Jun 18,2018 KYOTO BEEF refined taste and a high-quality texture
Travelers from all over the world are asked “What do you want to eat in Japan?” To this, many foreigners answer “Wagyu beef”. There are many Japanese dishes that use domestic beef, with sukiyaki and shabu-shabu as the main ones. In the world of Wagyu beef, Kyoto beef is a type that has its own variations and charm.
Blessed with four seasons, Japanese cattle farmers use carefully thought-out methods to produce Wagyu. If you want to experience beef that melts in your mouth and is packed with a light sweetness in each cut, then you must try Kyoto beef. Kyoto is a city with a history of over 1,000 years in developing its own culture, and also is a place where you can eat the best gourmet food. And in fact, people in Kyoto from olden times loved beef. A lot of conditions must be cleared before the beef can be declared “Kyoto Beef”. For example, it must be Kuroge Wagyu beef, the cow must have been raised for the longest amount of time in Kyoto and it must be A5 rank (the highest rank) or within the B5, A4 or B4 range, as certified by the Japan Meat Grading Association. All of these must be cleared before the meat can be enjoyed as “Kyoto Beef”, a meat that delights those with a sharp sense of taste.
Raised in nature with lots of love top quality – HIRAI BEEF
In the category of Kyoto beef, Hirai beef is known to be especially delicious. The cattle for this beef is raised in Nantan, an area in central Kyoto known for its vast nature. We talked to Kazue Hirai, who is the fifth-generation owner of KYOTO TANBA BOKUJO FARM, where around 1,700 cows are raised.
■Kyoto has a rich history with beef
Ms. Hirai has worked on the farm for 9 years, where she has taken over for her father. When she first started working, Kyoto beef was selected by famous ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurants) and restaurants that specifically wanted to buy it, but it was not well-known throughout the country. With a passion to make Kyoto beef more well-known across Japan and overseas, Ms. Hirai started working hard. “I have participated in panel discussions about Japanese beef, and spoke at Kyoto University’s farming department about how to fatten up cattle. I will accept any invitation if it helps more people learn about Kyoto beef,” Ms. Hirai said.
“The history of Kyoto beef goes back to 1310, where it appears in an ancient text. It is said that even feudal lords in the Edo period (1603-1868) secretly ate it. There is a long history of people coming to Kyoto to eat beef. Nikujaga (Japanese-style meat and potato stew) and skewered beef are foods that are commonly eaten here. People in Kyoto eat more beef than any other people in Japan.”
■It takes 5 years before hirai beef is shipped
In order to satisfy the foodies of Kyoto, KYOTO TANBA BOKUJO FARM uses the very best methods. “The cattle drink natural water that is tapped from 150 meters underground. They are raised in an open space where they do not feel stress and cedar and cypress chips are laid on the ground to keep them clean. Their fur is brushed with love,” Ms. Hirai said. What is more, the national average time before a cattle is shipped out is 26 months, but at KYOTO TANBA BOKUJO FARM, the cattle are raised for 35 months. It takes time and the cost is high, but fattening the cattle for a longer time makes them bigger, and the fat is at the point where it will melt in temperature of a human mouth. “If a female cow with good lineage is pregnant and gives birth to a strong calf, that calf is raised on the farm until it is shipped off. This process takes about 5 years,” Ms. Hirai explained.
“Thanks to the help of professionals in various fields who supported making quality Hirai beef, we were able to participate in the Wagyu Beef Olympics held once every 5 years, where we won second place and fifth place”. Because they fatten up the cattle for a long time, Hirai beef is hard to find in Japan outside of its “hometown” of Kyoto. Try going on a “meat pilgrimage” in Kyoto in order to eat Kyoto beef and Hirai beef.
After graduating from university, she spent 3 years working at a major recruiting company before joining her father at KYOTO TANBA BOKUJO FARM. As the person continuing the business, she aims to keep the quality of Kyoto beef high and wants to spread the word about the deliciousness of the beef.
- KYOTO TANBA BOKUJO FARM
63 Asahi-cho Hitotsubashi, Kameoka-shi, Kyoto
*Tours are not held
The information is current as of May 2018.