Destinations

NODA / CHOSHI

Noda is a kind of theme park of soy sauce.

Speaking of soy sauce, Noda and Choshi are famous places in Japan. However, soy sauce was originated in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan. In the Kamakura Era, Zen monk Kakushin came back from training in China in the 13th century and became the chief priest of Saiho-ji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture. He taught locals how to make miso, a delicious preserved food, which he brought back from China. When local people ineptly made sloppy miso, with too much water, they tasted the top clear layer of liquid and found it was very delicious. This liquid is said to be the origin of soy sauce. The soy sauce called “tamari shoyu” was developed in western Japan, mainly favored by monks and warriors in Kyoto. Later, tamari shoyu was delivered to the Kanto area. Noda and Choshi flourished as production centers of soy sauce because they were close to Edo, which is now Tokyo, and thus had a huge population of consumers, and because water transportation on the Tone River was well developed.

The history of Noda soy sauce dates back to the mid-16th century when Iida Ichirobe in Noda made tamari shoyu for the Takeda family, powerful warlords of Yamanashi Prefecture. Some 90 years later, in the Edo period, a full-fledged soy sauce industry took root in Noda. Ingredients of soy sauce including soy beans, wheat and salt were delivered to Noda via the Edo and Tone rivers, and the humid climate was good for making soy sauce. The Takanashi and Mogi families, who founded a forerunner of the later Kikkoman Cooperation, launched their business in the 17th century.

- Kanto vs. Kansai
In the early Edo period, Kansai (western Japan) style flavor, which generally means blander than that of Kanto (around Edo), was favored and the tamari shoyu from Kansai was preferred. With time, as Edo food culture became more established, “koikuchi shoyu,” which is a thicker, richer soy sauce originated in Kanto, started to be produced. Koikuchi shoyu gradually began to be favored by people and the position of the two types was reversed in the late Edo period. The Tokubgawa government awarded the soy sauce produced in Kanto with the appellation “supreme soy sauce” in 1864. Noda Shoyu Company was founded in 1917 and later it changed the name to Kikkoman, becoming a leading company of the soy sauce industry and one which proudly continues to produce soy sauce, the all-purpose seasoning of Japan, down to the present day.

- Noda Soy Sauce Walking Tour
As a train approaches Nodashi Station on the Tobu Noda Line, the smell of soy sauce is wafted on the air. Large silos of Kikkoman can be seen from the station. The town is full of black board fences, brick soy sauce storehouses, and stately mansions of families who succeeded in the soy sauce business. Kikkoman Monoshiri Shoyu-kan, a museum, is in the site of the factory. It offers a wealth of knowledge about soy sauce including the production process and the history of soy sauce. Observation of a part of the factory is available. There is a castle-like building near the Edo River: this is Goyogura storehouse where soy sauce for the Imperial Household Agency is brewed. Seeing inside, alas, is not permitted. However, Rengagura, a storehouse made of brick, is available for viewing and a natural brewing process is used to produce soy sauce in this building. Tools actually used for soy sauce brewing and materials related to soy sauce are on display at Noda City Museum. There are also several rice cracker shops in the town.

Fishermen from Wakayama seeking good fishing grounds for sardines arrived at Choshi. Before long they were thriving thanks to bumper sardine catches, and people in Choshi started soy sauce businesses with the accumulated cash. Choshi was also a transshipment station of goods to Edo. With a fine climate that it is cool in summer and warm in winter and wonderful scenery, Choshi has long been a favorite place of many writers and artists. The New Year's earliest sunrise can be seen from Choshi.

- Soy Sauce Tours in Choshi
Riding on Choshi Dentetsu Railroad in Choshi is recommended. It runs through 6.4-km stretch with ten stations, including Nakanomachi Station where there are soy sauce factories, Ashikajima Station that is near bathing beaches and Inubo Station that is close to the lighthouse. Visitors can observe the actual manufacturing process and tanks at Yamasa Soy Sauce Factory. Old tools and containers used for soy sauce making in an earlier are on display at Higeta Soy Sauce Museum.

- Cape Inubozaki
Located at the east end of the Choshi Peninsula, jetting into the Pacific Ocean and surrounded on three sides by water, Cape Inubozaki offers a dynamic view of breaking waves at rock reefs. Inubozaki Lighthouse stands at the tip of the cape.?

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