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Matsumoto Craft Soy Sauce (Kawagoe City)

 

18 Mar 2018

Matsumoto Craft Soy Sauce has passed down the tradition of making soy sauce for over 250 years in Kawagoe, where the townscape is filled with traditional storehouses.

 

When making soy sauce, the most important assets are the passing down of storehouses and wooden barrels. For fermentation and ageing of soy sauce, microbes, such as Koji mould, lactic-acid bacteria, and yeast are essential. Storehouses and barrels that have been used in production for a long time develop an ecosystem of unique microbes. As a result, a particular taste of soy sauce can only be produced in a certain barrel and storehouse.

 

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Protecting the tradition of soy sauce that can only be produced here

Matsumoto Craft Soy Sauce originated in 1764 by a wealthy merchant named Yokota, who started production of soy sauce in Kawagoe. In 1831 the soy sauce storehouse and barrel that would become the current soy sauce production location was expanded. At that time the name of the era according to the traditional Japanese calendar was ‘Tenpo’, and therefore, the storehouse became known as the ‘Tenpo Storehouse’. In 1893, there was a large fire in the town that destroyed approximately one third of it. Fortunately, the Tenpo Storehouse and barrel survived the fire and have since become symbols of the shop.

 

Major soy sauce companies began to take over the town causing great hardship for many local breweries. At that time, President Kimio Matsumoto began to undertake new methods of soy sauce production, and eventually produced Saishikomi soy sauce, which was quite rare in the Kanto region. He decided to change the raw materials that were being used to produce soy sauce and changed from processed soy beans to unprocessed soy beans. Compared with dark soy sauce the ageing process takes twice as long to create Saishikomi soy sauce. As a result, the microbes used in Saishikomi soy sauce decompose protein creating a higher percentage of amino acids such as glutamic acid developing a stronger, more savoury flavoured soy sauce. Saishikomi soy sauce is mainly supported by high-end customers who account for 80 per cent of its sales. President Matsumoto has said the following in regards to what is most important at work. “It is important to move forward, while at the same time protect the traditional production methods. It’s better to progress slowly and use natural methods when making soy sauce rather than adding unnatural ingredients to speed up the process. It’s important to use the storehouse our ancestors left us for as long as possible and to protect it along the way.”

 

Manufacturing Process

1 – Making Koji (a special type of mould used to make soy sauce)

Microbes are planted on Kawagoe soy beans and Saitama Prefecture wheat and then stored in a special room for three days where the temperature and level of humidity are carefully managed.

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           President Matsumoto showing soy beans and wheat in front of the Koji room

 

2 – Fermentation and Ageing

In the Kanto region, the typical method for making dark soy sauce is mixing Koji mould with salt water and allowing it to age for one year. In the case of Saishikomi soy sauce, however, raw soy sauce that has already been allowed to age is mixed with Koji mould and allowed to age for another year. This grade of soy sauce is called ‘moromi’. When mixing (putting the oar in) the moromi and adding the proper amount of air into the microbes the experience of a craftsman is truly essential.

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           Taste-testing ‘moromi’ during the tour

 

3 – Straining

Once the ageing process has finished, ‘moromi’ is added to a compressor, which has a shape similar to a boat, and is wrapped with a cloth. Moromi is pressed and spread out in the compressor for 3 days to make soy sauce.

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           One piece of cloth is wrapped around 10 litres of moromi

 

4 – Pasteurization

After the straining process, the raw soy sauce contains impurities and the microbes are still living, so sterilization is necessary. Through pasteurization the flavour of soy sauce will also be enhanced.

 

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Access


  

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Address/How to access

〒350-0065 Kawagoe City, Nakacho 10-13

Approx. a 20 min walk from Kawagoe Station using JR Kawagoe Line or Tobu Tojo Line

Approx. a 10 min walk from Hon-Kawagoe Station using the Seibu Shinjuku Line

Approx. a 1 min walk from Nakacho bus stop using Tobu Bus

電話049-222-0432

Map

Google Map

Opening Hours

9:00~18:00

Official WEB

Japanese:https://www.hatsukari.co.jp/

English:https://www.hatsukari.co.jp/en/

Tour Dates and Times

Weekdays: 1pm

Weekends and holidays: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm

Please come to the shop at least 10 mins before the start of the tour.

Please note that tours will not be held during the Kawagoe Festival (Beginning of Oct.) and over the New Year’s Holiday Season.

Please note that the tour may be cancelled without prior notice due to circumstances beyond our control.

Tour Length

Approx. 20 mins

Tour Participants

Please note that there is no interpreter available.

Reservation Requirements

For less than 10 people no reservation is required.

For more than 10 people please call us to make arrangements first. 電話 049-222-0432

Office Hours: Weekdays 9am – 5pm Only

Minimum Number of Participants

One person

Maximum Number of Participants

40 people

Note

Participation in the tour is free of charge.Please make arrangements with us at the time of booking if a large tour bus will be used