Omi Beef Was Enjoyed by Samurai
Omi Beef has a history dating back approximately 400 years, far longer than that of any other wagyu brand. It is said the Omi Beef was presented to the shoguns in 1590, when Japan was unified into one country. Even during the Edo Era (1603-1868), when the consumption of meat was forbidden, miso-marinated beef was sold as the healthcuring agent Henpongan by the Hikone Domain (currently Shiga Prefecture, the birthplace of Omi Beef), and was presented to the Edo Shogunate. In this way, Omi Beef was served to the samurai who unified Japan and thus has an ancient and honorable origin.
Records show that during the Edo era, beef was dried in the Hikone Domain. Gojoshi Yoriai Tomecho (Gojoshi’s Collective Notebook), Collection of Hikone Castle Museum
Origins of Certified Omi Beef
Entering the Meiji Era, shipments of Omi Beef to Tokyo got underway along with the development of a distribution network. During this period, all Omi Beef was shipped under the name “Kobe Beef.” This was because Omi Beef was shipped to Tokyo via Kobe Port and in those days it was customary to refer to a brand of beef by the name of the port from which it was shipped. Therefore, Omi Beef was handled as “Kobe Beef” even though it was actually produced in a different region. This is the reason why the name “Kobe Beef” became widely recognized throughout the world.
In 1889, the Tokaido Line rail network opened and the following year (1890) Omihachiman Station was completed. This paved the way for the start of direct shipments by land routes to Tokyo, and as a result, the name “Omi Beef” finally came into use. Subsequently, over the next 100 years the Omi Beef brand became firmly established and today Omi Beef is being raised on 80 farms in nine cities and five towns in Shiga Prefecture.
Auction sale of Omi Beef (Rooftop of Nihonbashi Shirokiya, in 1954)