Wagyu beef is known as the most delicious steak you’ll ever eat, but it also has a reputation for being extremely expensive. The price you’re paying isn’t just an extra cost, though, as it turns out that producing Wagyu beef is different from other types of meat that you would get at your local supermarket.

At the Japanese Wagyu Olympics, breeders can highlight the beauty, breeding, and other qualities of their cows. Winners have the opportunity to sell their cattle and carcasses to the best restaurants and butchers in the world for the highest price. Winning, however, is more than just competing; it also involves the Japanese concept of ikigai. “[Ikigai] is a deep sense of purpose; the reason for getting up every morning; that which gives one’s life much of its meaning,” said Andrea Fazzari, James Beard award-winning photographer, and author. The Olympics provide a platform for Wagyu beef farmers to show the results of their efforts to breed the best cow. Wagyu production involves a complicated process that includes genetic testing under government regulation. In addition, they go through a two-year process of fattening up until they have 50% fat mass in their bodies.

There is no such thing as absolute perfection. But because of the Japanese concept of ikigai, we also get to enjoy Wagyu beef’s fantastic flavor and quality.