Morita Soy Sauce Brewery (Okuizumo, Shimane Prefecture)
Amongst the heavy snow that Okuizumo receives in the winter, there is a soy sauce brewery set on putting people’s health first. “From youth to adulthood, eating safe soy sauce should always be ensured,” says Ikuhumi Morita?san. Soybeans and wheat are domestically produced, and dashi (soup stock) is produced in?house, all guaranteeing the quality of the product. With that in mind, I was quite intrigued by Morita?san’s viewpoint on making soy sauce.
Morita Soy Sauce Brewery was founded in the 36th year of the Meiji Period (1903).
I visited Morita Soy Sauce Brewery in January. “Chains on car tires are essential. The snow here is quite cruel…” said Morita?san over the phone. He also told me that when the sun sets, it’s normal for the temperature to drop to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Sometimes it even drops to the negative double digits.
Ikuhumi Morita?san, fourth?generation owner.
Kioke barrels neatly arranged in the brewery.
The main warehouse of Morita Soy Sauce is not spacious. In order to make use of the area, tubs with a height of more than 2 meters (6.5 feet) are closely packed, and the tank for storing pressed, refined soy sauce is located on the second floor. In the picture below, a brewer is standing on the plank over the kioke (large wooden barrel) stirring the moromi (main fermented mash). You will hear a pleasant ‘picha picha’ sound.
Stirring the moromi with a wooden paddle must be done manually.
It takes time for the moromi to turn into this beautiful color.
Preparing koji (naturally?occurring mold) over 50 times in one year is quite a considerable amount. Since the room for making koji is small, the amount that can be made in one batch is limited. Therefore, it is necessary to repeat this work over and over again.
It takes about three days to prepare the koji, and you must watch over it regularly during that period. A subtle temperature change will affect the koji’s growth, so there is no room for error. During the preparation period, Morita?san carried his futon to a place where he can hear the koji fans. That way, he can continue managing them.
“Doesn’t it look like a maze of machines?” said Morita-san, in regards to the limited space for his equipment.
Pressing and refining. Wow, the soy sauce came out!
When Morita?san was developing ponzu sauce, he looked at the ingredients list, and was shocked to find “other extracts” listed on there.
He stopped, and had a moment of realization. Recently, his son has been eating the ponzu sauce during meals, and hasn’t been feeling well. Morita?san realized that they have been ordering dashi from another company, instead of making their own. He then threw away all the recipes, and started to create new ones.
Taking in the savory aroma of dashi.
Kelp and dried bonito is proof that the company is brewing their own dashi.
A while back, when Morita?san was manually stirring the moromi, he decided to wave his wooden paddle in the air, as if he was stirring it. However, the rich moromi aroma, “stuck” to the ceiling. But he thinks it’s better that way.
The salt?water ratio that Morita?san uses is less than the average than most breweries. He says, “Although the soy sauce batch will be less, but it would be more delicious.” There is no sign of boasting in Morita?san’s views on how to make soy sauce, and it is clear that he isn’t like the other companies who are only out to gain profit.
Morita?san tried using black beans in his soy sauce, and asked me to try it. I found it to be quite delicious, but nothing was said amongst the two of us. Morita?san just looked very happy.
Soybeans and wheat are all domestically produced. All the raw materials stacked in the warehouse are quite a sight.
Morita?san’s son, Kohei?san.
Kohei?san returned to Morita Brewery in January 2015. “Originally, I wanted to work in the additive?free goods industry, so I didn’t think about inheriting the soy sauce brewery. But when I was a student, I went back home to help our brewery at an exhibition. When I was explaining the ingredients and products to the visitors, I realized that the additive?free industry that I wanted to work in, was right here at home,” said Kohei?san.
with his father, Morita?san replied back, “It would be much better if you are the son of a soy sauce shop. If you work at home, you will work 3 times as much. But your salary will be the same as your employer, and your enjoyment is more than triple.”
Morita?san’s motto is to make soy sauce safe to eat from youth to adulthood. This soy sauce has been aged for three years in the cold, snowy weather of Okuizumo. Raw materials include domestically?produced soybeans, wheat, and natural salt.
Price: \581 + tax
Ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt
Raw soy sauce that is fermented, matured, and pressed. Raw ingredients include the cool spring water of Okuizumo, and domestically?produced raw soybeans, wheat, and sun?dried salt. The soy sauce is filtered, and then the yeast is removed, thus it can be stored at room temperature.
Price: \476 + tax
Ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt
“Let’s make ponzu sauce safe for kids to eat!” Morita?san created a ponzu sauce with such a gentle taste, that you would want to drink it.
Price: \476 + tax
Ingredients: soy sauce (soybeans [non?GMO], wheat), bitter orange juice, sudachi juice (Japanese citrus), yuzu juice, brewed vinegar, bonito flakes, kelp, mirin, raw sugar
278 Minari, Okuizumo?cho, Nita?gun, Shimane Prefecture 〒699-1511