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Must Try for All Meat Lovers! Big 3 Japanese Wagyu Beef that Fascinates the World

It was after late 19th century when Western culture was introduced to Japan that many Japanese first started to eat beef. Since then, beef has become one of regular items served at Japanese homes, and you can find a great variety of them available in the Japanese market today. There are currently about 300 areas around Japan producing high quality, so called “brand beef”. Especially among them, we are here introducing to you the big 3 Japanese brand beef you cannot miss out. Photo:


Big 3 Japanese Beef

1. Matsusaka Beef


This brand beef is produced in Mie Prefecture and has become a representative of high quality Japanese beef. This finely marbled beef has sweet and sophisticated taste, which is highly addictive. The secret of the high quality lies in the breeding method. Very uniquely, Matsusaka Beef cows are fed beer for better appetite and even have their bodies massaged with shochu liquor. 

Related: The Flavors of Wagyu and How to Best Eat It

2. Kobe Beef


The fame of Kobe beef is said to date back to the time when Kobe Port opened in 1867 and non-Japanese residents praised what was then called Tajima Beef produced in the area. The beef has now established its reputation internationally as Kobe Beef and attracts not only Japanese but also people outside Japan. It is well known that the former NBA player Joe Bryant was so much fascinated by the Kobe Beef he ate when he visited Japan that he named his own son “Kobe.” The son, Kobe Bryant, later became a superstar of Los Angeles Lakers. This connection led to the city of Kobe naming him as the city’s ambassador in 2001.

3. Omi Beef


Omi Beef is said to have longer history than any other Japanese brand beef. What’s great about this beef is its relatively affordable price for the excellently tender texture and the good balance of fat and meat.

There is a popular theory about the famous assassination of the feudal lord Ii Naosuke (Sakuradamon Incident) in 1860. According to the theory, Ii was assassinated because he had prohibited Omi Beef as an article to present to the local Mito lord and offended the lord, who was a devout lover of the beef. If this had been the truth, it means that Omi Beef is so astoundingly delicious that it even changed the course of history.


Events Associated with Beef

In recent years, there is a variety of meat events held all around Japan.

1. Japan’s Largest Meat Event, “Niku-Fes” (Meat Festival)

Niku-Fes is a greatly popular event which marked its 5th anniversary in 2016 and has attracted a total of 2.8 million visitors. You can enjoy various meat cuisines of beef, chicken and pork from around the world at the festival venue. The festival features not only food stalls but also stage performances by various artists. If you are up for a place where you can enjoy Japanese entertainment while savoring great meat dishes from around the world, you must check out this event.

*The event venue varies by year. Check the latest information before visiting. Official Website:

2. August 29th, the Day of Yakiniku (Grilled Meat)


All Japan Yakiniku (Grilled Beef) Association proposed “the day of yakiniku (grilled meat)” in a wish to relieve people’s summer heat fatigue with stamina-boosting grilled meat. The choice of “August 29th” as the event day was because the date (8/29) can be playfully rhymed similar to the word yakiniku. On the day, the association members host a variety of promotional events and campaigns around Japan.


Not only in August but every month, many yakiniku restaurants around Japan also host special events and offer discounts on the 29th for a similar reason that “29” can be pronounced “niku,” which means meat. So if you happened to be in Japan on the 29th, why not visit one of those yakiniku restaurants in your vicinity?

Related: 4 Choices for Yakiniku & Yakitori: The Tachigui Style Spreading Beyond Soba!

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About the author

I'm interested in general in all things related to culture and fine arts with a focus on movies, art, and design. I hope to introduce to many people all the different sides to Japan in regards to Japanese culture.

View all articles by KAWATA