The real facts about Japanese Wagyu beef

Wagyu Beef.. if you are a meat lover you probably endore this special marbled beef. Every 'hype' has its own story, so does Wagyu Beef. After listening to many stories about this special Japanese beef, we got the opportunity to visit a Wagyu farm and factory. Probably you know these stories though…cows that; drink beer, get massaged, listen to music and so on...
During our Japan Tour we visit a Wagyu Farm in Kagoshima, at the south western tip of the island of Kyushu. Together with Yusuke Takada (chef/owner of La Cime, 2 Michelin star Restaurant in Osaka), we flew from Osaka to Kagoshima.
When we arrived, we were picked up and guided by JA 鹿児島県経済連/ JA 食肉かごしま 
First things first, we had seiro-mushi lunch together at their own restaurant “Karen” and taste their fresh Kagoshima products.



Kagoshima Wagyu Factory
After lunch we drove to the Wagyu Factory to learn about the process and philosophy.
A visit is not a daily activity for this factory, in fact, they rarely allow visitors.
There are very strict hygienic rules during the visit. During the tour there are several processes like: wearing disposable overall, hairnet, clogs, gloves and go into a air shower. For each area there are different hygiene rules and change of footwear.
Process in the factory
At 7:30 am the inspector checks the entire workspace on hygiene. When something is not properly cleaned, the entire workspace will be cleaned again. The boning and cutting process is from 08:00 until 15:00 hrs. Regarding to the strict rules, first the international orders are handled and afterwards the domestic orders. This factory doesn't provide any meat to the EU, this in order of the related EU rules that would change their original process.

Kagoshima Farm
After the factory tour, we visit the farm. Here we can check out the Kagoshima cattle.
Some facts about the Kagoshima cattle:
  • The calves are born with a weight of 30 kg.
  • Per day they gain approx. 1 kg in weight.
  • After the birth they go, in various stages, to a farm for fattening.
  • They are fed twice a day. In phase 1; (6 months) they get 7 kg grass and maize mix.
  • In phase 2; (19 months) they get 9 kg maize mix only.
  • When the cattle reach a weight of approx. 800 kg, they are transported to the factory. At the factory they are kept in a stable for a day, to reduce the stress.
    The meat becomes more tender with less stess. The carcasses hang out for 2 days. After slaughter the cow carcass weighs approx. 400 kg and the bull carcass weighs approx. 550 kg.

So no hidden gems. The combination of the special cattle and strictly processes, creates this amazing result; Japanese Wagyu Beef. 
It was a very interesting and special experience. We are grateful for this opportunity, many thanks to Chef Yusuke Takada and the hospitality of JA 鹿児島県経済連/ JA 食肉かごしま.
Are you a real Japanese Wagyu Beef lover or want a great Japanese experience in general? This trip to Kagoshima should be on your bucketlist!

Note: make sure you schedule a visit through (Japanese) connections, this is not a public attraction.
author and source: Chanine Steffers, Primedinners

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