soy sauce local tamari soy sauce

Soy sauce in Gujo “Local tamari” is made by unique method with unique ingredients making the smell and flavor stronger.

Actually, soy sauce is regulated by the Japanese Agricultural Standards Law. Color, smell and flavor of soy sauce making all over Japan need to maintain the same standard. It is rare that this region makes their own unique soy sauce.

When I am wondering if they make their own tamari soy sauce in Gujo, tastes from each family may vary. The local people recommend us to visit a Kuramoto (Brewery), Daikokuya, in Gujo Hachiman.

Get fascinated by their own preference inside the brewery

Get fascinated by their own preference inside the brewery

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Walking around Gujo Hachiman, seeing the clear stream flowing among the streets, you can find “Daikokuya” by its smell of soy sauce and miso.

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Miso and snacks using miso are available at the entrance. A young and mild-mannered Mr Hiroyuki Wada of the 4th generation comes and greets us.

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Mr Wada shows us around the brewery. We can sense the smell of soy sauce and miso becomes stronger and stronger and find 13 wooden buckets. “90% of soybean, making 2% of wheat and 8% of barley into koji and mix them with salt water. You need 1 to 1.5year for brewing naturally (In room temperature without heating). After brewing, dig a hole and scoop the soy sauce inside. The remaining becomes miso. Do you want to have a look?” Mr Wada said. I have never seen any mash like this. The ingredients, brewing method and mash here are so different from normal. I have so many questions and wonders inside my head.

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“Mixing soybean, wheat and barley all together to make koji? Why you use 8% of barley, isn’t it too much? How to make soy sauce and miso in the same bucket? The soybean remains the same shape! Isn’t time consuming making soy sauce without squeezing? The smell is so strong!” and many other things that concern me.

Dark soy sauce is made by soybean and wheat without barley. Tamari soy sauce is made by mixing 1~2% of roasted barley. So, adding 8% is a lot. Normal tamari soy sauce adds around 10% wheat, but we only add 2%. We use barley koji with boiled soybean for barley miso. Mr Wada says “We heard from many people and guessed the origin, but we are not sure. However, my experience tells me using both wheat and barley can make the taste deeper.”

Tamari soy sauce is the liquid coming out from miso. However, tamari soy sauce you can find in supermarket is actually not. Many of them added salt. “I do not know why, but this region makes tamari soy sauce in this way.” Both soy sauce and miso are made in the same bucket is very efficient in family base.

For both soy sauce and miso, soybean may crack or break when brewing. “But people love those remaining in round shape. So, we close the lid and wait for brewing without stirring the soybean. It will eventually turn into soy sauce.” Said Mr Wada.

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Dark soy sauce is usually squeezed from the mash of soy sauce. “We do not do this as this will crush the soybean. We stir it gently and scoop with a dipper.” They try their best to keep the shape of the soybean using their own unique method. Tub used at normal tamari soy sauce brewery usually has a tap for liquid to come out. But tubs here do not, because they are all from a sake brewery.

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“The characteristic of local miso is remaining the shape of soybean (See picture). This makes the smell of the soybean stronger and saltier. The texture is softer and mushy. At first, families used the barley grown on the footpath between fields to make koji. They found that they can make both soy sauce and miso at one time and continue this method till today. A tub of around 1 ton can only make 40L of soy sauce. The taste of miso will go worse if you make more. The quantity of tamari soy sauce is so little that they sold out very soon.”

if you change the procedure, you can definitely make more. But the people here still remain unchanged to keep this family base brewery. Although I have visited over 150 breweries, Daikokuya is the only one that keeps this homemade tradition. “There are other breweries making tamari soy sauce, but we are the only one that make in family base. We cannot produce in large amount and scooping takes time.” Despite all these, Mr Wada has no plan to change.

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Tasting local tamari soy sauce in Daikokuya’s way!

Tasting local tamari soy sauce in Daikokuya’s way!

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“We recommend to add 1~2 drops for sushi or cold tofu. Because the taste is strong, so you only need a bit of it. Many local people love it and many visitors become fans of local miso and then become fans of tamari soy sauce too. They say it smells good. Even people who seldom cook, they buy 5 bottles of 1L at one time. If you like bean miso, you will love it!”

When we arrived home, we bought one cheap tofu and one expensive tofu for experience.

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Add 1 drop of tamari soy sauce, the cheap one remains having a strong raw smell of tofu. But the expensive one becomes even better. The taste of soybean gets richer. The balance turns better.

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Next, we add 5 drops to the cheap tofu. The raw smell disappears. The good taste of soy sauce covers the smell of tofu. It transforms the cheap tofu into a delicious tofu! On the other hand, the flavor of the expensive one turns too strong. In conclusion, more tamari soy sauce for cheaper tofu and only 1~2 drops for more expensive one.

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The ingredients used and procedure of brewing of this “Gujo local tamari soy sauce” varies.

The one on the right is tamari soy sauce from Daikokuya, having a dark color. Comparing with normal tamari soy sauce, it tastes stronger and deeper with smell like dried mushroom and dried fruit. The salt taste is much stronger than you expected but is covered by tastiness and sweetness very soon.

The left one is local tamari soy sauce from another brewery in Gujo. The color is much lighter just like other light soy sauce. The taste is like that from Daikokuya but you can notice that fermentation is less, so the smell and flavor is weaker. It is saltier than it looks too.
(Ref Kagawa-ken Industrial Technology Center Fermented Food Research Institute)

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Follow the regulation of producing soy sauce is important, but it is so cool to have regional rare soy sauce. The weather, history and local ingredients and culture varies from regions making the local soy sauce more interesting. I would love to try more kinds of regional soy sauce.

Although Daikokuya is keeping the tradition, Mr Wada eagers to learn more, even from us. His effort to protect the tradition but acceptance of transformation.

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The quantity of Daikokuya’s local tamari soy sauce is very little, you need to visit Daikokuya to buy. They are on back order too. It is fun to visit and try local tamari soy sauce in Gujo. I think I will go and buy again very soon!

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A unit, to promote the food culture in Japan leading to the future in the next 100 years, is formed by husband “A farmer and a maltster” facing with the blessings of nature and wife “A soy sauce sommelier and designer”. They aim to introduce Japanese food culture with fermented food supported by agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Husband : Mr Takashi Miyamoto

He started a new koji venture in the Koji industry. He uses pesticide-free and chemical-free fertilizers in preparing miso. He was fascinated by the world of fermentation and started running a Koji shop in Nishihazu-cho, Nishio-shi, Aichi-ken. He also holds a Miso and Soysauce Study Circle for more than 1000 people a year.

Wife : Ms Keiko Kuroshima(Miyamoto)

A soy sauce, olive oil sommelier & designer. She was born in the soy sauce town of Shodoshima Island and grew up with the brewers. Based in Shodoshima, she continues to visit brewers nationwide and continues to connect people and things through design, writing, and recipe making. She published “Soy Sauce Book” from Genko Publishing.

Photographs by miyamoto