The Wagyu Olympics 2022: explanation and winners

For Japanese cattle farmers, the Wagyu Olympics is more than just a competition. It is a contest of honor, recognition and prestige. Let’s dive deeper into the story and discover everything there is to know about the Wagyu Olympics.

Picture of a Japanese A5 Wagyu ribeye steak


The basics of the Wagyu Olympics

The Wagyu Olympics, formally known as the Zenkyo Beef competition, is a contest that is held every five years in Japan since the year 1966. The show nearly attracts half a million people over the course of five days. All the Japanese prefectures come together to showcase the best beef there is to achieve. The contest is not organized between individual farms, instead it is held between the 41 prefectures (regions) of Japan. 

Japanese Kuroge cattle

The categories and components

There are two main categories covering the competition. First up is the ‘Breed Improvement’ category, where the jury assesses the exterior characteristics of competing cattle, including size, proportion and exterior appearance. This category is also known as the ‘Prime Minister's Award’. Secondly, the ‘Meat Quality’ category is rated, covering the meat quality and fat content. After the verdict is made, cattle are auctioned to the highest bidder. That implies the Wagyu Olympics covers two phases: competition and trade through auction.

The concept of Ikigai

Important concepts about life and improvement emerged from Japanese culture, such as Ikigai and Kaizen. Ikigai refers to the concept of getting up every morning and loving what you do, which is comparable to the English word ‘purpose’. Kaizen refers to continuously improving the things that you do. These two life concepts find themselves at the epicenter of the competition, where Japanese farmers continuously strive for the best product there is to achieve.

The prize

While there is no prize money issued to the winner, there are in fact a lot of benefits that the winning prefecture can count on. It is a great opportunity for lesser known prefectures to gain recognition, and at the same time a great opportunity for the more famous prefectures to solidify their status as leading Wagyu prefecture. Individual Wagyu brands from the winning prefecture see their stock rising as well, and they can expect an increase in sales and market prices for their Wagyu beef.

Picture of a Japanese Wagyu steak with Maldon salt flake box

Wagyu Olympics 2022 results

It was another great year for the two leading Wagyu prefectures. This year's edition of the Wagyu Olympics took place between 6 and 10 October 2022 in Kagoshima, located in southwestern Japan. The Prime Minister’s Award (covering the category ‘Beef Improvement’) went to the hosting Kagoshima prefecture, while the Miyazaki prefecture took home the ‘Meat Quality’ award. This year’s edition saw 300 thousand enthusiasts attending the event, with over 400 cattle entering the competition.


Miyazaki Wagyu steak next to the Miyazaki prefecture location on a Japanese map


Miyazaki Wagyu, the champion prefecture

Over the course of 20 years, the Miyazaki prefecture has evolved from a modest contender to a behemoth due to its consecutive wins at the Wagyu Olympics. Obtaining the first spot in this year’s competition for the category ‘Beef Quality’ is yet another fortification of their already stellar status in the world of Wagyu.


The Zenkyo Beef competition, better known as the Wagyu Olympics, is a true spectacle and a very important part of Japanese Wagyu culture. The art of the Wagyu craft is celebrated thoroughly and important concepts as Ikigai and Kaizen are relished deeply. 

Interested in purchasing this year’s Wagyu Olympics winners? Go ahead and purchase Kagoshima Wagyu here and Miyazaki Wagyu here.

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