Corporate enfant terrible, Takafumi Horie, built one of Japan's most successful internet businesses, stood for the Diet, went to prison and started a space company that aims to put the country's first privately funded rocket into orbit. Now he has a new frontier: cattle.

The founder of Interstellar Technologies has teamed up with his friend, Hisato Hamada, to form Wagyumafia, which brands, promotes and distributes wagyu beef. Horie, 44, compares the soft, fatty meat with Domaine Romanée-Conti, a wine estate in Burgundy, France, that has built its brand into one of the most expensive in the world.

"While wagyu is as scarce as good Burgundy, it has been sold cheaply by JA," said Horie, referring to Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, the nation's largest farmers' group. "I'm confident that the beef can be sold at much higher prices in global markets."