THE Birth Certificate

Posted on May 13, 2011 in Hiroko's Blog

Everyone is aware of the controversy and the resolution of the President Obama birth certificate affair. Perhaps this has made everyone more aware of the status and uses of their own birth certificates. In Japan, where I am now, there is yet another important (?) side of the birth certificate issue. Here I’m talking about birth certificates for beef cattle!  Take a look at the photo accompanying this entry. That very official-looking document is the birth certificate that includes the ancestry and region of origin of one head of Japanese cattle that in the end became delicious and very expensive wagyu beef. At a high end restaurant in Japan, where I had dinner last year in Kyoto, you may be shown the certificate of the cow from which your meal is derived when you order your high-priced, but excellent beef dinner.  Everyone is familiar with the legends – some pure fiction and some real – that describe how small herds of pampered Japanese beef cattle are raised. – beer, massages and Mozart, and this recent birth-certificate-for-cattle ploy is one addition to the PR folio of the beef industry in Japan. In the end, however, I must admit that there is no beef in the world like the highly marbled, incredibly tasty wagyu beef in Japan. These days in the US you may find so called “wagyu”  in markets and at restaurants, but if the price is less than $120 per pound what you are getting is hybrid Japanese-American beef bred and raised in the US. It’s good, but not as good as the real thing. When you visit Japan, as I hope you will, save up your yen and try the real thing.