Five Generations of Making Soy Sauce the Traditional Way

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Japanese shoyu, or soy sauce, was traditionally brewed in vats over two years in a process that dates back to the 7th century. Over the past 60 years, global demand gave way to industrialization, and today less than one percent of shoyu is produced in the old way.

But on the island of Shōdoshima, Yasuo Yamamoto ferments soy beans traditionally in bamboo barrels similar to the ones his family has built for the past 150 years. And while it takes four times longer than the modern way to produce, the results are undeniably delicious. Let’s have a taste.

Shodoshima Island is the largest production area of soy sauce produced by using wooden barrels.” Yeasts and lactic bacteria that have resided in the barrel over the centuries cultivate soy sauce by their fermentation force in a slow manner. The soy sauce brewed is full-bodied with its taste and aroma.

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“Each brewery barrel has different bacteria, so the soy sauce tastes different depending on each barrel even though applying the same brewery method. But this makes soy sauce production quite interesting as well.” Soy sauce production of Shodoshima Island lives in harmony with nature.

Shodoshima, especially this part of the island, is renowned for its shoyu (soy sauce) breweries, as it has been a major producer of soy sauce for more than 400 years. With industrialization, soy sauce production became modernized in Japan, and one of the main changes was to shift from wooden barrel to stainless steel. Nowadays, less than 1% of soy sauce breweries in Japan still use wooden barrels .

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