Meet Japan’s Ultimate "Shokunin" Farmer — Akio Kato of Kato Gyu

By Joe Heitzeberg - Co-founder and CEO of Crowd Cow. I'm on Instagram at @jheitzeb.

"Shokunin" is a Japanese word without a direct English translation. The closest is “craftsman” or “master of one’s profession”, but these simplistic translations miss a deeper devotion and dedication — over many years — to reach a certain perfect command over one’s area of obsession.

To hear stories of how bullet trains in Japan operate with an average departure delay that’s less than 18 seconds or that Japan’s pizzas might now be better than Italy’s hints to the dogged pursuit of perfection and level of passion that is shokunin.

In Japan’s Wagyu world, one farmer stands out as perhaps the epitome of shokunin — Akio Kato of Kato Gyu, located in Ota City, Gunma Prefecture (available exclusively here).

In fact, Kato’s passion for his craft led him to grow his own corn used to feed his herd — an extreme level of quality control almost unheard of in Japan or anywhere else.

This sense of pride and “craftsmen’s spirit” engrained in Kato’s work drives his discipline, and as a result, he’s won more than 100 awards for his A5 Wagyu, including National Farm of the Year. Kato Farm is Japan’s most award-winning, single-origin Wagyu Farm — producing otherworldly A5 BMS 12 cuts, the highest grade of beef in the world.  

If you’re in Japan, you’ll find Kato Gyu on the menu at a handful of some of Japan’s very best steakhouses. And if you’re in the USA, you’ll find it exclusively on Crowd Cow.

Available now: Japanese A5 Wagyu

Crowd Cow works directly with some of the best Wagyu farms in Japan.


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