You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!

There is a very special restaurant on Ama, the island closest to Chibu. The sign outside reads, “Island born, island raised. Oki Beef Shop.” The beef served there is said to be even better than Kobe beef, the delicately marbled beef from Hyogo prefecture.

The cows that dot the hills of the Oki islands are kept to produce calves that are sold to ranchers throughout Japan. It is said that the calves from Oki are some of the most expensive in the country. Many are even sold to ranchers in Kobe and are later sold as Kobe beef.

Some of the cows, however, are kept in Oki and raised to adulthood. I’ve heard from several people that Oki beef is even better than Kobe beef because Oki cows feed on grass that is salted by the sea breezes. Of course, I hear this from people who live in Oki, so, if you’ll excuse the pun, I always take this with a pinch of salt!

On my most recent visit to the Oki beef shop, I ordered the yakiniku (grilled meat) lunch set.  Here it is, raw and ready to go:




Not only was the food delicious, the dishes used to plate the food were beautiful:




Mouthwateringly delicious, aesthetically pleasing; that lunch had it all. Even if Oki beef isn’t as good as Kobe beef, it’s still pretty darn tasty and the fat is just as marbled. To me, though, Oki beef will always be better because it’s born and raised right here in my second home.

Michelle is originally from California, but currently lives in the tiny fishing village of Chibu, one of the Oki islands in Japan. Being one of two foreigners living in an island village of a little over 600 people presents many adventures. Come back next week for a new article featuring the interesting and bizarre things she comes across in her life in rural Japan. Once a week not enough? Check out her blog, You, Me, And A Tanuki, for photographs and even more articles.