Soy Sauce History

“Shoyu”, the Japanese name for soy sauce, first came into usage during the Muromachi Period, and the word appears in a dictionary written in the early 1500s. Thus, it can be assumed that during the mid-Muromachi Period soy sauce began being used as a liquid seasoning.

During the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1603), under the rule of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the development of a monetary economy among the merchant and artisan class served as the gateway to the modern era, increasing the circulation of goods. Against this historical background, soy sauce spread quickly among the common people, and demand for the product increased.

During the Edo Period (1603-1867), wheat was used to produce a fragrant kind of soy sauce called koikuchi shoyu, perfect for flavoring the fish caught in the Edo Bay, the popularity of which contributed greatly to the culinary culture particular to the era. In response, the first soy sauce factories emerged during the late 16th century and early 17th century.

What is Brewed Soy Sauce?

Japanese Brewed Soy Sauce:

Soy sauce is made only from soybeans, wheat, and salt. The protein in soybeans changes to components that produce flavor and color unique to soy sauce as they are acted upon by microorganisms. Meanwhile, wheat is rich in starch, and is mainly used to create the unique aroma to soy sauce.

Fermentation of brewed soy sauce is required up to 6 months.

It is a glutamine acid that takes very important role in making soy sauce’s UMAMI. A thick and high quality soy sauce contains about 1.5 %. This is just about 1/10 of salt content. In fact, the glutamine acid content as UMAMI to the salt in soy sauce is close to that ratio and it has scientifically proven balance of delicious taste.

What’s the difference?

Countless varieties of soy sauce are available in the world. Japanese brewed soy sauce stands out from other soy sauce. For example, it has clear color and rich flavor. On the other hand, chemically produced soy sauce has dark color and unpleasant aroma. Some soy sauce has added MSG and other additives.

Key condiment of Japanese Foods:


Soy sauce contains various tastes, such as saltiness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and Umami. These are well-balanced to create the taste of soy sauce. For example, if you pour soy sauce on salty pickles, they become mild. If you dip sashimi (raw fish) into soy sauce, it removes the fishy smell and brings out its tastiness. The savory smell of stir-fried soy sauce stimulates your appetite.

In fact, it is inevitable to have it for Sushi, Soba, Tempura, Kabayaki, Yakitori.

Masking Smell:

Many aromatic substances in soy sauce will kill fishy smells, and it works like spices, infusing fish with delicious flavor.

Enhance Taste:

If you use soy sauce, foods becomes delicious. This is due to the glutamine, which is UMAMI essence, that enhances more than adding just soy sauce flavor. The glutamine acid is one of the amino acids that brings a strong UMAMI. However, if you add 5’ inosinic acid, UMAMI essence from dried Bonito and from meat, food becomes even tastier because of their synergistic effect.

Bring Aroma:

The many aromatic substances within soy sauce give you the most enjoyable flavor with deep satisfaction. About 300 aromatic substances were found, such as rose, apple flower, fruit, whisky, and coffee. These diversified fragrances and flavors are all balanced to create a harmonious, pleasant aroma. Furthermore, if we heat up soy sauce, the aroma changes from that of raw soy sauce into the scent of Teriyaki.

Burning soy sauce gives you a special aroma and golden brown color, and also gives you the first signs of delicious food. “Unagi no Kabayaki” is a kind of TERIYAKI food that has a flavorful aroma created by burning soy sauce.

Add Color:

Most people believe that the color of soy sauce is blackish red, but you may find clear and shiny red. This vivid, beautiful red is the sign of delicious soy sauce, and the color will stand out and stimulate your appetite.

Manufacturing Process of Soy Sauce