Japanese cuisine offers a variety beef-based dishes, including sukiyaki and shabu-shabu-style hot pots. There are, in fact, said to be more than 200 types of domestic Japanese beef, or wagyu. Among these beef varieties, the most highly regarded are Matsuzaka beef, Kobe beef and Ohmi beef, known as the “Japan Top Three Wagyu.” While Kobe beef may be better known internationally, it’s actually Ohmi beef, which uses Japanese black cattle grown in Shiga Prefecture, that has the longest history of the three.
Known widely as a forerunner to the Japanese beef brand, Ohmi beef is said to trace its roots back over 400 years. At the end of the Warring States Period (1467-1590), Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered Odawara Castle, the final obstacle in his quest to unify all of Japan. Historical records indicate that Hideyoshi’s ally, Takayama Ukon, treated the warlords who distinguished themselves in the battle to beef, and this is said to be the origin of the Ohmi beef brand.
In the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Westernization led to drastic changes in people’s lifestyles, and beef grew in popularity. Due to the efforts of Ohmi merchants, Ohmi beef rapidly spread nationwide during this time.
Ohmi beef comes from carefully selected stock cattle bred in the abundant nature around Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. The cattle are raised according to long-established principles, drawing on the lake’s clean water and consuming feed with carefully considered nutritional balance. The positive environment and high-quality fattening processes lead to meat that is well marbled and soft, with tender fat and a mellow smell. These characteristics are highly valued not only in Japan, but around the globe.
Though it may not be as internationally famous as Kobe beef, Ohmi is regarded as a beef brand to be carefully appreciated by those in the know. It can also be bought at a relatively reasonable price compared to other wagyu brands. With so much packed inside, the flavor of Ohmi beef is truly unforgettable.
1364-1 Ukano Maibara City Shiga Prefecture
1-3 Kasugacho Otsu City Shiga Prefecture