Omi beef is the “miracle” The oldest branded beef in Japan that the Tokugawa Shogunate also loved

History of Omi Beef

The official root of the healing drug “Anti-Honmaru”

During the Edo period, the Hikone feudal clan, which ruled the northern part of Omi country (present-day Shiga prefecture), paid a remedy called “Henpongan” to the shogunate. The real identity of this drug is the beef soaked in miso. Although eating meat was publicly forbidden, the shogunate generals and officials knew the taste of beef and wanted to eat it somehow in the name of medicine to eat it.
During this period, the Hikone clan was the only clan allowed by the shogunate to produce beef, as can be seen Omi beef has been recognized as a brand name today. In other words, this is the official source of the Omi beef.

Product development was encouraged by the Shogunate’s letter of praise

Part of a letter of appreciation from the Mito family, Tokugawa Nariaki, for donating beef from feudal lord Hikone, Naoaki Ii, in December 1848 (Photo: Naoaki Ii) Production Promotion Council and distributing “Omi beef”)

In particular, Tokugawa Masaaki of the Mito clan is known to be a fan of this Omi beef, and in December 1848, he said: “I often accept beef and use it for healing purposes”. I am sending a written thank you letter to feudal lord Hikone.
The Hikone family also makes processed products and develops a method of producing dried beef. It is documented that this “dried beef” was also offered to the shogunate.

Omi beef in the Meiji era

During the Meiji period, Omi beef was shipped to Tokyo due to the development of a distribution network.
It was originally shipped by sea via Kobe Port and Yokkaichi Port. The Tokaido main line opened in 1889 and when Omi Hachiman Station opened, direct road transport to Tokyo began the following year.
About 100 years later, the Omi beef brand was established and became one of the three main beef brands

with Kobe beef and Matsuzaka beef.

* Yonezawa beef or Maesawa beef may be listed as a third item.

Modern Omi beef brand strategy

Breeding in the agricultural area around Higashi-Omi
Currently, Omi cattle are raised on about 60 livestock farms in Shiga Prefecture, and about 80% of them are concentrated in the surrounding Higashi-Omi area, centered on Omi Hachiman City and Higashi-Omi City.

This area is a strongly developed area of ​​agriculture, including rice production, since ancient times there were many cows in the field, and cows were very familiar to the local people.

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Production and Distribution Council certification: Issued to high quality carcasses (Category A4 or above) .English version is also available for export
Kobe beef and Matsuzaka beef bear the name of the city, while Omi beef bears the place name representing the entire Shiga prefecture. Partly for this reason, the province is working to strengthen the support system for production and consumption.

In 2007, with the start of activities of the “Shiga Meat Center”, the “Omi Beef” Production and Distribution Promotion Council was established. Council engages in brand strength and sales promotion efforts, such as regional group trademark registration and management, certification systems and designated store systems.

Points for maintaining and enhancing brand strength
Shiga prefecture considers the brand value of Omi beef as “high quality, rich history and proximity to the region”, and the key to maintaining and enhancing the brand strength is to disclose the characteristics of it to the consumer. ..

Third of these, “closeness to community,” represents closeness. Taking advantage of the conditions of the field with a lot of rice and thriving rice cultivation, we provide the straw that is a by-product of this for livestock and we consciously circulate with the local agriculture.

An energetic heir
Another feature would be the existence of a successor. For young farmers, Omi beef is a traditional culture that needs to be preserved and is one of the industries that will continue to develop in the future. With that in mind, we can work with pride and hope, so there will be more successors.

In the Onaka district of Omi Hachiman City and Higashi Omi City, young producers, mainly in their thirties, have gathered to form an organization called “Omi Daichu Ushi Beef Research Group. Lab “. We independently research the fattening methods for better Omi beef and disseminate information through SNS and other means. These young people ‘voluntary public relations activities are also a factor in enhancing the brand strength of Omi beef.

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Shiga Meat Center
The secret is cultivated in deep history and rich natural environment concentrated in Lake Biwa. Shiga prefecture has all the conditions for growing high-quality beef, and in fiscal year 2017, we shipped about 6,600 Omi cows per year.