Behind the scenes of raising the best Miyazaki Wagyu in Japan.
Once every five years, the National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu (Wagyu Olympics) brings together the best Wagyu cattle from across Japan to compete and display the results of improvements to their brands (An overview and judging criteria can be found here.) In the young female cattle category at the 12th Wagyu Olympics, Akihiro Hayashi from Takachiho Town won the top merit award. Young female cattle are precious because they are the ones that will produce Miyazaki Wagyu in the future. We interviewed Mr. Hayashi to learn about the special care with which these cattle are raised.
From painter to cattleman. Using his ability to see the details that no one else can.
Mr. Hayashi was born in Kawachi, Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture. Everyone in the Kawachi area is self-sufficient, and Hayashi’s family grew shiitake mushrooms and rice while raising chickens and cattle. He excelled at art from an early age and went on to major in art at college. After graduating, he worked as a painter in the Kanto region for around 15 years. He decided to return to Kawachi after receiving news of his father’s death.
After returning to Kawachi, he spent half of his time working as a farmer and the other half as a painter. He only had two cattle at the time and mainly raised them for compost. One day, with the money he made from a painting he sold, he visited a cattle fair that was being held in his neighborhood. He purchased a beautiful calf that caught his eye. The same calf won the grand prize at the prefectural fair three years later. Because of his background in painting, he could see the calf’s fine details, giving him an insight into how it would grow in the future. This gave him a new appreciation for cattle rearing and he gradually became fascinated with the livestock industry.
Cattle are bred with special attention to their individual nature using the advantages of the ranch’s geographical location.
Mr. Hayashi studied the characteristics of cattle on his own and has adopted a unique method of raising cattle that is suited to the local area of Kawachi, Takachiho Town. The feed he uses is wild grass from Kawachi, Takachiho Town and the Aso region of Kumamoto Prefecture. He blends his own original ingredients and feeds them according to their digestive system in an optimal manner.
He also does all the hoof trimming, shearing, and training himself, which is usually left to specialists. He even takes the cattle for regular walks to strengthen their legs and hips. The Kawachi area has many steep slopes. Walking in this environment strengthens the cattle’s legs and helps to build ideal muscles to create a beautiful body.
Koumiho the winner of the top honor prize at this year’s fair, is a dignified and beautiful cattle. She was raised with great care and we did everything we can to make her look relaxed and ready for the fair.
Enjoy the most delicious Miyazaki Wagyu in Japan.
Mr. Hayashi takes full advantage of the region’s environment to carefully nurture his cattle. We invite you to try this special Miyazaki Wagyu, a product of his passion, at selected restaurants in Miyazaki Prefecture.
This article was written in December 2022.
Some photos used in this article were taken at an earlier date.