(5) SOY SAUCE EXPERIENCE
The production of soy sauce on Shodoshima began in the latter half of the Edo period (1603–1867), when a nationwide oversupply of salt forced local producers to pursue alternative means of subsistence. The industry experienced its greatest period of prosperity around the turn of the twentieth century, when up to 400 soy sauce breweries operated on the island. About 20 of these remain in business today. Most of the breweries are located in an area called Hishio no Sato, where the unmistakable aroma of soy sauce wafts over the neighborhood.
Shodoshima soy sauce is fermented in wooden barrels called koga, in which the microbes that give the product its distinctive taste live. Though most factories elsewhere now make their soy sauce in stainless steel tanks, the brewers of Shodoshima have kept to their koga, of which there are about 1,000 on the island. That is thought to be around half of all such barrels still in use throughout Japan. Soy sauce is used extensively in Japanese cooking, including in the making of tsukudani, which is small pieces of seaweed, fish, or vegetables simmered in soy sauce, sugar, and mirin (sweet cooking wine). A popular condiment often eaten with rice, tsukudani is made by a number of local companies and is widely available on the island.
* Our TGA students will take a tour of the breweries run by soy sauce producers Marukin and Yamaroku. Many breweries in Soy Sauce Village sell sweets made with soy sauce, such as soy sauce soft-serve ice cream (We will give it a try!).