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The Meat in Japan | What do Japanese People Eat?

Japan has always been a place where meat is synonymous with deliciousness. However, the country is also home to some of the world’s finest sushi restaurants, so it’s no surprise that the nation’s top-rated beef has been winning awards for years. Here are seven reasons why you should give beef in Japan a try.

There are a lot of opinions about this and some people think that eating meat is a great thing and some people think it’s wrong. I don’t think that it’s wrong, but I do think that I would love to eat meat more often. I wouldn’t eat it every day but I definitely plan to eat meat more often in the future.

The volume of meat the Japanese eat is increasing year by year. According to the Japanese government office, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, in the 1960’s, it was less than 10 kg per person per year. However, in 2019, it became 50.7 kg per person per year.

Despite being far from western countries, Luxembourg’s 136.5 kg as the No.1 meat-eating country and the United States of America’s 125.4 kg as the No.2 per person per year, the Japanese have a meat-eating food culture.

Pork (approximately 20.5kg per person per year).

Pork is the most popular meat in Japan. As of 2019, the amount of consumption is 20.5 kg per person per year. The self-sufficiency ratio is around 50%. The remaining half is imported from the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Spain, etc.

There are many Japanese cuisines with pork. Here are the popular pork dishes in Japan:

  • “Syoga-yaki” = pork ginger (above photo)
  • ’Tonkatsu’ = pork cutlet
  • “Tonjiru” = miso soup with pork and vegetables
  • “Kukuni” = Stew of cubed pork
  • Buta-man ’= Steamed pork bun

Pork is at a reasonable price compared with beef!

Chicken (19.5 kg per person per year)

Chicken is the 2nd most popular meat in Japan. As of 2019, the amount of consumption is 19.5 kg per person per year. The self-sufficiency ratio is around 2/3, or 66.6%. The remaining 1/3 is imported from Brazil, Thailand, China, etc.

There are many Japanese cuisines with chicken. Here are the popular chicken dishes in Japan:

  • ‘Kara-age’ = fried chicken (above picture).
  • “Yaki-Tori” = grilled chicken on a stick
  • “Oyakodon-don” = bowl of rice with chicken and egg
  • “Mizu-taki” = chicken hot pot

Kara-age is popular among all ages, from children to the elderly!

Beef/10.3 kg per person per year.

Beef is the 3rd most popular meat in Japan. As of 2019, the amount of consumption is 10.3 kg per person per year. The self-sufficiency ratio is around 36%. The remaining 64% is imported from Australia, the U.S.A., etc.

There are various Japanese cuisines with beef. These are the popular beef dishes in Japan:

  • “Gyu-don” = bowl of rice with beef

And there are many beef brands in Japan. It’s said that the following are top brands in Japan:

  • Kobe-style beef
  • Matsusaka-ushi:
  • Ohmi-ushi
  • Yonezawa-gyu

On happy days, we eat SUKIYAKI!

0.1 kg of horse meat per person per year.

Horse meat is consumed at the 4th highest rate in Japan. However, it’s not popular. As of 2019, Japanese people eat only 0.1 kg per person per year. The self-sufficiency ratio is around 40%. The remaining 60% is imported from Canada, Mexico, Argentina, etc.

Horse meat is eaten as local cuisine in some areas of Japan. It’s mainly in Kumamoto, Nagano, and Fukushima. Popular menu items are “Basashi” as raw horse meat (above photo) and “Sakura Nabe” as a horse meat hot pot.

Rarely, but the Japanese eat horse meat!

Others (0.3 kg per person per year)

Aside from the aforementioned, Japanese people consume mutton, lamb, venison, wild boar, chevon, turkey, duck meat, quail, and other meats.However, these are not popular. The amount of consumption is very low. The ratio is less than 1%. 99% of it is pork, chicken, and beef.

These are rarely eaten as local cuisine. “Genghis Khan” is a local cuisine of mutton in Hokkaido (above picture). Chevon is the local cuisine of the southern island of Japan. Furthermore, the Japanese never eat dogs, cats, or monkeys.

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The 5th is in chaos; mutton, lumb, venison, etc!

The kind of meat that Japanese people eat and its consumption

  • Pork (approximately 20.5kg per person per year).
  • Chicken (19.5 kg per person per year)
  • Beef/10.3 kg per person per year.
  • 0.1 kg of horse meat per person per year.
  • Others (0.3 kg per person per year)
  • Mutton, lamb, venison, wild boar, etc.

While India goes through its own debate over beef, it is intriguing to know that for over 12 centuries, meat eating was considered taboo in Japan. This may come as a surprise to some people who have found Japan to be a haven for quality beef or who have seen other unconventional meats on the menus of Japanese restaurants. Whilst the advent of Buddhism was a factor, there were practical reasons around the terrain not being conducive for rearing animals for meat and the simple scarcity of animals, which would rather be used on farms.

For both religious and practical reasons, the Japanese mostly avoided eating meat for over a century. Beef was especially taboo, with certain shrines demanding more than 100 days of fasting as penance for consuming it. The story of Japan’s shift away from meat began with the arrival of Buddhism from Korea in the 6th century. At that time, the Japanese were meat eaters. Venison and wild boar (which was sometimes called “yama kujira,” or “mountain whale”) were particularly popular. Aristocrats enjoyed hunting and feasting on deer entrails and wild fowl.

But the meat ban also had secular roots. Even before Buddhism, meat wasn’t an essential part of the Japanese diet. As a nation of islands, Japan has always relied on fish and seafood as staples. Raising animals is resource-intensive, so Japanese farmers working with limited space in their mountainous island nation largely avoided it. It was also in the best interest of the country to discourage the eating of useful farm animals, since there were relatively few of them in Japan.

One government decree stated that anyone who’d eaten a wild goat, wolf, rabbit, or raccoon dog (tanuki) was required to repent for five days before visiting a shrine. Those who’d eaten pork or venison, however, were required to repent for 60 days. For eaters of beef and horse meat, it was 150 days. On the rare occasions that they did eat meat, Japanese people cooked it on fires outside their homes and avoided looking directly at their altars afterwards so as not to contaminate them.

When Portuguese missionaries arrived in Japan in the early 16th century, they were told that the locals considered drinking milk to be like drinking blood and that eating beef was unthinkable. Even the warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, supposedly questioned Portuguese missionaries about their practice of eating beef, as cows were so useful as farm animals. Nevertheless, the Portuguese were able to spread some of their cuisine to the locals, including sweets, tempura, and beef, which Kyotoites called waka, from the Portuguese vaca.

Dietary customs began to change faster in the late 19th century. After Emperor Meiji assumed power in 1868, the Japanese government moved to end their two centuries of isolation and adopt Western practices and technology as quickly as possible. Plus, many believed “that one reason why the Japanese had poor physiques compared to Westerners was that they did not eat meat or dairy products,” writes Ishige.

One prefectural decree from 1872 reads, “Although beef is a wonderfully nutritious food, there are still a great number of people barring our attempt at westernization by clinging to conventional customs,” adding, “Such action is contrary to the wishes of the Emperor.”

In the end, the wishes of the Emperor prevailed. As Japan opened up to the world, it began to absorb meat-based dishes from Korea, China, and the West. Soon, expensive Western-style restaurants serving meat popped up in cities, followed by affordable Japanese restaurants serving a medicinal beef stew, which would evolve into the dish sukiyaki. Today, the Japanese eat almost as much meat as they do seafood. While it took a few decades, meat is now as much a part of Japanese cuisine as sushi.When it comes to meat consumption in Japan, what kind of meat do the Japanese consume?

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The amount of meat consumed by the Japanese is increasing year after year. When I was growing up, it was less than 10 kg per person per year (according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries), which is according to the Japanese government office. On the other hand, in 2019, it increased to 50.7 kg per person per year.

Japan has a meat-eating culture despite the fact that it is far away from western countries and that Luxembourg is the world’s top meat-eating country with 136.5 kg of meat consumed per person per year, while the United States of America is second with 125.4 kg of meat consumed per person per year.

Pork is a delicacy that is enjoyed by many people (approximately 20.5kg per person per year).

Pork is the most commonly consumed meat in Japan. As of 2019, the amount of consumption per person per year is 20.5 kilograms (kg). The proportion of people who are self-sufficient is approximately 50%. The remaining half is imported from countries such as the United States, Canada, Denmark, Spain, and others.

While India is currently undergoing its own beef debate, it is interesting to note that in Japan, meat consumption has been considered taboo for more than 12 centuries. This may come as a surprise to some people who have discovered Japan to be a haven for high-quality beef or who have seen other unusual meats on the menus of Japanese restaurants. However, this is not the case for everyone. In addition to the advent of Buddhism, there were practical considerations such as the terrain not being conducive to raising animals for meat and the scarcity of animals, which were better suited for use on farms rather than in the countryside.

For more than a century, the Japanese have largely abstained from eating meat, for religious and practical reasons alike. It was especially frowned upon to consume beef, with some shrines requiring more than 100 days of fasting as penance for doing so. The arrival of Buddhism from Korea in Japan in the 6th century marked the beginning of Japan’s transition away from meat consumption. At the time, the Japanese were primarily meat consumers. Venison and wild boar (which was sometimes referred to as “yama kujira” or “mountain whale”) were particularly popular among the people. Deer entrails and wild fowl were favorites of the aristocracy, who enjoyed hunting and feasting on them.

However, the meat ban had its origins in secularism as well. Even before the advent of Buddhism, meat was not considered a necessary component of the Japanese diet. As an island nation, Japan has traditionally relied on fish and seafood as its staple foods. Raising animals is a resource-intensive endeavor, which is why Japanese farmers working in their mountainous island nation’s limited space have largely avoided it. Due to the fact that Japan had a relatively small population of useful farm animals, it was also in the country’s best interests to discourage consumption of these animals.

In one case, a government decree required anyone who had eaten the flesh of a wild goat, wolf, rabbit, or raccoon dog (tanuki) to fast for five days before visiting a shrine.Those who had consumed pork or venison, on the other hand, were required to fast for 60 days. It was 150 days for those who consumed beef and horse meat. On the rare occasions when they did consume meat, Japanese people cooked it over open fires outside their homes and avoided looking directly at their altars afterward in order to avoid contaminating them with bacteria.

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After arriving in Japan in the early 16th century, Portuguese missionaries were informed that the locals believed drinking milk was the same as drinking blood and that eating beef was unthinkable. As a result of cows’ usefulness as farm animals, even the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi is said to have questioned Portuguese missionaries about their practice of eating beef. Despite this, the Portuguese were able to introduce some of their cuisine to the locals, including sweets, tempura, and beef, which the Kyotoites dubbed “waka,” which comes from the Portuguese vaca (beef stew).

Dietary customs began to shift more quickly in the late nineteenth century. Following the accession of Emperor Meiji to the throne in 1868, the Japanese government made a concerted effort to bring their two-hundred-year period of isolation to an end and to adopt Western practices and technology as quickly as possible. Many people also believed that one reason why the Japanese had such poor physiques compared to Westerners was because they did not consume meat or dairy products, according to Ishige’s article.

For example, according to one prefectural decree issued in 1872, “although beef is a wonderfully nutritious food, there are still a large number of people who are preventing our attempt at westernization by clinging to traditional customs,” adding, “Such action is contrary to what the Emperor would have wanted.”

At the end of the day, the Emperor’s wishes were granted. As Japan became more open to the rest of the world, it began to incorporate meat-based dishes from Korea, China, and the Western world. It wasn’t long before posh Western-style restaurants serving meat began to spring up in major cities, followed by more affordable Japanese restaurants serving a medicinal beef stew that would eventually become known as sukiyaki. In modern times, the Japanese consume almost as much meat as they do fish. Despite the fact that it took several decades, meat is now considered to be on par with sushi in Japanese cuisine.

Conclussion

Pork is the most popular meat in Japan, followed by chicken and beef. As of 2019, Japanese people eat only 0.1 kg of horse meat per person per year. Japan also consumes mutton, lamb, venison, wild boar, turkey, duck meat, quail, and other meats. The Japanese never eat dogs, cats, or monkeys. Japan has always relied on fish and seafood as staples of its diet. Plus, many believed “that one reason why the Japanese had poor physiques compared to Westerners was that they did not eat meat or dairy products,” writes Ishige.

Meat is as much a part of Japanese cuisine as sushi. Pork is the most commonly consumed meat in Japan, followed by chicken and poultry. In Japan, beef ranks third on the list of most popular meats. Horse meat is consumed as a delicacy in some parts of Japan as part of the local cuisine and culture. The average Japanese person consumes only 0.1 kg of food per year; the proportion of people who are self-sufficient is approximately 40%.

Meat consumption has been considered taboo for more than 12 centuries in Japan. The arrival of Buddhism from Korea in the 6th century marked the beginning of Japan’s transition away from meat consumption. The type of meat that Japanese people eat, as well as the amount of meat they consume

Raising animals is a resource-intensive endeavor, which is why Japanese farmers working in their mountainous island nation’s limited space have largely avoided it. The Japanese government wanted to bring their two-hundred-year period of isolation to an end and to adopt Western practices and technology as quickly as possible. As Japan became more open to the outside world, it began incorporating meat-based dishes from Korea, China, and the Western world.

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