Kawai Family Butcher’s


Kawai Family Butchers is, as its name suggests, a family run business, now in its fourth generation of ownership. Dating back to 1926 we have witnessed an explosion in popularity of Wagyu beef both domestically, and internationally. The market has grown exponentially. We have also witnessed the perceived friction between traditional farming methods and modern production techniques, as if they are inherently opposing impulses. At Kawai Meat Corp we see things a little differently. Rather than looking at modernity and tradition as diametrically opposed we see them as part of the same continuum.


Our company has spanned almost a Century. We have seen huge advances in agricultural technology and meat processing during this time. And we have adopted them where they make sense in delivering the highest possible quality to our customers. Our production facility boasts the latest innovation in cleanliness, production and refrigeration. It looks more like a medical operating theater than a butcher shop! But at the same time the cattle we source live a natural life, reared in the Kagawa prefecture.


In many ways the pastoral life of the popular imagination still exist here. Calf and mother can be seen frolicking upon misty fields in the morning light. The cattle enjoy a pampered, languid life, quite unlike their ancestors that were principally used as draft animals. At KFB we marry traditional techniques with modern technology. Our beef reflects both a storied tradition of Wagyu breeding, and also the next chapter in the illustrious breeds history. For instance at the Wagyu Olympics in 2017 olive fed Wagyu from Shodoshima island won a special award for the quality and luster of fat.


Our Family History

Our business was founded in Osaka in 1926 by Kumataro Kawai who gave up a career as a carpenter to open Kawai Butchers, selling meat directly to consumers. Following the Second World War he moved to Kagawa prefecture and opened up a butcher shop in the prestigious Ritsurin-cho in Takamatsu city. The company enjoyed success and by 1952 Masao Kawai, the son of Kuamataro, became the president of the newly incorporated company.

In 1968 Masao’s son Masahiro joined the company, eventually taking the chairman’s position in 1982. Masahiro studied meat science at Ohio State University in the USA, and he applied this knowledge to traditional Japanese farming techniques. This included building new processing facilities in the mid 1990’s that have constantly been upgraded to the latest state of the art technologies. The company went from strength to strength in the new century, growing both the retail and wholesale business.

In 2014 brothers Shinichiro and Kotaro Kawai assumed the positions of President and Vice President respectively, continuing the proud family tradition. As with every generation they created new innovations and opportunities for the company. This includes being the first company to export Olive Fed Wagyu beef abroad. In 2017 Olive Fed Wagyu from Shodoshima Island won a special award at the Wagyu Olympics exposition. In 2020 the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recognized KFB for their efforts in promoting agriculture in Kagawa. In 2021, Kawai obtained Organic JAS certification for all their meat processed products.

What is Wagyu?


Wagyu translates to “Japanese cow” and refers to any one of four breeds that includes brown (sometimes referred to as red) and black hided animals, as well as a polled (hornless) and horned cattle. The breeds are renowned for their high degree of intramuscular fat (the fat found within muscle, referred to as marbling), elaborate rearing procedures, and high price.

Through selective breeding wagyu cattle have been developed to exhibit specific traits. Most obvious amongst these traits is the high degree of marbling the meat exhibits. But the nature of the fat itself is also important. The fat from the various Wagyu breeds has a very low melting point — it literally melts in your hand, let alone your mouth, giving it a unique taste and texture. The fat, known as “sashi” in Japan, is also distinct from American beef in that it is primarily monounsaturated, making it lower in cholesterol, with traits similar to olive oil.


Japanese beef is graded for quality in a way similar to the way that US domestic beef is categorized by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). But while consumers in the US see beef broken down into three main classes — Prime, Select, and Choice based primarily on marbling — Japanese beef is graded using a far more complex system. This involves a matrix that assigns a letter grade for yield, with A being the highest of three classes; as well as a numeric quality grade that takes in account factors like marbling, color and brightness of flesh, the color, luster and quality of the fat, and overall firmness and texture; with each category assigned a score from one to five, the latter being considered the highest grade.

Within the marbling score, also known as the beef marbling standard (BMS), there is a further breakdown with 12 grades that describe the amount of intramuscular fat. Under this system A5 is the highest grade of beef attainable, but even within this grade there is the further distinction of the BMS, which in this class ranges from eight to 12 points, with the latter being the most marbled.


Our Beef

At Kawai Family Butchers we hand select every piece of beef that bears our seal. While the Japanese grading system is incredibly intricate and exacting, we strive for an even higher standard. One that leverages the grading system but also employs our decades of professional experience. Our institutional memory is also our family history.

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