Like the wine regions of France, Japan produces regional varieties of Wagyu, each distinctive in its history, traditions, practices and flavor profiles. We have worked tirelessly over the last few years to forge relationships with top producers and the Japanese government to debut award-winning varieties that have never been available outside of Japan — like 11-time National Champion Iwate-Gyu and Olive Wagyu, the rarest beef on earth. This week we’re launching our largest event to date — aptly named our Biggest Japanese Wagyu Event Ever.
With Japan’s ultimate shokunin farm now available on Crowd Cow — Kato Gyu raised by Akio Kato — you can now choose from over 20 cuts of Japanese Wagyu from our farm partners spanning four diverse prefectures in Japan. You won’t find a superior selection of Japanese Wagyu like this anywhere else.
Most wagyu farmers are members of professional associations (共進会 or kyoshinkai) at the local, provincial, and national levels. These associations provide a forum for collaboration among members and conduct competitive auctions and tournaments, which award highly coveted prizes and distinctions. For the winners, these awards are a huge honor, even at the local level.
Our travels in Japan to discover the best wagyu it has to offer led us to some exquisite farms and varieties that we are proud to share with you:
2019 | Kato Gyu: Gunma Prefecture — Japan’s most award-winning, single-origin Wagyu farm.
Akio Kato of Kato Gyu is the ultimate shokunin farmer in Japan, and has won over 100 awards for his A5 Wagyu and farm, including National Farm of the Year; Gunma Ken Edaniku Kyoshinkai（群馬県枝肉共進会）Norin Suisan Daijin Sho — Award from The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (2014 to 2018); and Joshu Gyu Kyoshin Kai（上州牛共進会）— first place five years in a row (2012 to 2016).
Kato produces a limited amount of BMS 12 — the highest grade of Wagyu achievable in Japan — and practices extremely high levels of quality control on his farm, growing his own corn used to feed his herd as well as attaining the expertise and licenses to run his own breeding programs.
2019 | Iwate Gyu: Iwate Prefecture — Japan's 11-time national champion and most sustainable Wagyu.
One of the most important Wagyu competitions held at the national level is the annual National Grading Competition, or Zenkoku Edaniku Kyoureikai (全国枝肉共励会). Iwate Wagyu has earned the top prize more times than any other region, winning it 11 times. Iwate Wagyu cattle are bred and raised on the same farm their entire lives, fed on locally grown Iwate rice straw junjomai in a full-cycle agricultural system.
2018 | Olive Wagyu: Kagawa Prefecture — The rarest steak on the planet.
There are only 2,200 Olive Wagyu cattle in the world, all raised on coastal Kagawa, with only a few harvested per month. They are fed a special diet of Inawara rice straw, Italian ryegrass, and upcycled olive pulp from the island's olive oil producers, toasted and sweetened in the same tradition as Seto Inland Sea dried persimmons. Olive Wagyu won "Best Fat Quality" at the Wagyu Olympics in 2017, in part because of its dramatically higher oleic acid content — a heart-healthy fatty acid that also boosts this wagyu’s coveted umami flavor and delicate mouthfeel.
2017 | Kagoshima Farms: Kagoshima Prefecture — The overall Wagyu Olympics winner.
The Wagyu Olympics is held once every 5 years, and in 2017, Kagoshima Wagyu earned the highest average score across all categories, taking home the top prize. Kagoshima prefecture’s year-round temperate climate and ecology are well-suited to raising healthy cattle with low stress levels, and is collectively responsible for around 20% of Japan's Kuroge Washu cattle, the Wagyu breed that produces Japanese A5 Wagyu.
Excited yet? We sure are. Shop your favorite farm or try cuts from all four prefectures for the ultimate Japanese Wagyu tasting flight. Don’t miss out — our Biggest Japanese Wagyu Event ends this Saturday, December 7, 2019, and ships in time for Christmas!