Miso culture


Miso paste and soup

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: See below
***** Category: Humanity


click for more Japanese photos CLICK for more ENGLISH information

. temae miso 手前味噌 home-made miso paste .

Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese food produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin (麹菌, koojikin) (the most typical miso is made with soy). The typical result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called Misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple.

High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savoury, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.

mugi (麦): barley, mugi-miso, Gerste-Miso
tsubu (粒): whole wheat/barley
aka (赤): red, medium flavor, most commonly used
hatchō, hatchoo (八丁): aged (or smoked), strongest flavor
shiro (白): rice, sweet white, fresh
shinshu: rice, brown color
genmai (玄米): brown rice
awase (合わせ): layered, typically in supermarket
moromi (醪): chunky, healthy (kōji is unblended)
nanban (南蛮): chunky, sweet, for dipping sauce
inaka (田舎): farmstyle
taima (大麻): hemp seed
sobamugi (蕎麦): buckwheat
hadakamugi (裸麦): rye
meri (蘇鉄): made from cycad pulp, Buddhist temple diet
gokoku (五穀): "5 grain": soy, wheat, barley, proso millet, and foxtail millet

Many regions have their own specific variation on the miso standard. For example, the soybeans used in Sendai miso are much more coarsely mashed than in normal soy miso.
Saikyoo さいきょうみそ (西京味噌) white sweet miso from Western Kyoto

Miso made with rice (including shinshu and shiro miso) is called kome miso.

Soya miso is used to make a type of pickle called "misozuke".
These pickles are typically made from cucumber, daikon, hakusai, or eggplant, and are sweeter and less salty than the standard Japanese salt pickle. Barley miso, or nukamiso (糠味噌, nukamiso), is used to make another type of pickle. Nukamiso is a fermented product, and considered a type of miso in Japanese culture and linguistics, but does not contain soya, and so is functionally quite different. Like soya miso, nukamiso is fermented using kōji mold.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

akamiso, red miso, about 70% soybeans and 30% rice or barley

amamiso あまみそ / 甘みそ sweet miso 
Usually made from kome kooji and less salt added. For example the white miso from Kyoto and Hiroshima. Edo Amamiso. Used often for nerimiso to mix with other foods.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
shiso-iri amamiso しそ入りあまみそ with perilla leaves

Kinzanji miso, 径山寺味噌/ 金山寺味噌 with fermented vegetables and ginger
(originates in China at the mountain temple, brought back by monk Kakushin during the Kamakura period and started producing it at Yuasa, Kishuu province.

kuro-miso, 黒味噌 black miso. not very common
Kyozakura miso, red miso from Kyoto
namemiso, "finger licking" miso
nerimiso, sweet simmered miso
nukamiso, Reiskleien-Miso
nukamiso zuke, in Reiskleien-Miso Eingelegtes

koji, kooji 麹 fermentation starter for miso

different tasts with miso
goma-miso mit geriebenem Sesam
karashi-miso mit scharfem japanischem Senf
kurumi-miso mit Walnusspaste
negi-miso mit Lauch
neri-miso, „gerührte Miso“. Miso-Paste wird mit Reiswein, Zucker und Wasser aufgerührt.
su-miso mit Essig
yuzu-miso mit Yuzu-Zitronen

ninniku miso くにんにく味噌 / miso ninniku 味噌ニンニク
miso paste mixed with garlic
genki miso 元気みそ "healthy miso" with a lot of garlic
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

sannenmiso さんねんみそ【三年味噌】three year old miso paste
drei Jahre alte Miso-Paste
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Shoodai miso 招提味噌 Shodai Miso from the temple Toshodaiji 唐招提寺.
It has been introduced by the Chinese priest Ganjin.
also gyoohoo miso 行法味噌 from the temple Nigatsu-Do at Todaiji.
Some vegetables are pickled with this miso and it can be eaten on rice just like that to make a meal for the monks.

tamamiso, tama miso 玉味噌 white Kyoto miso mixed with egg yolk
can be used as sauce on tofu or other dishes, even on Ramen soup.
For special flavor, the egg yolks of quail eggs are used.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Echigo-miso, Miso aus der Gegend Echigo.
sanshuu miso 三州味噌 eine Hatchoo-miso

Handgemachte Miso aus Sendai
In alten Fässern, die mehr als 200 Jahre alt sind, haften an der Innenseite die Hefepilze. Die Miso wird mindestens sechs mal von einem Fass in ein anderes umgeschöpft, eine schwere Kraftarbeit, bei der der Schaufler in einem kleinen „Holzschiff“ mitten im Fass steht.

Miso sommelier Toyoko Miyoko  
Miso in Kameido, Tokyo.


The Book of Miso:
Savory High protein Seasoning

by William Shurtleff

CLICK for more information


Miso Dengaku Dengaku ... 田楽 (でんがく) and tsukemono pickles
gebratener Tofu oder Fisch mit Miso

dengaku sashi, Aufspießen wie Schaschlik
dengaku tofu, mit Miso bedeckter und auf Spießen gebackener Tofu

Dengaku, a food and a dance

Miso Dengaku dishes from Edo
100 Favorite Dishes of Edo


The most famous dish with miso is of course the
MISO SOUP, misojiru 味噌汁 。 みそじる
misoshiru, o-misoshiru おみそしる, misoshiro
Miso Suppe

The most common miso soup preparations

Asarijiru with asari clams, short-neck clam; baby-necked clam; littleneck clam
Gobojiru, goboo burdock
Gojiru 呉汁 with soy beans from Hokkaido
Hakusaijiru with Chinese cabbage, napa
Hoorenso to kakitamago, spinach and egg
Hotatejiru with scallop. Miso from Tsugaru
Junsaijiru with water shield
Kanijiru with crab meat. miso from Kaga
Komatsunajiru with komatsuna vegetables
Kuzushidofu with tofu and vegetables
Kyoofuu, Kyofu style of Kyoto
Mugimiso with barley
Naganegi to abura-age, leek and deep-fried tofu
Namekojiru with nameko mushrooms, akadashi miso
Nasujiru with eggplant
Nattojiru with natto fermented beans
Shijimijiru 蜆汁 with shijimi clams, akadashi
Shiromisojiro, white miso paste
Tonjiru with pork meat

and many many more

shijimijiru 蜆汁, しじみ汁 miso with corbicula clams


preparing homemade miso paste,
boiling beans for miso
miso mame niru 味噌豆煮る (みそまめにる)
kigo for early spring

ball of miso paste 味噌玉(みそだま)
miso fumitsumago 味噌踏みつまご(みそふみつまご)
boots for stamping on miso paste

In olden times, many rural homes made their own miso paste. In our modern day with maschinery to do the job, this is not so common any more.

CLICK for more photos I remember well helping my neighbour with this each year in February. We made balls of the paste and put it in an earthen jar. It then had to be pressed strongly to get the air out of the pot.
Another form of doing this is to put the paste on a wooden floor, wear straw boots and stamp on it with your feet.
In some areas the paste was then formed into balls and hung from the eaves to dry. When it became autumn, these balls were taken down, split into small pieces and added with salt and yeast (kooji) to prepare the final miso paste.


Hooba miso 朴葉(ほおば)みそ, 朴葉みそ
miso with hooba leaves
from Gifu
often served with Hida beef

CLICK for more Photos

hooba miso, Hoba Miso ほうばみそ miso paste served on a hoba leaf
hooba 朴葉 ... Magnolia obovata


hatchoo miso 八丁味噌 "eighth street miso"
from Ozaki

Hatcho Miso has a unique flavour which is made from high-quality soybeans, salt and water. Cooked and mashed soybeans are shaped into small balls and mixed with salty water. Then the Miso ferments for 3 winters. Hatcho Miso is made by the Hatcho Miso Company in Hatcho (Eighth street), to the west of Okazaki castle. The name Hatcho is taken from this location. In the Meiji era, Hatcho Miso became the daily choice of the Emperor of Japan.

Hatcho Miso is less in water and salt content. It is easy to digest due to the aminolysis of the soy protein and is high in vitamins and minerals. Hatcho Miso is a natural food since neither food additives nor pasteurisation is used. Miso has yeast fungi which need carbohydrates, the right temperature and enzymes. Summer in the Tokai area(the middle part of Japan) is hot and the hot weather accelerates yeast fungi fermentation very quickly in kome (rice)-miso or mugi (barley)-miso. Thus Hatcho Miso developed mame (beans)-miso which contains less carbohydrates and tolerates the hot weather much better. Hatcho Miso was Tokugawa Ieyasu's favourite and his armies were supplied with the miso because it can be stored for quite a while and can be portable due to its reduced water content. It also has been taken on Japanese expeditions to the South Pole.

Hatcho is the place where Hatcho Miso originated and it is "hatcho= eight cho"(cho is an old unit of length used in Japan to measure distance: one cho is equal to 108 metres) away from Okazaki castle where Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Edo feudal government, lived. The Hatcho is located on the banks of the Yahagi River, as it was easy to transport soybeans and sea salt there. Also Hatcho is the best place where high-quality springwater is easily accessible from the granitoid ground in Okazaki and is endowed with the right temperature and suitable humidity in order to make Hatcho Miso. Yahagi soybeans or Nanbu soybeans (Touhoku) and Aiba salt (Kira at the mouth of Yahagi River) were mainly used back then, however currently the ingredients are from all over the nation such as soybeans from Hokkaido and sea salt from Okinawa.

Salt, lumber for miso vats (considered to be Yoshino cedar) and river stones for piling on miso were transported by ship. Half a shipful of salt was unloaded at this place and the rest was carried to Asuke at the upper reaches of the Yahagi River. The salt was transported on foot or by horse from there to Shiojiri along a road called "shio no michi (The road of salt)". Then the empty ship was loaded with a lot of river stones and brought them back to Hatcho. Thus the river stones used currently are from Asuke. It was paid for by miso as a replacement for money and the ship owner left acertain amount of miso for himself and sold the rest in Osaka or Edo.

We come back to the Hatcho Miso.
Savory Hatcho Miso was well appreciated by Tokugawa's armies due to its mobility and long storage resulted from less salt content. Hatcho Miso spread throughout Edo (now Tokyo) as Tokugawa moved the capital to Edo. It also spread throughout the country due to feudal lords' Mandatory Alternate Residence System in Edo. Nevertheless Hatcho Miso currently holds only a10% share whereas kome-miso (rice miso) takes about 80%. The first biggest damage to Hatcho Miso was because of the Tokyo Earthquake in 1923. White kome-miso was brought from Nagano prefecture in relief supplies to help out victims. Furthermore, the Second World War made Hatcho Miso almost completely disappear by bringing kome-miso into the Kanto area as relief supplies. Although Hatcho Miso disappeared, it got the right to supply the Japanese royal family in 1892 and became the daily choice of the Emperor. Even though the system was abolished in 1954, Hatcho Miso is still the Emperor's favorite miso.

"Akadashi Hatcho Miso" is a combination of Hatcho Miso and shiro-miso.
"Tamari" is a fallout of Hatcho Miso. Tamari is the liquid piled up on top of Hatcho Miso during fermentation. It is preferred in the place where mame-miso is eaten.

Much more is here
source : www.yamasa.org

Hatcho Miso Kyarameru 八丁味噌キャラメル Caramels
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Hatchoo Miso Aisu 八丁味噌アイス icecream, Miso ice cream
. . . CLICK here for Photos !



mukashimiso, mukashi miso 昔みそ "Miso like in olden times"
prepared by a family in Nerima, Tokyo
in the old style, whith Japanese ingredients and all made by hand.


tekkamiso, tekka miso てっかみそ【鉄火味噌】 "red hot miso"
red Hatcho miso, mixed with roasted soy beans and chopped burdock or carrots, fried in oil, with sugar, mirin and chili peppers added.
Yamanashi prefecture
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
it is often prepared to eat on top of a bowl of rice or sold in glas bottles.
Reference : Tekka Miso Condiment

Worldwide use

das Miso
Paste aus vergorenen Sojabohnen
in Miso Eingelegtes (misozuke)
Miso-Seiher (misokoshi)

Mamemiso, das nur aus Sojabohnen,
Komemiso, das aus Sojabohnen und Reis und
Mugimiso, das aus Sojabohnen und Gerste besteht.

wikipedia : Soyabohnenpaste

miso mo fun mo issho ni suru
miso mo kuso mo issho de aru
Gutes und Schlechtes durcheinander mischen.
lit. Miso und Kacke durcheinander mischen.


Miso Minzokugaku 民俗学研究 Volkskunde


Shiga ken, Takashima town 滋賀県高島市

Am Tag des Hasen (u no hi) und des Drachen (tatsu no hi) darf man keine Miso machen.

Hyogo prefecture

巳の日 Tag der Schlange im Juni
Miyagi prefecture

Hyogo prefecture

山の婆 The old mountain witch and one grain of miso
Iwate prefecture

Shamoji rock 杓子岩
Okayama prefecture

Things found on the way

Miso paste called DARUMA

CLICK for original LINK
from Fukui, Onoya 平成大野屋

. "Lucky Ears" (fukumimi 福耳) Miso .


soba miso そば味噌
with a Daruma Label !


Miso Jizoo, the Bean Paste Jizo
みそ地蔵, ミソ地蔵, 味噌地蔵


kangiku ya ko nuka no kakaru usu no hata - (konuka)

chrysanthemums in the cold -
from the edge of a millstone
rice bran spills over

Tr. Gabi Greve

- Further discussion of this hokku :
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

. fuyugiku 冬菊 winter chrysanthemum .


. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

your own soybean paste is the only one that doesn't stink like soybean paste --

soba-guni no tan wo kiritsutsu tsukimi kana

flying high praising
local buckwheat noodles
they view the moon

Tr. Chris Drake

The proverb given in the headnote refers to the strong smell or mild stink given off by the fermented soybeans used to make miso beanpaste. Most people I know do not like this stink, which these days is reduced by various styles of processing. Thus the proverb is saying that people only smell the stink of others' bean paste and think the stink of their own bean paste is pleasingly fragrant. This proverb is of course used to refer to self-centeredness, egoism, following self-interest, and so on
. Chris Drake - comments on this Issa Haiku .

. WKD : Buckwheat noodles (soba 蕎麦) .


フウフする 夫婦仲良く お味噌汁
fuufu suru fuufu nakayoku o-misoshiru

blowing it cool -
the old couple slurping
miso soup

Gabi Greve 2005
Couple's Day, Februaray 2


a haiku blog basically, by ALISON
miso soup

haiku talk -
the orange juice comes with
or without bits


Daruma Miso from Kochi

source : kochilove.blog95

. Daruma from Kochi .

Related words

***** Tofu (toofu), bean curd Japan

***** Yumiso 柚味噌 (ゆみそ) miso with yuzu citron



Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Haiku by Matsuo Basho :

aki no iro nukamiso tsubo mo nakari keri

not even a pot
in the colors of autumn
for fermented miso

Kenko did not have much possesions, some say only one pot to wash his hands and take his meal. He kept this possession on his daily walks praying for food.
Discussing this hokku

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

kangiku ya / ko nuka no kakaru / usu no hata

Matsuo Basho

Anonymous said...

Maximizing Umami and Inspiring Creativity
Shio Koji (Salt Koji)

Japanese people really understand that the fermentation process creates an indescribably savory flavor, and they are masters of making good use of this flavor, which is called umami. This explains the fact that the staple seasonings for Japanese cuisine, soy sauce, miso, sake, mirin and rice vinegar, are all fermented products. The ingredient currently sweeping the Japanese culinary scene from home cooking to the food service industry is also the product of fermentation.

Although it is a tradional seasoning that has been used in some regions in Japan for centuries, “shio koji” has become well known nationwide quite recently. Made simply from rice koji, salt and water, shio koji magically enhances the umami of the ingredients that it’s used with, as well as gives subtle, elegant umami and a touch of sweetness to a dish without overpowering its main ingredients. It’s used just like other Japanese seasonings in sautéed dishes, simmered dishes, pickles, and as dressings and marinade sauces. Shio koji is tasty and versatile for use in cooking, but another reason for its recent popularity is that it’s also nutritious. Through the fermenting process, it increases the amount of vitamin B1, B2, B6, H and Pateton acid. The Vitamin B group helps you to recover from fatigue, so it’s perfect when you feel summer lethargy. Also, shio koji has a fair amount of lactic acid, which is known to be effective for intestinal disorders. All nine essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body are also contained in shio koji. It is a healthy substitute for salt. Since it’s easily made at home, you can try incorporating shio koji into your regular cooking repertoire. We will introduce how to make shio koji and examples of dishes using shio koji.


Anonymous said...

Pinch of magic revives traditional ‘koji’ maker
Centuries-old family business ferments taste success of past

OITA – Close to calling it quits six years ago after more than 320 years in business, a small producer and retailer of “koji” in Saiki, Oita Prefecture, is now thriving thanks to a flood of orders for a “magical ingredient” — a salted (“shio”) version of the traditional fermented seasoning made from rice malt.

Used for centuries in Japan to produce healthy fermented food products such as soy sauce and miso, the use of koji has been on the decline as a result of changes in the Japanese diet.

According to government data, the per capita consumption of miso plunged to 2,016 grams in 2011 from 3,960 grams in 1970 and that of soy sauce fell to 6.5 liters from more than 10 liters.

Plummeting demand for koji dealt a near fatal blow to Kojiya Honten, forcing 88-year-old Koichi Asari, the eighth owner of the store, to seriously consider pulling the plug on the business.

Asari’s eldest daughter, Myoho, 60, strove to turn the family business around as the ninth owner but everything she tried failed, such as selling other products like shaved ice.


While desperately trying to revive the family business, Myoho came across the term “shio koji zuke” (pickled with shio koji) in a book from the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Taking cues from the book, Myoho developed easy-to-use seasonings combining koji, salt and water.

As the popularity of the seasonings grew, Myoho began to be invited to cooking seminars across Japan, where she attracted followers with her natural smile. Bookstores began to feature books on shio koji, while television stations and magazine publishers covered it as well.

As a result, Kojiya Honten was flooded with orders for shio koji.


Gabi Greve - WKD said...

shigiyaki ya katei saien temae miso

fried eggplants -
our family vegetable garden
and home-made miso

Nakamura Atsuko 中村温子
temae miso

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Matsunoo Taisha 松尾大社 Matsunoo Grand Shrine
Matsuno'o Taisha
sake brewing and miso


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

仙人みそ Sennin Miso paste.
道の駅「久米の里」Roadside station Kume-no-sato
563-1 Miyao, Tsuyama, Okayama

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Oita 速見郡 Hayami district .....
日出町 Hiji town

The 16th day of the New Year and the O-Bon festival in August are festival days for Yamanokami.
In the morning people are not allowed to go into the forest.
In the afternoon they might go, but if the smell of 味噌汁 miso soup comes into the nose of Yamanokami, this person will die within the year.
12 legends to explore

Gabi Greve said...

Saga 佐賀県 Legend
東松浦郡 Higashimatsuura district 鎮西町 Chinzei town

On the second day of the 12th lunar month, the regional Yamanokami have a meeting and do the washing.
They also count the mountains, so humans are not allowed to go there on this day.
If people cook 味噌汁 miso soup on this day and smell of Miso while walking outside, they will get ill.
Yamanokami does not like the smell of Miso soup.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Yamagata 西村山郡

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Yamagata 西村山郡
Yamanokami is a female deity with three daughters.
When they are about to die, she gives them special food. For example cooked rice with osuge おずけ (local name of 味噌汁 miso soup) poured over it.
Others say they do not serve Osuge, because they will get hungry from it.
If workers go to the forest and eat rice with miso soup poured over it, they will get injured.
To eat rice with soup, people put the soup in first and then the rice.

Gabi Greve said...

Miso legend from Kyoto
yoobutsu 妖物 a monster
Once a Samurai heard the story of a strange monster in 33 colors at 三十三間堂 the Sanjusangendo Hall.
He went there to have a look and saw oni 鬼 a demon and aonyuudoo 青入道 Ao-Nyudo, a blue Nyudo monster.
He was not afraid and asked them to change shapes as a snack for the Sake rice wine he had brought with him.
The monster turned into yakimiso 焼き味噌 grilled Miso paste.
The Samurai put it into his mouth and swallowed it. And thus the monster was gone.