Shooyu ... Soy Sauce

. Legends about Soy Sauce .

Soy Sauce , Sojasoße, Sojasauce

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Humanity


making soy sauce, shooyu tsukuru
醤油作る (しょうゆつくる)
hishio tsukuru 醤作る (ひしおつくる)

kigo for late summer

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© PHOTO : shokubunka


Soy sauce is maybe the most important item on the Japanese table. Little flasks and containers to poor your own (see below) are the colorful addition to any table setting.

Many of my Japanese friends carry a bottle of their favorite brand when they travel abroad, and some even when they travel in Japan.


hishio is the base of soy sauce, prepared from fermented beans, rice, wheat, 麹 kooji yeast and other ingredients. It was a special food in the Heian period for the aristocracy, and only later became more widespread.
Saltwater is mixed to the soybeans and kooji to subpress unwanted bacteria and enhance the good bacteria. The mix is left standing for about one year before consumption.
Eaten like this on plain white rice it is a delicacy.
Today still prepared by hand in Choshi, Chiba prefecture.
醤司 : 室井 房治

. Kōjimachi (麹町 / 麴町 Kojimachi district in Edo .

History of Soy Sauce in Japan

Soy Beans as Kigo

kokubishio 穀醤(こくびしお) fermented grains and beans
kusabishio 草醤(くさびしお) fermented vegetables
shishibishio 肉醤(ししびしお) fermented meat
uobishio 魚醤(うおびしお)fermented fish

These are the Chinese predecessors since more than 2500 years ago of our HISHIO.
It was prepared in the imperial office for "fermentated food" 醤院(ひしおつかさ), hishiotsukasa.

Kinzanji miso 径山寺(きんざんじ)味噌 was brought back to Japan by the Zen monk Kakushin 覚心(かくしん) in 1254 and marked the beginning of miso making. Some farmers from Kishu village of Yuasa 湯浅の村 prepared the miso as he told them and found some liquid at the bottom of the barrels, they called tamari shooyu たまりしょうゆ.


Soy sauce (US) or soya sauce (Commonwealth) is a fermented sauce made from soybeans (soya beans), roasted grain, water and salt. Soy sauce was invented in China, where it has been used as a condiment for close to 2,500 years. In the 7th century, Buddhist monks introduced soy sauce into Japan where it is known as shoyu. The Japanese word "tamari" is derived from the verb "tamaru" that signifies "to accumulate," referring to the fact that tamari was traditionally produced as the liquid byproduct that was produced during the fermentation of miso. Japan is the leading producer of tamari. Soy sauce is used widely in East and Southeast Asian cuisines and appears in some Western cuisine dishes.

Authentic soy sauces are made by mixing the grain and/or soybeans with yeast or kōji (麹, the mold Aspergillus oryzae or A. sojae) and other related microorganisms. Traditionally soy sauces were fermented under natural conditions, such as in giant urns and under the sun, which was believed to contribute to additional flavours. Today, most of the commercially-produced counterparts are fermented under machine-controlled environments instead.

Although there are many types of soy sauce, all are salty and earthy-tasting brownish liquids used to season food while cooking or at the table. Soy sauce has a distinct basic taste called umami by the Japanese (鮮味, 鮮味 lit. "fresh taste").
Umami was first identified as a basic taste in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University. The free glutamates which naturally occur in soy sauce are what give it this taste quality.

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Koikuchi (濃口)
Originating in the Kantō region, its usage eventually spread all over Japan. Over 80% of the Japanese domestic soy sauce production is of koikuchi, and can be considered the typical Japanese soy sauce. It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat. This variety is also called kijōyu (生醤油) or namashōyu (生しょうゆ) when it is not pasteurized.

Usukuchi (淡口) "thin soy sauce"
Light-colored soy sauce. Particularly popular in the Kansai region of Japan, it is both saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi. The lighter color arises from the usage of amazake, a sweet liquid made from fermented rice, that is used in its production.

Tamari (たまり)
Produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, tamari is darker in appearance and richer in flavour than koikuchi. It contains little or no wheat; wheat-free tamari is popular among people eating a wheat free diet. It is the "original" Japanese soy sauce, as its recipe is closest to the soy sauce originally introduced to Japan from China. Technically, this variety is known as miso-damari (味噌溜り), as this is the liquid that runs off miso as it matures.

Shiro (白, "white")
A very light colored soy sauce. In contrast to "tamari" soy sauce, "shiro" soy sauce uses mostly wheat and very little soybean, lending it a light appearance and sweet taste. It is more commonly used in the Kansai region to highlight the appearances of food, for example sashimi.
Saishikomi (再仕込, twice-brewed)
This variety substitutes previously-made koikuchi for the brine normally used in the process. Consequently, it is much darker and more strongly flavored. This type is also known as kanro shoyu (甘露醤油) or "sweet shoyu".
Gen'en (減塩)
Low-salt soy sauces also exist, but are not considered to be a separate variety of soy sauce, since the reduction in salt content is a process performed outside of the standard manufacture of soy sauce.
Amakuchi (甘口)
Called "Hawaiian soy sauce" in those few parts of the US familiar with it, this is a variant of "koikuchi" soy sauce.

All of these varieties are sold in the marketplace in three different grades according to how they were produced:

Honjōzō hōshiki (本醸造 方式)
Contains 100% naturally fermented product.
Shinshiki hōshiki (新式 方式)
Contains 30-50% naturally fermented product.
Tennen jōzō (天然 醸造)
Means no added ingredients except alcohol.

All the varieties and grades may be sold according to three official levels of quality:

Hyōjun (標準)
Standard pasteurized.
Tokkyū (特級)
Special quality, not pasteurized.
Tokusen (特選)
Premium quality, usually implies limited quantity.

Other terms unrelated to the three official levels of quality:

Hatsuakane (初茜)
Refers to industrial grade used for flavoring, powder.
Chōtokusen (超特選)
Used by marketers to imply the best.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

shiroshooyu ... しろしょうゆ (白醤油) "white soy sauce"
„Weiße Sojasoße“, aus Weizen. Spezialität von Aichi.

shooyu sofuto しょうゆソフトクリーム Softice with soysauce flavor
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Softeis mit Sojasauce

ISHIRI いしり fish soy sauce from the Noto peninsula, Ishikawa


Engelbert Kaempfer
mentions the taste of food from time to time. Thus receiving a meal in the shogunal chambers he writes with regard to shooyu:

"Next to that stood a porcelain bowl with a few slices of raw salmon, marinated or pickled, with a little brown soup like soy, but not as strong, rather sweeter, ...."
(, p. 411; Kaempfer uses the word "Soje".)

Elsewhere (p. 68), explaining the use of soy beans he mentions miso "which in cooking takes the place of butter" and also shooyu (here "Soeju") "which is used as marinade or sauce to flavor food, and is served at every meal. It is exported as far as Holland."

The production of miso and shooyu he explains in more detail in Fasc. V of his Latin work (pp. 839-40).
This has been put on the internet by various universities. One site is

source : pmjs January 2011


awasejooyu  合わせ醤油 soy sauce mixed with ...

donburimono no tsuyu つゆ for rice bowls
with sake, mirin, and dashi

goma jooyu ごま醤油 with sesame
and some sugar

karashi jooyu からし醤油 with mustard
and dashi and a bit of sugar

ponzu jooyu ポンズ醤油
soy sauce with juice of citrus fruits

shooyu ame, shooyu-ame 醤油飴 しょうゆあめ hard candy with soy sauce flavor
Bonbons mit Sojasauce-Geschmack / 醤油の飴
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sukiyaki no warishita すき焼きの割り下 for sukiyaki
with mirin, dashi, sugar and a bit of sake
shitaji 下地 was the original name for soy sauce, which was then diluted (wari) with dashi and other ingredients. wari shitaji 割り下地, became warishita.
warishita in Kanto and Kansai

tentsuyu 天つゆ for tenpura
with mirin and dashi


ori 澱 (おり) dregs, sediment when making soy sauce
It is still quite rough and not for sale.
Local houswifes and neighbours of a soy sauce producer can get a bottle full to make special pickles.

orizuke おり漬け pickles with ori dregs
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The best online information

SOY info center

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Soy Sauce dispensers with Daruma
Sojasoßenfläschchen, 醤油差しshooyu sashi

Daruma Museum Japan

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soy sauce stains
on my silk tie -
careless pleasures

Mike Garofalo
Saba Maki, autumn of 1999

Related words

***** Soy Beans as Kigo
soya- sose Soyabohnen, soyasosse

***** Kanro-Ni, sweet simmering

***** Soy Sauce Pudding / shooyu purin 小豆島醤油プリン




soyasauce - #shoyu #soysauce -


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Usukuchi Shoyu

Usukuchi (thin, light-colored) Soy Sauce]

Soy sauce comes in two types, koikuchi (strong), of which Wakayama Prefecture's Arita soy sauce is typical, and usukuchi (weak), for example Hyogo Prefecture's Tatsuno soy sauce. Because usukuchi soy sauce takes advantage of the cooking ingredients to add not color but flavor to them, water plays an important role in the production process of this soy sauce. Tatsuno City, Hyogo Prefecture, where usukuchi soy sauce originated, is blessed with rich harvests of wheat, high-quality Mikazuki soybeans from the Harima Plains, salt from Ako, and water from the Ibo River, which is particularly suited to making soy sauce. This water is soft, with minimal iron. Generally, the higher the iron content, the darker the soy sauce becomes, and the harder the water, the lower its ability to extract flavors to make tasty soups. Tatsuno soy sauce also makes use of amazake, a sweet alcoholic drink made of fermented rice, which enhances the flavor, aroma and color unique to usukuchi soy sauce. The Kansai tradition of lighter flavors can truly be said to have been developed by its excellent soft water.