”Yagisawa Shoten” Fragrant and deep red soy sauce

”Yagisawa Shoten”
Fragrant and deep red soy sauce

Greatly damaged by the earthquake

”Yagisawa Shoten” is a manufacturer of soy sauce and miso which has a long history since its establishment in 1807. They had a cellar and a factory in Rikuzentakata city. During the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, they lost most of these facilities. Almost 80 percent of similar businesses in Rikuzentakata city lost their buildings during the disaster. And therefore, the whole city is still under reconstruction even to this day. We visited the new store of Yagisawa Shoten that was finished in the summer of 2012 and heard from the president, Michihiro Kono about their progress since the disaster, and the current soy sauce making process.

Soon after the disaster, Kono thought that nothing could be done without people, so he continued to pay his employees and treated volunteering in the community as company work. In May he asked soy sauce makers in other prefectures to create soy sauce by OEM, and was able to restart selling as Yagisawa Shoten Soy Sauce.
There were many products that were sold to local fisheries and processed food companies, but the whole area had suffered great damage by the disaster. The reality was that his customers who used to buy his soy sauce did not even imagine the possibilities of restoration after the huge disaster.
So he had to change his strategy in order to restart his sales. He changed his direction of sale to outside of prefecture. He shifted his direction to increase individual customers and his direct sales customers through the internet tripled since before the disaster.

Old taste even in the new environment

Currently, they have restarted making soy sauce in their new factory and new facilities, but it has not been easy to regain the flavor they had before. One of the reasons is the environment of the cellar. Kono told us, ”The yeast and lactic acid bacteria that was living in the cedar barrel in the historical cellar had not been scientifically analyzed. ”
”We are still in the process of making soy sauce in the new cellar. We need to verify for ourselves what the influence of the yeast and lactic acid bacteria were. We are thankful that we have cooperation from research institutions.”
And he told us that he is continuing the old method in the new environment. Cedar barrels were changed to steel. They are facing such environmental changes. But the core remains the same rich ”Rihei’s soy sauce” as the old days. That is the origin of their soy sauce making. They want to make the taste as similar as it was. He told us with great enthusiasm that he is aiming to make soy sauce like that.

Striving to be number one in Japan again

The importance of soy sauce is of course the taste, but fragrance and color is just as important, Kono said. ”We aim for our soy sauce to be ”aromatic soy sauce””. To prove those words, Yagisawa soy sauce has been popular, and previous patrons say ”It is best to use for food such as grilled fish.” The color is not black but a deep red. As fermentation progresses, the red becomes deeper. The ”umami” that is produced by the fermentation comes out strong.
Yagisawa Shoten’s soy sauce won the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Prize in a nationwide competition, and has been ranked number one in Japan many times. ”We have won top awards in the past, and have the confidence and pride. We are trying hard to return to that. And we want to regain the position.” Kono told us.


Yagisawa Shoten Co., Ltd
Suwa-41 Yahagichō, Rikuzentakata-shi, Iwate Prefecture
URL http://www.yagisawa-s.co.jp/