Join us on the Kikkoman Factory Tour in Noda, Japan, and learn how soy sauce is made. We had hands-on experience making soy sauce ourselves and toured Goyogura – the Imperial Soy Sauce Brewery.
As a couple who are passionate about food, Nami and I try to educate our children as much as possible about where our food comes from and how they’re made. Last summer while visiting Japan, our partner and favorite soy sauce brand Kikkoman invited us to participate in Kikkoman Factory Tour in Noda, Japan, and learn how their soy sauce is made!
I personally love learning how products we use in our daily lives are created. One of my favorite tv shows is How It’s Made which I can binge watch for hours. On our family trips, we’ve visited rice mill, confectionery, fish cake, jelly belly, beer, and various other food factories. Since one of the products Nami uses the most in her cooking and we eat almost daily is soy sauce, we were excited to see how this magical umami sauce is produced.
The Kikkoman factory is located in Noda, Japan (where Kikkoman was founded), about one hour by train from Tokyo’s Ueno station. Our Kikkoman Factory Tour was comprised of three parts:
- Tour of the factory facility and how Kikkoman makes their soy sauce (no photos allowed)
- Hands-on experience making soy sauce
- Tour of the imperial soy sauce brewery
How Kikkoman Makes Their Soy Sauce – Kikkoman Factory Tour
The first part of our visit consisted of learning how Kikkoman makes their soy sauce. Did you know they only use 6 ingredients used to make their amazing soy sauce?
- Koji mold
- Lactic acid bacteria
It was really surprising for us to learn such a tasty condiment is made with just these simple ingredients. The secret to Kikkoman’s excellent flavor? Their proprietary Koji (Kikkoman Aspergillus). There were no pictures allowed for the production facility so the best we can share are the illustrated signs. There are many soy sauce producers in the world but Kikkoman stands out by producing their soy sauce still using the traditional Japanese brewing process – honjozo.
How Kikkoman Soy Sauce is Manufactured – Kikkoman Factory Tour
Here are the primary steps for how raw ingredients become soy sauce and end up on your dining table:
- Raw ingredients
- Processing and cooking raw ingredients
- Koji culturing
- Brewing (Shikomi)
Hands-on Experience Making Soy Sauce – Kikkoman Factory Tour
After learning how soy sauce is made, we got to make soy sauce ourselves as part of the Kikkoman Factory Tour! Since we don’t have 6 months to make the soy sauce, after completing each step, the Kikkoman team sped up the process by supplying with what the finished result would be so we can continue to next step.
The primary materials for making soy sauce, soybean, wheat, and salt.
The Kikkoman team provided a bag containing the ingredient mixture that’s already cooked and added koji. The resulting product is called shoyu koji.
When koji mold is cultivating, it generates heat. We were provided a sample to touch and feel. It was interesting to sense the warm heat with our hands in the mixture.
The next step is for the shoyu koji to mix with brine and let it ferment. The resulting product is called moromi (もろみ).
Different stages of moromi in the images below, right after mixing, 2-3 months after, and 4-6 months after. The color gets darker as it’s further along in the fermentation process.
The Kikkoman team prepared moromi that’s already aged for us to scoop into fine mesh bags.
The bags are folded, then a weight placed on top of the bag. We pressed on the weight to squeeze out the soy sauce.
After making soy sauce ourselves, we got to enjoy making traditional Japanese rice cracker Osenbei, flavored with – soy sauce!
Imperial Soy Sauce Brewery – Goyogura (御用蔵)
The next part of the Kikkoman Factory Tour is to visit the Imperial Soy Sauce Brewery – Goyogura (御用蔵) on the Kikkoman factory premise. This is where the soy sauce for the Japanese Imperial family is made using traditional methods, instead of 6 months, the imperial soy sauce takes 1 year to make.
The original storehouse was on the banks of Edo River. The current building is reconstructed using many of the building materials from the old storehouse.
A few of the exhibits inside the Imperial Soy Sauce Brewery had augmented reality display, where visitors can enter the set and it looks as if they are working with virtual workers.
The purpose of the Imperial Soy Sauce Brewery is to serve as both a soy sauce museum and to make soy sauce for the Imperial household. Antique vats and equipment traditionally used to make soy sauce were on display.
The vats where the Imperial soy sauce is being brewed.
You can purchase the imperial soy sauce in the gift shop and online in Japan.
Our final stop was the cafe next to the gift shop, and guess what we’re eating. Soy sauce ice cream! It was very yummy with vanilla taste and umami finish.
Thank you Kikkoman team for hosting Just One Cookbook family and letting us make soy sauce! We had a marvelous time learning how one of our favorite condiments is made and making it ourselves.
We hope you enjoyed the Kikkoman Factory Tour with us. If you are interested in our Travel Blogs, you can view them here.
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