From the 3rd till the 10th September 2017 we will be in Osaka & Kobe – Japan.
Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo’s 23 wards and the third largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo’s 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.
Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the “nation’s kitchen” (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro) and served as a center for the rice trade during the Edo period.
Osaka is known for its food, in Japan and abroad. Author Michael Booth and food critic François Simon of Le Figaro have suggested that Osaka is the food capital of the world. Osakans’ love for the culinary is made apparent in the old saying “Kyotoites are financially ruined by overspending on clothing, Osakans are ruined by spending on food. Regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, pan-fried batter cake), takoyaki (たこ焼き, octopus in fried batter), udon (うどん, a noodle dish), as well as the traditional oshizushi (押し寿司, pressed sushi), particularly battera (バッテラ, pressed mackerel sushi).
Osaka is known for its fine sake, which is made with fresh water from the prefecture’s mountains. Osaka’s culinary prevalence is the result of a location that has provided access to high quality ingredients, a high population of merchants, and proximity to the ocean and waterway trade. In recent years, Osaka has started to garner more attention from foreigners with the increased popularity of cooking and dining in popular culture.
Kobe beef (神戸ビーフ Kōbe bīfu) (KO-BEH) refers to beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle, raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture according to rules as set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. The meat is a delicacy renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. Kobe beef can be prepared as steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, and teppanyaki. Kobe beef is generally considered one of the three top brands (known as Sandai Wagyuu, “the three big beefs”), along with Matsusaka beef and Ōmi beef or Yonezawa beef.
Cattle were introduced in Japan in the second century as work animals used for rice cultivation. Because of Japan’s “difficult terrain and sparse arable land” due in part to its mountainous topography, cattle were bred in small, isolated regions, yielding herds with unique qualities in their meat.
After the Meiji Restoration, beef consumption remained low, but it has steadily increased since the end of World War II. Kobe beef grew in popularity and extended its global reach in the 1980s and 1990s.
In the late 19th century, native Japanese cattle were interbred with European breeds, including Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, and Devon. The cattle originally recognized in 1943 as “Kobe beef” were cattle from herds in the Kobe area of Japan, and could be any of four breeds of Wagyu cattle—Akaushi (Japanese Red/Brown), Kuroushi (Japanese Black), Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. Tajima is a strain of the Japanese Black, the most populous breed (around 90% of the four breeds).
In 1983, the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association was formed to define and promote the Kobe trademark. It sets standards for animals to be labeled as Kobe beef.
In 2009, the USDA placed a ban on the import of all Japanese beef to prevent the Japan foot-and-mouth outbreak from reaching US shores. The ban was relaxed in August, 2012. Shortly thereafter, Kobe beef was imported into the US for the first time.