The term “Wagyu” mean Japanese Cow. Wagyu is celebrated for it’s heavy marbling and melt in your mouth texture. Raising Wagyu is still a traditional activity in Japan. The wagyu have their hair brushed in many farms which have lead to many people believing they receive massages. They are kept in low stress environments and much of the techniques used to raise the Wagyu are closely guarded secrets. Japan banned the export of wagyu prior to 2012. So no restaurant in the United States actually sold “Kobe Beef” or “Japanese Wagyu” prior to that year. Kobe Beef is currently only available at eight restaurants in the US. Beef labeled “Kobe” must be born, raised, and slaughtered in the Hyogo prefecture which Kobe is the capital.
Today there are five countries where Wagyu is raised: Japan, Australia, United States, Canada, and the UK.
So What’s the difference? The short answer is they are all imitations of the Japanese Wagyu.
The Japanese grading system has a marble score (1-12) and an overall grade with A5 being the highest.
Most American Wagyu is either sold as Gold Grade or Black Grade.
The Australian Grading system is similar to the Japanese system but they do not do an overall grade.