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”Hosaka Masaru, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Department of Fermentation Science” Science that Supports the Fermentation Culture

”Hosaka Masaru, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Department of Fermentation Science”
Science that Supports the Fermentation Culture

Tokyo University of Agriculture
1-1-1 Sakuragaoka Setagaya Tokyo

Fermentation as a Science

Nakata is heads to a university. Why? It was because they have ”sake”. This may sound strange, but here at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, they have a department called the “Department of Fermentation Science”. Vinegar, soy sauce, miso are all made by fermentation. And this department studies fermentation. We visited with Professor Mamoru Hosaka of the Department of Fermentation at Tokyo University of Agriculture. Professor Hosaka gave us a tour. Upon entering the lab, Nakata made eye contact with the staff. ”Hey, I know this smell. It’s the same smell as a ”sake” brewery.” he commented. It certainly was the same smell we were familiar with, having visited so many traditional breweries.

Automation and Handmade

Studying fermentation and analyzing it from a scientific perspective will lead to knowledge about new components, and perhaps new manufacturing methods as well. Basic knowledge is also essential for stable manufacturing.
“Fermentation is a chemical reaction, so we need to learn the basics.” Professor Hosaka explained. Generally one may not relate sake brewing with fermentation, but here, equations at the molecular level are calculated to understand how the components of yeast, rice and water change.
Some may say if this can all be done systematically using an mathematical equation, perhaps ”sake” can be manufactured totally by machines. Nakata asked, “What is your opinion regarding using machines and hand processing?” Professor Hosaka replied, “There are certain parts where the human eye is needed to detect minute changes, through human senses. Machines can’t take over completely.” You may have machines take tasks which are physically strenuous for example. However, yeast and fermentation deals with “living organisms” so you cannot totally replace human senses..

Wanting to do Something Interesting with Food

Recently there is an increase in applicants, as people are more and more interested in the human diet. When we walked in the lab, there were students conducting an experiment trying to separate “flower yeast”. Often, students will bring in sleeping bags and work overnight when preparing yeast.
Open lectures are also held on campus. “College research tends to focus on the latest experiments and findings. During our open lectures, I try to convey the basics. For example, even the same brand of ”sake” from the same brewery can taste slightly different depending on the maturity or rice that is used.”
There is a strong connection with the local community as well, the flower yeast being a good example. There are requests to produce yeast out of local produce, which keeps us busy exchanging ideas with the local community. “
“I’m hoping we can do something interesting with food and at the same time strengthen our bond with the community here.” In the lab, they store ”sake” from breweries. “We’re planning to store it for at least a hundred years.”


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