State of the day
Now, let’s talk about the day of the auction. My role that day was to offer delicious Japanese croquettes and minced meat cutlets to people from all over the world.
I was excited and nervous, wondering if Japan’s meat shop soul food would be popular with people from around the world. The reason we had the opportunity to set up a booth was due to an idea and request from Mr. Hirai, the executive of Es Foods. He thought that if we provided food at the “Hanami Feast” where people can enjoy a meal while viewing the cherry blossoms blooming on the Ichikawa embankment, right beside the wagyu master, people would be happy.
We arrived around 10 a.m. to make sure we were ready for the 12:30 p.m. start. After setting up and checking our readiness, we greeted the other vendors. Today, there were vendors from ”Imahan” in Ningyocho and Wagyu Mafia, both in Tokyo. There were also local catering and soba shops, and everything was well-prepared. Sapporo and Kirin were among the drink vendors. With everything in order, I decided to go see how the auction was going. The Wagyu Master’s auction market can be watched in real time on the internet, but I wanted to feel the atmosphere on site. The venue was on the third floor, but access was from the fifth floor, where I saw security personnel. Government officials and members of parliament were coming to see this huge event, so there were security personnel stationed at key points. The SPs had their front buttons undone, probably to quickly draw their weapons in case of emergency. There were also several cars waiting, with their engines running, ready to leave at any time, providing a glimpse into VIP security that can only be seen in videos.
As the elevator doors opened towards the venue, the excitement could already be felt. In the midst of the guidance, cheers and applause erupted. Every time a bid was won, the buyer and their country were announced, and the level of excitement was unlike any other auction I had ever attended. A total of 100 cattle were up for auction. The department manager in charge mentioned that over 200 cattle were slaughtered and carefully selected for this auction. Additionally, the BMS (Beef Marbling Standard) fat marbling grades were all 12, the highest possible grade (over 70% of the total!). I could feel the determination and enthusiasm of the producers. Due to the overwhelming crowds, I couldn’t stay long and on my way out, I passed by the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and thought to myself, “Oh, that’s the person I saw on TV.” The auction, which showed an unprecedented scale, had finally come to an end.
Finally, it was my turn! One foreigner after another came in, and at first, they seemed a bit unsure of what to eat, but eventually they started choosing their own meals. Now, it was time to find out if our croquettes would be a hit. “What is this?” Finally, the first person asked me. “This is a dish called croquette. It’s a common food in Japanese butcher shops. We deep-fry Kobe beef and potatoes for this one,” I explained in my rudimentary English. They took it with an expression of “Hmm,” and brought it to their mouths.
Went my heartbeat, waiting for their reaction… “Amazing!!” We received the highest compliment possible. From then on, croquettes and minced cutlets were disappearing one after another.
As I was lost in deep-frying, a famous Japanese entrepreneur, Mr. Takafumi Horie, also known as “Horiemon,” returned from the auction and gathered a crowd in front of his own wagyu mafia. His famous beef cutlet sandwich priced at 20,000 yen was likely sold out quickly. While eating other vendors’ products, he was perfecting his catchphrase, “Iltuteraltusyai (Have a good one!)” As they passed by while we were eating our croquettes, I thought, “Oh, there goes that guy I saw on TV.” But I was too busy frying to care. The sales were going well, just as we had hoped. Our daily work was being appreciated by people from overseas. There is nothing more rewarding than that.
Behind the flashy auction, this event was a small satisfaction for Japanese butcher shops.