I am putting this blog post together just before lunch time and its not easy as it is making me incredibly hungry.
One of our fantastic Japan staff, Ayako Kiyono recently took it upon herself to visit a Kobe beef farm. I am sure that you have heard of Kobe Beef, but these days the term ‘Kobe Beef’ seems to be linked to any meat where the animals have been reared slightly differently to the usual methods as I recently found on a trip to Cornwall. The landlord of a pub and farmer was feeding his cows and pigs on local beer and producing his own, “Kobe beef and pork”. It was nice, but it certainly wasn’t the real McCoy.
The real Kobe beef is produced in the Hyogo area of Japan and Kiyono san wanted to actually see what went into producing the finest beef in the world. She travelled to Takami Kobe Beef farm in the rural town of Ichijima to find out and here is what she discovered.
What is the Kobe Beef?
No cows are born to be “Kobe Beef” cow.
Only Tajima-gyu cows (special breed in Hyogo prefecture) that satisfy the specific quality criteria deserve the title “Kobe Beef”.
Roughly 3000 Tajima-gyu cows manage to pass the criteria and titled as Kobe Beef every year.
Who discovered Kobe Beef for the first time?
Surprisingly, it was an Englishman! Until 1868, Japanese were not accustomed to eating meat, but that year, Kobe opened its doors to foreign trade as an international port and Kobe Beef was eaten for the first time.
How are the cows raised?
At the Takami Kobe Beef Farm, the following methods are use for their cows;
Cows drink Sakamizu water. Sakamizu refers to spring water that is used to brew fine Sake.
Cows take a shower twice a day. (Shampoo and treatment)
Cows are talked to by farmers. (Farmers check each cows health by talking to them)
Each cow has Japanese name and taken care very well by farmers.
Cows are watched 24h through security camera.
Cows do not do any exercise.
Are there any problems with raising pure-blood Tajima-Gyu?
Pure-blood Tajima Cows are not as healthy as their half-blood counterpart.
Pure-blood cows tend to be born premature and grow slowly.
What is special about Kobe Takami Beef Farm?
Takami Kobe Beef Farm won the championship for Kobe Beef 2010 and the farm has an official license.
Normally, each process, such as breeding, raising, and fattening are done separately by different farmers who is specialized in each process. Visitors to Takami can observe all the processes that go into raising a ‘Kobe Beef Cow’.
Takami Beef Farm has restaurants where visitors are able to enjoy fresh Kobe beef for reasonable prices. Try a Kobe beef rice bowl (Gyudon) or 1260 yen or the best Takami Kobe beef course at lunch time for an incredible 3800 yen.
Takami Kobe Beef Farm is approximately a 2h 15 minute train ride from Kyoto by train. If you want to eat the best beef in the world and at a decent price…and see exactly what goes into producing it, then it might be worth a visit. Let us know and we can organise it for you!