Where Does Wagyu Beef Come From? Certainly Not America

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Wagyu beef originates in Japan and is famous for its rich marbling and exquisite flavor. Let’s explore where wagyu where does Wagyu beef come from and how it differs from American wagyu.

Where Does Wagyu Beef Come From?

Wagyu beef hails from Japan, where “Wagyu” means “Japanese cow.” It’s famous for its incredible tenderness and marbling, giving it a luxurious melt-in-the-mouth quality and a rich taste.

Wagyu cattle receive special care, including unique diets and sometimes even massages, all adding to their premium quality. This exceptional care makes Wagyu beef expensive, making it a prized delicacy for worldwide food lovers.

Where Does Wagyu Beef Come From On The Cow?

Wagyu beef mainly comes from several cuts of the cow, with the most prized being the ribeye, sirloin, and tenderloin. These cuts are known for their high marbling, contributing to their exceptional tenderness and flavor. While other cuts like chuck and round can also be used, they are typically less marbled and thus less tender. The specific part of the cow where Wagyu beef comes from is crucial in its quality and taste.

wagyu marbling
Wagyu’s marbling.

Here are some high-end dishes from this Japanese beef:

  • Wagyu steak: A classic preparation that highlights the incredible marbling and tenderness of Wagyu beef. It’s often simply seasoned with salt and pepper to let the meat’s flavor shine.
  • Wagyu sushi or sashimi: Thinly Japanese Wagyu beef is served raw as sushi or sashimi. It’s incredibly tender and can be enjoyed with soy sauce and wasabi.
  • Wagyu beef hot pot: Quality slices are cooked in a flavorful broth with vegetables, mushrooms, and noodles. 
  • Wagyu Beef Wellington: A luxurious take on the classic Beef Wellington, this dish wraps Wagyu beef in puff pastry with mushroom duxelles. It’s often served with a rich red wine reduction.

Where Does Wagyu Beef Come From In Japan?

Wagyu beef mainly comes from different regions in Japan. The top three brands of Wagyu – Matsusaka Ushi, Kobe Beef, and Ohmi Beef – come from Japan’s Kansai region. These brands have their roots in Tajima beef, a type of Japanese Black cattle from Hyogo Prefecture. Each Wagyu brand has its distinct flavor because of its unique breeding and raising methods. Kobe beef is known as the most expensive beef in the world, you should know how much Kobe beef is per pound before buying it.

Authentic Wagyu beef originates from Japan. It’s derived from four Japanese cattle breeds: Black, Brown, Shorthorn, and Polled. Originally bred for agricultural work, these cattle have strong front bodies and an even distribution of fat cells within their muscles.

How is Wagyu beef raised?

Wagyu farmers maintain the purity of their working bloodlines and provide the cattle with high-energy diets in stress-free environments. They have spent decades perfecting their techniques to ensure these cattle have high-fat content.  While it’s a popular myth that Wagyu cattle are massaged daily. The belief is that massages can help with blood circulation, contributing to the quality of the meat.

Wagyu cows are fed a special diet that includes high-energy feedstuffs. This diet helps them develop a consistently high-fat content and the characteristic marbling. In some cases, it’s even rumored that cows are fed cold beer.

Where Does Wagyu Beef Come From In The US?

In 1976, the first Japanese Black and Red Wagyu bulls, Mazda, Mt. Fuji, Judo, and Rueshaw, arrived in the U.S. courtesy of Colorado University. Recognizing the potential, the American Wagyu Association was formed in 1990 to support this emerging niche market. The Japanese government, realizing the value of their Wagyu cattle, halted further exports, considering them a national treasure.

wagyu dish
Delicious Wagyu side dishes.

In 1993, around 200 more bulls and Japanese Black females were imported. To achieve pureblood status, ranchers must DNA test each cow and their parents to trace their Japanese roots.

What’s the difference between Japanese and American Wagyu? In their flavor and marbling. Japanese Wagyu boasts a sweet umami flavor that sets it apart. Its marbling is so intense that it practically melts in your mouth. In contrast, while undeniably delicious, American Wagyu doesn’t quite reach the same level of sweetness and melt-in-your-mouth marbling as its Japanese counterpart.


What do wagyu cows eat?

This diet often includes grains like corn, barley, wheat, forage, and hay. Additionally, some farmers have been known to incorporate unique practices like giving their cows beer, although this is not a standard part of their diet.

How is wagyu beef made?

It involves a combination of genetics, feeding, and care. The cattle are typically raised in a stress-free environment and are often given special attention, including massages and beer, to ensure the meat’s tenderness and flavor. After the cattle are raised and processed, the beef undergoes grading to determine its quality before it is sold to consumers.

Where does Kobe beef come from?

Kobe beef comes from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, specifically from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle raised in the region. This area, particularly the city of Kobe, is famous for its strict standards and practices in producing high-quality beef.


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