Welcome to the Soy Sauce Wonderland!
Soy sauce (Shoyu) is an essential condiment in Japan. Sushi, sahimi, tofu, ramen… you cannot enjoy these food without soy sauce. As Japanese food is getting popular in other countries, it is well-known to many people around the world. Probably you can get it easily at grocery stores in your town as well. But there are more unique soy sauce available in Japan. Let’s take a look together.
Awa shoyu is a new style of soy sauce and you can make it at home. “Awa” means bubble, mousse or foam so it is translated as “soy sauce foam” or “soy sauce foam espuma”. It was a trend in Japan a while ago as one TV show featured about it. The foam style was first created by professional chefs thinking it won’t make customers’ clothes dirty when they wear luxurious dresses or kimonos. The texture is amazingly soft as you can imagine. And what’s great is it makes the original taste of ingredients better. And it is low-salt so the dishes are more healthy for you as the foam stays longer in your mouth than usual soy sauce. Here is the recipe.
Soy Sauce: 10g
Powdered Gelatin: 1g (dissolve gelatin with 20 ml of water at 80 degrees Celsius)
Add ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together for about 2-3 minutes.
(In case the foam is not stable, cool the bowl with iced water while whisking.)
It will be much easier with a Cappuccino mixer like this. You can get one at 100 yen shops in Japan.
If whisking for a few minutes is tedious for you, a shop in Kyoto has a wonderful solution. They sell powdered foam soy sauce: Awa Shoyu (1,000 yen for 5 packs and other kinds are available as well). Mixing the powder with water, stirring them, chilled in the fridge and ready to eat.
Kyo no Maiko-san Honpo Official Website: http://www.awa.co.jp/ (only in Japanese)
Powder Soy Sauce
A long-established Japanese traditional kaiseki (cuisine) style restaurant “Shimogamo Saryo” (established in 1856), located near Shimogamo Shrine where it is designated as an official UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, created powdered soy sauce in 2013. It was made with the special 3-year brewed soy sauce from soy sauce brewery Kamebishi-ya in Kagawa prefecture (established in 1753) and was blended with yuzu citrus and ichimi (ground dried red chili peppers) by the head chef. They started to serve their dishes with the soy sauce and it got very popular among customers. It was sold for a limited time in the summer of 2014 and they have started to sell since 2015. Also at Le Salon du Chocolat Paris 2014, a Japanese chocolatier was awarded 5 Tablets of “Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat” (C.C.C.) for his chocolate with the powder soy sauce.
They also have the gift set and travel set. Powder soy sauce is lighter than liquid ones and easy to carry to anywhere, so it can be a good idea for obento or souvenirs to your friends and family.
The best thing about the powder soy sauce is adding subtle Japanese flavor to dishes without wetting the food so that you can enjoy the texture better. Can be enjoyed with eggs, rice, grilled fish, sushi, sashimi, tempura and ice cream!
Shimogamo Saryo Official Website:http://www.shimogamosaryo.co.jp/english/
Salt Soy Sauce
This is soy sauce from a souther island, Okinawa prefecture. The base is light soy sauce made with rock salt from Okinawa, has rich umami (pleasant savory taste) flavor. It goes well with rice, grilled fish, chilled tofu and grilled vegetables.And you can make simple tasty soup too; mix the sauce with 5 to 7 times the amount of hot water. Doesn’t it sound yummy?
Ryukyu Shoyu Shop Official Website: http://ryukyushoyuya.co.jp/ (only in Japanese)
Honey Soy Sauce Butter
This one can be your new favorite when you have bread. This is honey butter with soy sauce from Fukui prefecture. It tastes like caramel at the first bite, sweet and gentle soy sauce at the second bite. Also it goes well with steamed potato, simmered pumpkin and sautéed mushroom. They sell various soy sauces at the shop in Fukui, such as soy sauce chocolate sauce, soy sauce for ice cream, soy sauce for grilled eggplant etc.!
Yamakawa Jozo Brewery Official Website: http://www.tamariya-shouyu.com/ (only in Japanese)
Gourmet Soy Sauce by Joël Robuchon
Joël Robuchon is a French chef and restaurateur who owns restaurants in 10 countries worldwide. A top selling soy sauce manufacturer Yamasa Corporation did a collaboration with him. He decided to join the project with the company as he was impressed by their passion to crate new soy sauce like nobody did before, and also because he has been a big fan of soy sauce for a long time. He offered three ideas for the special shoyu. The first is to make low salt soy sauce because he was concerned about the saltiness of soy sauce. The second is to add fruit juice and wine so that it goes well with French dishes. Fruits and wine, of course, adds rich flavor and also they has great antioxidative effect. Especially Mr. Robuchon has chosen cherry because his shortness of breath got better thanks to the fruit before. And the third is to use only natural ingredients, no artificial additives. The base of the gourmet soy sauce is Yamasa’s top quality patented soy sauce made for luxurious Japanese cuisine and sushi restaurants. He has added his special recipe to it; apple, pomegranate, cherry, red wine and so on. So they have created the healthiest and tastiest soy sauce ever. The less salt soy sauce has a unique and premium flavor of fruit sweetness and red wine and can be enjoyed with various food including Japanese, Asian and Western.
Soy Sauce by Joël Robuchon and Yamasa Official Website: http://www.yamasa.com/robuchon/
Pink Soy Sauce
We even have pink soy sauce in Japan. This is Flower Lady Rose. Why is it pink? Because this is the color of beets. A company in Tottori prefecture has created soy sauce with the local vegetable beets. The company also manufacture pink foods such as curry and mayonnaise as the female president think the color pink makes people happy. Probably this is why the product somehow looks like a cosmetic. This can be a lovely present for your mother, wife, girlfriend, female friends and anyone who likes pink.
Brilliant Associates Official Website: http://www.ba-tottori.com/ (only in Japanese)
You may find more unique soy sauce at department stores and speciality shops in Japan. Enjoy your meal with various flavor of soy sauce!
Top Image: http://www9.nhk.or.jp/gatten/recipes/20140611/1.html
Source: http://www9.nhk.or.jp/gatten/recipes/20140611/1.html, http://vegetokalogtokyo.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/blogpost_25.html, http://www.awa.co.jp/, http://www.shimogamosaryo.co.jp/english/, http://ryukyushoyuya.co.jp/?pid=42284395, http://www.tamariya.com/SHOP/hony.html, http://www.tamariyashouyu.com/, http://www.yamasa.com/robuchon/, http://www.ba-tottori.com/
10 Japanese Dagashi Snacks Foreign People Fell In Love With
Dagashi refers to cheap candies and snack foods that can generally be bought for less than 100 yen. Many of us Japanese people loved to buy dagashi with friends after school when we were kids (good old days…). They are not luxury sweets but always bring us back to our childhood. And of course even after we grew up, we still love to eat them sometimes. One Japanese TV show thought how people abroad think of Japanese dagashi and they actually brought some to do the survey in Italy and Los Angels, the States. Each has a different result and we found it interesting. Take a look at the results.
No. 5: Ume Jam (approx. 10 yen) sold from 1947 since Ume-no-Hana Hompo
Photo: Ume Jam
The unique jam was popular among the adults as it can be healthy for breakfast. Ume Plum Jam has been made by only one old man at a small factory in a downtown area of Tokyo almost for 70 years. Mr. Takabayashi started to make the jam to feed his family after the Wold War II when he was only 16 years old. He raised the price from 5 yen to 10 yen in 1960s and the price has been the same ever since. It tastes salty and sour, not too sweet. You can just eat it or you can also enjoy with Milk Senbei (rice crackers). They are not the exact same snacks but this video shows how you can eat.
No. 4: Morroco Yogul (appox. 20 yen) sold since 1961 from Sanyo Seika
Photo: Morocco Fruits Yogul
Morrocco Yogul is yogurt-flavored paste in a small cup. The Italian people think it tastes like Ricotta cheese so it may go well with bread. It is very popular in Japan as well and the company has started to sell jumbo-sized of the products. Adults who wished to have lots of the dagashi when they were kids buy the jumbo ones to make their childhood dreams come true. You can see the size difference between the ordinary ones and jumbo-sized ones on the link below.
No. 3: Cut Yotchan (approx. 30 yen) sold since 1977 from Yotchan Food Co. Ltd.
Photo: Yotchan Food Co. Ltd.
This is squid-like vinegared snack. The Italian people liked this since it tastes like Balsamic vinegar. One restaurant waiter even convinced it goes well with Italian Chardonnay wine! Can be sold at dagashi shops, convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan. Sake lovers’ favorite dagashi!
No. 2: Kabayaki-san Taro (appox. 12 yen) sold since 1982 from Kado
Photo: Kabayaki-san Taro
Kabayaki-san Taro (Mr. Kabayaki Taro) tastes like Unagi Kabayaki (Japanese barbecued eel). To our surprise, eels has been eaten in Italy since the Ancient Rome. It is very chewy and you can enjoy the flavor long. Can be sold at convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan.
No. 1: Sauce Senbei (approx. 400 yen for 180 pieces) sold since 1967 from Isuzu Seika
Photo: Isuzu Seika
The sauce flavored rice crackers are the most popular dagashi among the Italian people. They especially loved the Japanese chuno sauce (a kind of vegetable sweet sauce) used for the senbei. They say okonomiyaki restaurants are popular there. Sauce Senbei is made by a small company established in 1959 in Saitama prefecture. It is usually sold at dagashi shops but is getting hard to get these days and enthusiastic fans buy online now.
Los Angels, U.S.A.
No. 5: Fugashi (approx. 20 yen for 1 piece) since 1949 from Kagiya Seika
Fugashi is a long-seller snack made of dried wheat gluten coated with brown sugar. The American people liked its crispy texture and gentle taste of brown sugar.
No. 4: Baby Star Ramen (approx. 30 yen) sold since 1959 from Oyatsu Company
Photo: Oyatsu Company
Baby Star Crispy Noodle Snack in an English name. If you love ramen, you definitely will love this. It is a flavored fried noodle snack that you can eat with hands. So tasty and addictive! It is so popular among L.A. people as there are many Japanese ramen restaurants there now. Like Umaibo, you can enjoy the snack in many ways.
The Different Types of Baby Star Ramen & Unique Ways to Enjoy It
No. 3: Umaibo Mentaiko (spicy caviar) (approx. 10 yen) sold ince 1979 from Yaokin
Umaibo or “delicious bars (sticks)” is a puffed corn snack available in many flavors such as tonkatsu sauce, salami, cheese, teriyaki burger, corn soup, vegetable salad, takoyaki, chicken curry, prawn and mayo, grilled beef tongue, pizza, natto (fermented beans), sugar rusk, yakitori, chocolate, premium mentaiko, premium Japanese-style beef steak and premium mozzarella and Camembert cheese (19 flavors as of June, 2016). Mentaiko (spicy caviar) is very popular everywhere. Some Japanese dagashi freaks do not just eat them, they even cook with Umaibo as secrets ingredients.
No. 2: Miyako Kombu (approx. 30 yen) since 1912 from Nakano Bussan
Photo: Miyako Kombu
Also known as “Nakano Kombu”, Miyako Kombu is made of edible kombu kelp seasoned with vinegar
and sweeteners. You may think kelp is strange for snack but dashi and umami from kombu is very
familiar flavors for the Japanese people. What’s interesting is it was not popular at all among the Italian people at the survey; it was too venegary and they did not like the salty flavor. But here in L.A., kombu kelp is well-known as a healthy food and is getting popular. In Japan as well, some Japanese young women like this dagashi as a low calorie food with benefits to beauty.
No. 1: Kinako-bo (approx. 30 yen for 3 sticks) sold since 1987 from Suzunoya
This is stick-shaped sugar candy coated with kinako, roasted soybean flour. It tastes subtle sweet and ranked as No. 1 in L.A. because of the natural and healthy ingredients. Some Japanese fans enjoy the candy frozen in the freezer or microwave it for about 20 seconds.
Are you interested in any of the above? There are more and more dagashi in Japan. If you want to try some of those, check an Asian or Japanese grocery store near you or shop online. Of course you can buy at dagashi shops in Japan. You can even go to Dagashi Bar in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka!
Check Out Dagashi Bar for All You Can Eat Japanese Snacks!
Source: http://www.tbs.co.jp/nippon-deban/backnumber/20141111.html, http://www.tbs.co.jp/nippon-deban/backnumber/20150203.html
The Amaging Power of Green Tea
Green tea is not only healthy or delicious but effective for your skin because it contains much vitamins and polyphenol like catechin that has anti-bacterial qualities. It also removes reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can be a cause for aging, and is effective for reducing UV irradiation damage. Some people say it is good to balance hormones, to lose weight and to prevent pimples. So it can work so well when you use as your skin care. Sounds curious to you? Ok, let’s find out how you can use green tea for your skin!
Green Tea Facial Pack
Green tea facial pack can be a good choice when you have pimples or other skin problems. Of course you can buy ones at drug stores but it is very easy to make one at home. Here is the recipe; Mix flour and powdered green tea in the ratio of 2 to 1 and add some water. Or mix 1g of powdered green tea and 50g of flour and add some water. That’s it! Put it on your skin after washing face and leave it for about 5 to 10 minutes and rinse with water before it gets dry. Green tea has strong anti-irritant qualities so it is great both for preventing and curing atopic dermatitis and pimples. Also, chlorophyll, tannin and vitamin C (four times as much as lemons) in green tea increases skin cell turnover so it is effective for craters on the skin caused by pimples. Both green tea and flour are safe enough to eat, however, some people may have allergy to flour so please do not forget to do a patch test to the inside of your upper arm before trying it on your face.
Washing Face with Green Tea
Some Japanese beauty freaks wash their faces with green tea to keep their skin glowing. There are two methods and both of them are very simple. The first method is to add a pinch of powdered green tea to your facial foam. You can buy powdered green tea at tea shops or you can grind it with a mixer grinder. Green tea removes dirt from your pores. Please remember to rinse well with water and make sure there is no tea powder left on your face.
The second method is to wash your face with diluted green tea. The first infusion of green tea may be too strong for your skin so it is better to use the second or third infusion of it. When the tea is ready, pour it in a washing bowl. Add twice or three times amount of (lukewarm) water, and wet your face with the water. That’s it. You do not need to rinse it off. If your skin is sensitive, you can rinse it off with water or it is good to just put on a cotton pad and pat it to your face.
Green Tea Facial Moisturizer
Homemade skin care is easier than you imagine. It is safer to your skin and more economical and eco-friendly as well. Have you ever felt guilty when you had just a cup of tea and threw away the used tea leaves? Then this recipe is good for you.
Green tea (not a teabag but tea leaves*)
*If your skin is sensitive, it is better to use used green tea leaves.
1. Infuse green tea and cool it down.
2. Pour the tea into a container filtering with a sheet of kitchen paper.
3. Add a small amount of glycerin and shake it well.
Use the moisturizer after washing your face. It has whitening effect and also glycerin make your skin softer. For a better result, use facial cream or facial oil after that.
Notes: Please make sure to boil the container to sterilize it before pouring the ingredients into it. Glass containers are recommended. Also this is 100% additive-free, so please keep it in a fridge and finish using it within 3 days.
Shizuoka is one of the largest green tea producing prefectures in Japan. People living there gargle with green tea when they come home from outside. Catechin has strong anti-virus effect and is effective for sore throat and preventing cold or flu. Even after you have a cold, gargling is also good for you because it helps sterilize your throat so you get well sooner with green tea. It works well for bad breath as well. Weak tea is ok when you gargle. Cool down the tea as hot water extracts more catechin from tea than water. Also, if you love to take a hot bath or a foot bath, put a few used tea bags into a tub and you can feel relaxed with the subtle tea scent.
If you are a green tea lover and have it a lot every day, you should keep used green tea leaves to make tsukudani, preserved food boiled in soy sauce. This was known as one of grandma’s wisdom for generations. It is not just a way of reducing garbage but it goes perfectly with steamed rice!
Used green tea leaves: approx. 40g
Soy sauce: 1 – 2 table spoon (15 – 30mL)
Mirin (rice cooking wine): 50mL
Shichimi togarashi (assorted chili pepper): pinch
Roasted sesame: pinch
1. Stir-fry used green tea leaves with sugar, soy sauce and mirin (not using oil).
2. Add shichimi pepper and sesame when it gets dry in a pan.
Some people use green tea as a cleaning tool, deodorizer or fertilizer. It is just more than a beverage. We will tell you more ways to use it if you are interested. Make the full use of green tea with your ideas!
Sources: http://binotetujin.com/ryokutyabiyou-1841.html, http://food-drink.pintoru.com/green-tea/methodgargle/
Hisashi / One Calligraphy / 永 – brushstock Calligraphy Download Site
Sake Lesson Event: The Local Food and Junmai (Pure Rice) Sake with Seaweed – OnJapan Travel
Experience Best Food for Less Price in Tokyo! – JapanPage
Ume Blossom Festival and Open Tea Ceremony
Japan is very famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring but you can enjoy ume (plum) blossoms here and there this time of the year. One of the best places for ume blossoms is Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto. The Baikasai (Ume Blossom Festival) was held there on February 25th.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built in 947 in honor of Sugawara no Michizane, a scholor and politician. He is known as “god of academies” as he would read poem since he was a child. He was deified and the title of “Tenjin” was conferred. There are as many as 12,000 shrines that are dedicated to him in Japan and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is the origine and the main one. Many students go pray for the success there or other Tenmangu shrines in Japan before taking entrance exams for colleges. People who want to inmpove some skills pray there as well.
The shrine is filled with Michizane’s favorite tree, red and white ume blossom at the Bai-en (ume garden). There are 50 types of 1,500 ume trees there and the garden is open to public when the flowers bloom. The shrine celebrates the Baikasai (ume blossom festival) for his death anniversary on February 25th every year. This traditional event has been held on the same day every year for 900 years. The festival also has an open-air tea ceremony where geiko and maiko at Kamishichiken district serve matcha (green tea) and Japanese sweets to guests. It is said about 3,000 guests enjoyed the tea.
The shrine is also famous for their Momiji-en (autumn maple garden) with 250 maple trees. And this is a great news for shop lovers that they have a flea market “Tenjin-san” on the 25th every month. There are lots of stalls for various Japanese items such as antique kimono, ceramic, books, Japanese pickles and other food… and almost anything. You can spend the whole day there.
And I personally would like to recommend the soy milk soft serve at the tofu shop Kyotofu Fujino. It is located right near the entrance of the shrine where you can buy various tofu and soybean products, and have lunch and sweets as well. I have their soft shave every time I visit the shrine. This is one of the best soft shave I have ever had in my whole life. Please, please try it if you ever have a chance to go there!
You can experience something interesting anytime at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine!
Top Image: YouTube Sankei News
Source: http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php, http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/annual_events.php, YouTube Sankei News, http://www.kyotofu.co.jp/en/
Mochi Lifting at Daigoji Temple in Kyoto
Daigoji Temple in Kyoto is a Buddhist temple founded in 874. Located in Daigo Mountain, the site area is
more than 2 million square meters and the temple is designated as Japan’s National Treasure and UNESCO
World Heritage. Many people visit there to see their beautiful cherry blossom in spring and red maples in
autumn but we can say their festival Godai-Rikisan and Mochi Age (rice cake lifting) is the most famous occasion of the year.
About The Festival
It is the largest event for the festivav called Godai-Rikison Ninno-e, known as “Godairiki-san“, which is held on February 23rd every year. Monks are empowered by Godai Myo’o (5 great powers) and pray for peace, health and happiness of the country and people. It is said that the fesitival started in 907 during Emperor Daigo’s era.
More than 1,000 monks gather and stay in a hall for a week until the day of the festival to thoroughly pray with paper charms. The pre-event ceremony is open to public and visiots can join the pray too. On 23rd the festival day, 100,000 visitors join the ceremony and get the paper charm and they spot the charm at entrance of their stores and houses for a year.
The Pre-event Ceremony
The following is a small paper charm for visitors to carry it in their wallet or purse.
Photo: Discovery Japan
And Mochi Lifiting is held during the festival. It is called “Mochi age riki hono” (dedication of power by lifting a rice cake). It is a competition for how long participants can lift big mochi; 150kg for men and 90kg for women. They dedicate their power and pray for their health and happiness. A woman in pink won to carry it for more than 5 minutes 30 seconds this year. Wow, well done!
If you are confident for your strength, this can be a good festival to join!
Top Image: YouTube Sankei News
Source: https://www.daigoji.or.jp/, YouTube Sankei News
So ‘Japan’ Place To Stay!
There are several kinds of places to stay in Japan. Hotels, capsule hotels, hostels etc. And do not forget about ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese inn originated in Edo period (1603 – 1868). Ryokan usually comes with tatami mats on the floor and onsen (public baths). Visitors often wear yukata (casual kimono) after taking onsen and enjoy dinner and breakfast at restaurants or the staff serve meals to their rooms at some ryokan. Staying at ryokan can be a little hard to understand for some foreign tourists. That is one reason The Ryokan Tokyo is opening their first new style ryokan at a hot spring town in Yugawara, Kanagawa prefecture on coming March 1st.
At the inn, you see, feel and experience the appeal of Japan as it is full of the very image of what tourists think when they hear about Japan. For example, the entrance is inspired from the very famous
Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.You can learn how to stay at ryokan and a little bit of spice about Japanese culture during your stay there.
The large ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) kites welcome you at the entrance hall.
The large red paper lantern, inspired by the one from Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) at Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo.
Flowing Hot Spring
You can enjoy onsen with water from the rich Yugawara hot springs. And shower booths are available too for those who cannot use public bath for religious reasons.
The lobby is full of large photographes of famous locations in Japan. You can even do cosplay to take picture there. It will be a great moment for your trip to Japan.
How about trying some Japanese sake here? You can enjoy sake tasting at their friendly bar.
It is available up to 6 people to stay at their Japanese-style room. Perfect for families or groups.
Their dormitory beds are wide enough (120cm wide) and they offer you a pleasant stay.
The prices are quite reasonable compared to usual ryokan.
Japanese-style room: Price for 1 person with breakfast included. For 2 people in 1 room: 5,800 JPY per person Dormitory: 1 bed 3,000 JPY per person
Why don’t you stay this ryokan on your next trip to Japan?
Top Image: facebook The Ryokan Tokyo
Source: http://theryokan.jp/yugawara/index.html, http://inari.jp/