wheat and corn for approximately 900 days.
A prefecture that’s very close to Tokyo and enjoys some varying degrees of elevation with extended sunlight. Its Joshu Wagyu employs some fattening technologies and feed that’s highly adapted to the surrounding environment. The waters of the Tone River support this region which is also renowned for its high-quality pork as well. It’s water from the Tone that’s said to be attributed to Joshu’s incredible aroma of fat.
You’ll find marbling that’s ideal for shabu-shabu. Joshu was also the first Wagyu from Japan to be exported to the European Union in 2014.
Just north of the Ou mountain range is where Japan’s most award-winning Wagyu are raised. This region is known as Iwate. It has earned more top-ratings from Japan’s Nation Grading Competition than any other region, winning a total of eleven times.
Iwate is also known as Japan’s most sustainable Wagyu. It has one of the lowest population densities in Japan and that leaves a lot of wide-open spaces, beautiful wilderness areas, and a stunning cliff-line above the ocean shores.
This region is known for how the cattle here spend their entire lives on the same farm. From birth to harvest. Ranchers in this area firmly believe that cows who haven’t moved around, make better beef.
Cattle are fed various vegetables and straw that comes from the many rice fields in Iwate, and their manure is used to help fertilize the soils that grow the rice. It’s a sustainable ecosystem that has been around for nearly 2,000 years.
The climate in this area is known for its relatively low temperatures in all of the seasons. This lends itself to making a very nature-rich area. Lots of fresh water, air and quality feed available to the ranchers, help make it a great area for high-quality beef. The cattle’s diet primarily consists of the lush pasture grass in the area and local straw.
You’ll find the kinds of cattle raised here include, the Holstein, Japanese Brown, Japanese Black, Japanese Shorthorn, Aberdeen Angus and the Hereford.
The only region in the world you can get certified Kobe is from Hyogo and the only cattle that comes from is the Tajima strain. Out of those cattle, only a few are chosen to get the certification which comes from a set of criteria set by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.
From calves, the cattle are fed a combination of rice straw, barley, and maize – along with fresh water. These cows reach ideal quality and texture at a minimum age of 28 months and up to 32 months.
Carcasses are graded on the following criteria to be called Kobe:
Kirosa Farms uses cattle that come from a mixed breed of Japanese Wagyu and Holstein which produce offspring used in F1 Wagyu. These cattle have better feeding efficiency, thus allowing the beef to be a bit more affordable, yet still showing the same amount of umami flavor people love in Wagyu beef.
This feeding system is an integrated one that starts feeding the cattle as 8-month old calves. The hygenic way of raising, places each calves in 6.6 square meters of space, which is said to keep the calf stress-free and comfortable.
Feed is supplied by the Iwate Feed Union, to help ensure quality and consistency. Each step of the feeding process records are under full disclosure – at any time. This accountability helps ensure the best possible scenario for the welfare of the animal and a consistently superior product.
This is the only place in the world that raises Kobe Wine Beef. The cattle here are fed a steady diet of food that has the lees from wine grapes – the rest of the feed is a mix of sugar canes, beer lees as well natto bacteria. Additional feed is hay. Ukutanba, Hyogo – the region in which this farm is in – is also known for its Tanba beef as well as the Aka Jidori chicken.
Production of Kobe Wine Beef started very small at only 30 head of cattle. It has now blossomed into 1200 cattle.
Hikami buys cattle at 10-months old Black cattle which are then raised in its cowsheds. These sheds are surrounded by lush pastures, and filled with sawdust as well as compost. This compost mix helps to attract flies so they don’t stress out the cattle.