History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Japan, and in Japanese Cookbooks and Restaurants outside Japan (701 CE to 2014)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-65-5

Publication Date: 2014 Feb. 19

Number of References in Bibliography: 11,505

Earliest Reference: 701 CE

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Brief chronology of soy in Japan.
701 CE – The Taihō Ritsuryō [Taiho Law Codes], by Emperor Monmu, which some regard as Japan’s first constitution, is the earliest document seen that mentions soyfoods (and by implication soybeans) in Japan. It is also the earliest document outside of China to mention fermented black soybeans (FBS), which it calls “kuki” or “shi.” These law codes established the Hishio Tsukasa, or Bureau for the Regulation of Hishio Production, Trade and Taxation. The Hishio Tsukasa, located in the Imperial Palace, was an annex of the emperor’s kitchen, where hishio was made. Using methods very similar to those developed in China, it transformed soybeans into hishio (which resembled Chinese jiang), fermented black soybeans (kuki or shi), and misho (an ancestor of miso; the term “miso” had not yet been coined). These foods and seasonings were consumed at the Imperial Household (Shurtleff & Aoyagi 1978, p. 219). FBS are again mentioned in Japan in 718, 730, and 923.
     In 675 the first prohibition of meat eating in Japan was promulgated by Emperor Tenmu. Similar decrees, based on the Buddhist prohibition of killing, were issued repeatedly by emperors during the eighth and ninth centuries. Soyfoods gradually began to supply the savory flavor and protein that formerly had come from meat. Not until the 1860s did meat-eating resume in Japan, and not until after World War II did it become part of Japanese culture (Ishige 2001, p. 52-55, 146-153).
712 CE – The mythical story of the origin of the soybean in Japan is told in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters).
720 CE – The mythical story of the origin of the soybean in Japan is told again in the Nihon Shoki / Nihongi (Chronicles of Early Japan).
725 CE – The Harima no Kuni Fudoki [Geography and Culture of Harima province], from Japan, is the first document that mentions koji outside of China. It states that by the early 8th century in Japan, koji was being made using airborne koji molds.
741 CE – Two new Buddhist temples are added to each feudal domain (kuni) in Japan: Kokubunji is for monks and Kokubunniji is for nuns. It is said that from this time, fermented black soybeans (tera nattō, or shiokara nattō) spread throughout Japan. They are made from soybean koji, which is soaked in salted water and dried.
760 CE – The Manyōshū (Collection of Japan’s Earliest Songs and Poems) (from 350-759 CE) mentions koji – the 2nd earliest Japanese work to do so.
794 CE – The capital of Japan is relocated to Kyoto from Nara. The Heian period (794-857) begins.
901-08 CE – The modern word for miso first appears in Japan in the Sandai Jitsuroku.
927 CE – The Engishiki is completed by Fujiwara no Tokihira (871-811) and others. In this book it is written: "In the feudal domain of Omi 60 koku of soybeans [1 koku = 47.6 gallons or 180 liters], in the domain of Tanba 30 koku, in the domain of Harima 20 koku, in the domain of Misa 10 koku, and in the domain of Iyo 10 koku are recommended (susumu).” It seems that the soybean was now an important crop in Japan.
1051-1083 – The origin of natto is obscure. According to legend, it was discovered accidentally in northeast Japan by Minamoto (Hachimantaro) Yoshiie when warm, cooked soybeans, placed in a rice-straw sack on the back of a horse, turned into natto. The warmth of the horse (106 deg. F.) helped the fermentation; natto prefers 104 deg. F.
1058-1068 – The word “natto” first appears in Japan, but it refers to “salty natto” (shiokara nattō) (fermented black soybeans) rather than to “sticky soybeans” (itohiki natto). In about 1068 salty natto are first mentioned in Japan in the book Shin Sarugakki, [New Monkey Play Story: A humorous novel…] by Fujiwara no Akihara (lived 989-1066).
1183 Jan. – Tofu is first mentioned in Japan in the Diary of Hiroshige Nakaomi.
1192 – The Kamakura period and shogunate begins as Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199) becomes the first head shogun. The seat of power has been moved from Kyoto (where the emperor resides) to far-away Kamakura, near today’s Tokyo.
1228 – The Buddhist monk Kakushin returns to Japan from Song / Sung dynasty China having learned the method for making fermented Kinzanji miso. While fermenting the miso in Japan, he discovers that the liquid (tamari) which gathers on the bottom of the vats can be used as a tasty seasoning. This tamari is considered to be the first soy sauce in Japan.
1275 July 26 – Edamamé (green vegetable soybeans in the pods) are first mentioned in Japan (or worldwide) in a letter from Nichiren, the Japanese Buddhist saint. In a letter to Mr. Takahashi, one of the parishioners at his temple, he says “Thank you for the edamamé.”
1288-1292 – Tamari-style shoyu is first sold from Yuasa in the Kishu area (in today's Wakayama prefecture).

1405 Dec. 19 – Natto (itohiki natto) is first mentioned in the diary of Noritoki Fujiwara; it is called itohiki daizu (“stringy soybeans”).



1450 – The word “natto,” referring to itohiki-natto, is next used in Japan in the Shojin Gyorui Monogatari. This is a funny story about foods that are depicted as people and a battle for rank between vegetarian and nonvegetarian foods. Natto, called “Natto Taro” or “Natto Taro Itogasane” (the last word meaning “many threads”) is given a high rank.
1540? – Mame no ko, the early Japanese word for roasted soy flour, first appears in the Nyōbō Shitsukegaki [Women’s Book of Manners] – according to the Nihon Kokugo Daijiten.
1542 Jan. 1Mame no ko appears again in the Tamon-in Nikki [Tamon-in Diary].
1587 June 19 – Kinako, the modern Japanese word for roasted whole soy flour, first appears in the Sotan Chakai Kondate Nikki [Master Sotan’s Tea Ceremony Cookery Menu Diary] – in the morning menu.
1603Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam [Vocabulary of the Language of Japan], a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary, is compiled and published by Jesuit missionaries in Nagasaki, Japan. There are entries for:
     Abura ague [Abura-agé, deep-fried tofu pouches]
     Amazaqe [Amazake], a still-bubbling fermented liquid that has not yet completely become sake; or sweet sake.
     Azzuqi or azzuqui [azuki beans].
     Cabe [Kabe]. Same as tofu.
     Côji [Koji], a yeast [sic] used in Japan to make sake, or mixed with other things
     Daizzu [Daizu, whole dry soybeans].
     Dengacu [Dengaku]. Dancing monks or skewered tofu spread with miso and broiled.
     Fanben [Hanben]. A type of food which is made by broiling tofu and simmering it with miso.
     Icchô. A way of counting some types of food, such as tofu.
     Miso. A kind of mixture which is made with graos [grains, seeds, kernels], rice, and salt to season Japanese soups.
     Misocoxi [Misokoshi], a bamboo strainer used for straining miso.
     Misoya, a shop that sells miso.
     Misoyaqijiru [Miso-yaki-jiru], a type of soup (Xiru) made with tofu and finely sliced daikon radish.
     Misôzzu, which should properly be called Zosui, is a healing food made from vegetables, rice, miso, etc.
     Nattô, a type of food made by a brief boiling of grains / seeds [graos], which are then put into an incubation chamber (muro).
     Nattôjiru, a soup (Xiru) made from natto.
     Tamari, a very savory liquid taken from miso which can be used for seasoning foods [when cooking] or at table.
     Tôfu* – Taufu. A type of food. It is made into the shape of a cheese by crushing soybeans.
     Tôfuya – Taufuya, a shop which makes and sells that cheese-like thing (tofu), which is made by grinding soybeans that have been soaked in water until they are soft.
     Vdondôfu [Udon-dôfu]. Tofu which is made like udon (Japanese-style wheat noodles) and cooked.
     Xôyu [Shoyu, or soy sauce], a liquid which corresponds to vinegar except that it is salty. It is used for seasoning foods. It is also called sutate.
     Yudôfu – Yudaufu: A food made from thinly sliced tofu, served next to a kakejiru-type sauce [which is then poured over the top].
1605 –Tokugawa Ieyasu in Japan commands the monks at Daifukuji temple to make Hamana Natto – a type of fermented black soybeans, later known as Hamanatto (Saito 1985, p. 14-16).
1633 – The Tokugawa shogunate (upset at Portuguese Christian missionaries intent on making converts and instigating revolts) adopts a policy of national isolation which continues for 221 years until 1854. In 1639 the Portuguese are expelled. This leaves only the Dutch among the Europeans still trading with Japan.
1639 – By this time the Japanese had so successfully closed their doors to the outside world that subsequently Japan all but dropped out of the consciousness of Europeans. The only important exception was the annual Dutch vessel from the East Indies to the Dutch trading post on the island of Hirado, then Deshima in Nagasaki harbor.
1641 – The Dutch and their representatives are moved from Hirado to the tiny artificial island of Deshima / Dejima built by the shogunate in Nagasaki harbor, where they were kept as virtual prisoners. During this time Japan maintained contact with only two other nations: China and Korea. Chinese merchants were also allowed to trade at Nagasaki, but under strict controls.
1647 Oct. 16 – Japanese soy sauce (shoyu) is now being exported from Nagasaki, Japan, by the Dutch East India Company. In the earliest known handwritten letter (in Dutch) it is called soije (Int. Comptoir Nagasaekij). The Dutch merchants who exported shoyu in kegs from Japan did their best to spell it as it sounded – phonetically. Here is how that spelling evolved – based on documents now at Soyinfo Center; each appears in this book:
     1647 Oct. – soije
     1651 June – sooje
     1652 July – soij
     1652 Aug. – soije
     1652 Oct. – soije
     1652 Oct. – zoije
     1654 July – soijo
     1655 Aug. – soija
     1656 March – soeije
     1657 Aug. – soija
     1659 Aug. – soija
     1660 June – soije
     1665 Feb. – soija
     1669 Feb. – soija
     1669 Feb. – soija
     1674 Nov. – sooij
     1675 Nov. – soija
     1676 March – soija
     1676 June – soija
     1678 Nov. – soija
     1680 June – soije
Note: The words “soy,” “soya” and “soja,” and the term “soy sauce” came into English from the Japanese word shōyu via the Dutch. Thus, the name of the soybean was derived from the name of the sauce made from it.
1661 – Kikkoman traces its origins to this date when the Takanashi and Mogi families constructed breweries and started brewing soy sauce (Fruin 1983).
1712 – Englebert Kaempfer, a German who lived in Japan, is the first European to give detailed descriptions of how miso and shoyu are made in Japan – in his landmark Latin-language book Amoenitatum exoticarum politico-physico-medicarum [Exotic novelties, political, physical, medical, Vol. 5, p. 834-35]. He also mentions koji (which he calls koos), but he does not understand what it is, how it functions, or how it is made.
1727 – Miso is first mentioned in an English-language publication, The History of Japan, by Englebert Kaempfer. He spells it “Midsu, a mealy Pap, which they dress their Victuals withal, as we do butter.”
1750 Dec. – Soy sauce first reaches North America – arriving first in New York Harbor bearing the name “India Soy.” It was made in Japan and exported by the Dutch East India Co. to Amsterdam; from there it made its way to New York.
1797 – The Nihon Sankai Meisan Zue [Illustrations of Japanese Products of Land and Sea] contains the earliest known illustration of koji being made in Japan; the koji is then shown being made into sake.
1804 – San Jirushi starts making tamari shoyu and miso in Kuwana, Japan. The company name was changed in 1909 from 'Minato-ya' to 'Sato Shinnosuke Shoten' and finally to 'San-Jirushi Brewing Corporation' in 1963 (Earle 1988).
1853 July 8 – A fleet of ships headed by Commodore Matthew Perry (USA) arrives in Japan to “open” Japan to trade with the West. For the previous 220 years, during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) the ruling shoguns had initiated a policy of self-imposed isolation (sakoku) or exclusion to keep out foreign influences.
1867A Japanese and English Dictionary (1st edition), by James C. Hepburn, is published. Many soy-related words and terms appear. * = word first appears in English in this dictionary:
Amazake *
Daidz [Daizu]
Go – Beans mashed into paste.
Gokoku – The five cereals, incl. beans.
Hirodz * [Hirodzu, Hiryozu]
Kinako *
Kiradz * [Kiradzu, Kirazu = okara]
Koji *
Mame no ko
Natto *
Sh’taji * [Shitaji = woman’s word for soy sauce]
Shoyu *
Tofu *
Yuba *
1868 Sept. 12 – The Meiji Restoration in Japan begins. Formal coronation of the emperor Meiji. He is the first emperor of Japan with real power since 1192 – during which time the military shoguns had held the real power. Oct. 23 – The name of his era is changed to Meiji. Nov. 6. The capital of Japan is moved from Kyoto to Edo, and Edo is renamed Tokyo.
1871 July – A brewing tax (jōzō-zei) and patent tax are levied on clear sake (seishu), unclear sake (dakushu), and shoyu. But in 1875 the two taxes on shoyu are discontinued because shoyu is considered one of the necessities of life.
1873 May – The Japanese government exhibits soybeans at the exposition in Vienna, Austria. Also at this expo, Kikkoman uses glass bottles for their shoyu for the first time.
1878 – The first official government statistics on soybean cultivation in Japan start to be compiled. This year the area is 411,200 hectares and production is 211,700 metric tons [tonnes; the yield is 514 kg/ha].
1890 Dec. – Jokichi Takamine arrives in Chicago, Illinois, and (working closely with both his wife’s parents), establishes the Takamine Ferment Co. and becomes involved in a project (with the “whisky trust”) to replace malt with koji in the manufacture of whisky in order to increase the yield of whisky per bushel of corn and decrease the cost of making whisky.
1891 Feb. 28 – The first article about the work of Jokichi Takamine that mentions “diastase” (a starch-digesting enzyme now, called amylase) or “koji” (the source of enzymes in making Japanese sake, soy sauce, miso, and amazake) is published. These enzymes “convert starch into sugar,” which (in the absence of salt) can then be fermented into alcohol.
      It also states that “Mr. Takamine has patented his new process in Europe and the United States” and that he has just entered into a contract with the Distillers’ and Cattle Feeders’ Company (whisky trust) of Peoria, Illinois (Peoria Herald, p. 8).
1894 Feb. 23 – Jokichi Takamine applies for his earliest patent (U.S. Patent No. 525,823) which contains the word “enzyme” (or enzymes”) or the terms “diastatic enzyme” or “taka-koji” or “tane-koji” in connection with koji. This is the first patent on a microbial enzyme in the United States. This enzyme “possesses the power of transforming starch into sugar.” This patent was issued on 11 Sept. 1894. It was the key patent in the production of Taka-diastase, a digestive enzyme.
      “Takamine, in 1894, was probably the first to realize the technical possibilities of enzymes from molds and to introduce such enzymes to industry” (Underkofler 1954, p. 98).
1895 April 17 – The Treaty of Shimonoseki ends the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95); Japanese victory establishes Japan ­­­as a regional power. China is obliged to cede Taiwan (Formosa), the nearby Pescadores Islands, and the Kwantung Peninsula in South Manchuria to Japan; recognize Korea's independence; pay 200 million taels indemnity; open more ports; and negotiate a commercial treaty. The latter, signed in 1896, gave Japan all the privileges that the Western powers had in China and added the further privilege of carrying on 'industries and manufactures,' using the cheap labor in the treaty ports. The Kwantung Peninsula (southern Manchuria) soon became an important source of soybeans for Japan.
1901 – Crushing of soybeans starts in Japan. Owada Seisakusho of Tsuruga, Fukui prefecture, Japan, starts making soy oil and soybean cakes using the press method (assaku-ho).
1901 – Nakahara Kota is issued a patent on his process for making dried-frozen tofu indoors in a freezer (jinko kôri-dofu). This makes it possible to produce a good-quality product year round. This year there are 453 makers of dried-frozen tofu in Nagano. Nagano prefecture encouraged production of this product during the Russo-Japanese War as a side home industry.
1905 Sept. 5 – The Treaty of Portsmouth ends the Russo-Japanese War (Feb. 1904-1905). In a mere 50 years Japan had transformed itself from an isolated underdeveloped country with no industrial base into a modern nation, a major military and industrial power. The victorious Japanese move into Korea. The treaty gave Japan the Russian lease on the Kwantung Peninsula and the Russian-built South Manchurian Railway as far north as Changchun. This event won for Japan full status as a world power and equality with the nations of the West. In its victory over Russia, Japan became the first non-white or non-Western nation to defeat a white or Western nation in a war.
1905 – At about this time, soybean cake (daizu kasu) passes fish cake to become the main fertilizer for crops in Japan.
1906 April – Katayama, in Japan, reports that he has made “A condensed vegetable milk” from soy-beans.
1906 Aug. – “On the microorganisms of natto,” by S. Sawamura is published in a scientific journal in Japan. He found two bacteria in natto. He was the first to isolate Bacillus natto Sawamura from natto, to give that name to the newly-discovered microorganism, and to show that it was responsible for the natto fermentation.
1906 – Soybeans and soybean cake are first successfully exported from Manchuria to Japan. During 1906 the exports were 16,130 tons of beans and 64,520 tons of cake, and in 1907, 17,359 tons of beans and 26,605 tons of cake. In Japan the bean cake was used as a fertilizer (Maynard 1911; Turner 1914).
1907 March – Nisshin Mamekasu is founded (initial capitalization is 3,000,000 yen). The next year its soybean crushing plant in Dairen, Manchuria, starts to operate. In 1918 the company merged with Matsushita Mamekasu to become Nisshin Seiyu K.K.
1907 – Korea becomes a Japanese protectorate.
1910 – Japan forcibly annexes Korea as a province called Chōsen. Japan will continue to exercise rather harsh control over Korea until 1945, including importing a large percentage of the soybeans grown in Korea.
1912 – Dr. Shinsuke Muramatsu of the Morioka College of Agriculture publishes “On the Preparation of Natto” in English. He found that three Bacillus species or strains produced fine natto with strong viscosity and good aroma at 45°C, but that Bacillus No. 1 produced the best product; he recommended its use as a pure culture. He concluded by giving the first nutritional analysis of fresh natto and of natto that was several days old. Soon Dr. Muramatsu started producing his “College Natto” at the College of Agriculture. His students helped to make and sell it, as a source of income, and it became very popular.
1914 – The Mogi Saheiji family in Noda starts to sell shoyu in 1-sho bottles (1 sho = 1.805 liters or 3.81 pints). Before this time a ceramic sake bottle (tokkuri) was used.
1917 Dec. – Eight Mogi and Takanashi family companies, the leading shoyu producers in the Noda area, merge to form Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., a company with capital of ¥7 million and the predecessor of Kikkoman Corporation.
1918 March – Arao Itano of Japan is the world’s first person to conceive of making an ice cream from soy. In an article titled “Soy beans as human food,” in the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 182 he states “Vegetable butter, ice cream, oil (table use) and lard (cooking): The manufacture of these articles from soy beans needs further investigation.”
1919 – Dr. Jun Hanzawa, of Hokkaido University’s Department of Agriculture, published the first of three key reports which helped to bring natto production in Japan out of the “Dark Ages.” Serving simultaneously as a microbiologist, and extension worker, and a pilot plant operator, Dr. Hanzawa began by making a pure-culture bacterial inoculum for natto; this enabled commercial natto manufacturers, for the first time, to discontinue the use of rice straw as a source of inoculum. Secondly, disliking the use of rice straw even as a wrapper, he developed a simple, low-cost method for packing, incubating, and selling natto wrapped in paper-thin sheets of pine wood (kyōgi) or small boxes of pine veneer (oribako). A third important improvement followed shortly; the development of a new incubation room design (bunka muro), which had an air vent on the ceiling and substantially decreased the natto failure rate. These three developments laid the basis for modern industrial, sanitary, scientific natto manufacture. Commercial natto makers filled his classes and he worked as a consultant for them. Like Dr. Muramatsu before him, Dr. Hanzawa sold his “University Natto” from his research lab, promoting it as a rival to cheese. He was given the appellation of “the father of modern natto production,” and he was given the honor of addressing the emperor of Japan on the subject of natto.
1920 – Soybean production in Japan peaks at about 548,000 metric tons per year, as Japan begins to import more and more low-cost soybeans from Manchuria and Korea. As a result, soybeans become unprofitable for Japanese farmers and they tend to grow soybeans mainly for their own home use. Soybean production in Japan continues to fall until 1945 – near the end of World War II.
1922 April – The oil production department of Suzuki Shokai [which went bankrupt in 1922] becomes independent and founds Hohnen Oil Co., Ltd. (Hohnen Seiyu).
1923 Sept. – The Great Kanto / Tokyo Earthquake (Kanto Daishinsai) strikes. 70% of the miso factories in the area are burned down, causing a shortage of miso. But miso makers in other parts of Japan use this opportunity to ship their miso to Tokyo, and the people of Tokyo come to realize the good taste of miso made elsewhere in Japan.
1925 – Soybean meal begins to be used as a protein source in livestock and poultry feeds to supplement the traditional fish meal (Kitamura 1965).
1926 – Nakazawa Ryoji, a famous Japanese microbiologist, becomes the first Japanese to study or write about tempeh. In April and May of 1926 (following preliminary investigations in 1912 and 1924) Nakazawa took a research trip to Java and Sumatra and carefully collected (in sterile containers) 59 samples of soy tempeh and onchom from various markets and small manufacturers. He published his findings in the April 1928 issue of Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi.
1929 Feb. 18 – P.H. Dorsett (age 67) and W.J. Morse (age 45) leave Washington, DC, by train, for a 2-3 year expedition to the Orient. Two of the main goals of the expedition are to collect soybean varieties and soybean products, and learn as much as possible about growing and processing soybeans in Japan, Korea, Manchurian, and China. The group sails for Japan on March 1 aboard the President Grant. They arrive in Tokyo on March 18, set up headquarters there, and spend most of the first year in Japan. At the end of each day they type up their notes and add original photographs to their trip report.
Major accomplishments of the expedition:
(1) Soybean varieties: They collect and send back to the USA 4,451 soybean varieties (PI numbers) of which 986 (22.2%) were still in the USDA germplasm collection in 1981 (R. Bernard, 1981). However none of these are major ancestors of soybean varieties grown in 1972 (National Research Council, 1972, Chap. 13).
(2) Soybean products: Morse collects, Dorsett photographs, they describe and send back more than 300 soybean products.
(3) Trip report: The typewritten Log of the Dorsett-Morse Expedition to East Asia, which fills 17 volumes and contains more than 8,818 pages plus about 3,200 glossy black-and-white photo prints, is now at the USDA National Agricultural Library (Beltsville, Maryland), in the Rare and Special Collections.
(4) Vegetable-type soybeans / Edamame: Morse discovers a new type of soybean. He realizes that Japanese think of vegetable-type soybeans (which are grown by horticulturists and home gardeners, and eaten as a green vegetable – edamame) as completely different from regular soybeans (daizu). He collects more than 100 different edamame varieties, and they soon become popular in the United States (Lloyd & Burlison 1939; Cates 1939).
1931 Sept. 18 – The Manchurian Incident (also called the Mukden Incident) is used by the Japanese as an excuse for occupying all of Manchuria. For Japan, “the prize” in Manchuria is soybeans, soybean cake and soybean oil, which they export to Japan.
1941 Dec. 7 – Japanese aircraft attack Pearl Harbor. The United States enters World War II.
1945 Sept. 2 – Surrender of Japan after World War II. The documents of unconditional surrender are signed on board the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor. Japan’s empire is broken up. Manchoukuo (Manchuria) and Formosa (Taiwan) are returned to China. Korea is divided into north and south; South Korea declares independence in May 1948 as the Republic of Korea with Seoul as its capital. The island of Sakhalin reverts to the Soviet Union
     The United States now stands astride the world as the only remaining great power. General Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan, and his staff helped Japan to rebuild itself (to the amazement of most Japanese), institute democratic government, and chart a new course that ultimately made Japan one of the world's leading industrial powers.
1945 – Soybean production in Japan drops to the lowest level since record-keeping began – 170,000 metric tons per year. The next year it starts to rise and continues to rise until 1952 (521,000 tonnes) when rapidly increasing soybean imports from the USA cause Japanese production to enter a long, steady decline.
1948 Oct. 10 – Since the end of World War II, Japan has imported only 42,569 tons of soybeans (Kurakake 1948).
1950 June 25 – Outbreak of the Korean War between North and South Korea. Soybean imports from China to Japan come to a complete stop (Hirano 1952).
1951 – From about this time, the number of natto makers in Japan increases rapidly. Natto consumption begins to spread southward from the northeast prefectures (Tohoku chiho).
1956 Jan. – There are now in Japan about 50,000 tofu shops, 6,000 soy sauce plants, 5,000 miso shops, and 3,000 oil mills (Strayer 1956, p. 8).
1956 April – The Japan American Soybean Institute (JASI) is established in Tokyo with Shizuka Hayashi as its first director and most of its funding from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). It has only one objective: To increase the market for U.S. soybeans and soybean products in Japan. With its earlier major sources of inexpensive soybeans in Manchuria and Korea now gone, Japan quickly becomes a major importer of U.S. soybeans. However Japanese makers of soyfoods constantly complain, year after year, of the poor quality of U.S. soybeans (too much foreign matter, broken soybeans, weed seeds, etc.).
1957 June – Kikkoman International Inc. (KII), a soy sauce sales company, is established in San Francisco, California, in the United States. KII imports Kikkoman Shoyu from Japan and markets it in the USA.
1957 – Japan’s first commercial soymilk, sold in bottles, named Tônyu, is introduced by the Ueda Tofu Shop in Hachioji, Tokyo. Dr. Harry Miller is the inspiration for and helps to establish the shop.
1959 – The first instant miso soup is introduced by Yamajirushi Miso in Nagano. It contains dried green onions, wakame, dried tofu [probably dried-frozen tofu], etc.
1960 – Soybean imports rise to 1,128,000 metric tons (tonnes) topping 1,000,000 tonnes for the first time.
1960 – Per capita consumption of shoyu drops to 13.7 kg. It has now fallen below 14 kg/person. Japan is moving toward a more Western-style diet, with bread replacing rice and with more total protein, animal protein, meat, and fat.
1961 July 1 – The tax on imported soybeans is removed.
1962 – A new natto container made of Styrofoam (PHP yoki, happo suchiroru) is invented.
1963 Jan. – William Brandemuhl (an American) arrives in Japan to begin 15 months of field research on soybean realization. In June 1963 he is joined by Tomoko Arai, his bride to be, who helps him greatly. Their resulting book (now published only on Google Books), containing many photos, gives a detailed record of soyfoods in Japan at this time.
1964 Oct. – Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., is renamed Kikkoman Shoyu Co., Ltd.
1965 – Per capita miso consumption drops to 7.8 kg, falling below 8 kg/person.
1966 – At about this time meat analogs, based on modern soy protein products, start to be sold commercially in Japan.
1966 – Soybean imports rise to 2,168,467 tonnes, passing the 2 million tonne mark for the first time. Production of soybeans in Japan drops below 200,000 tonnes for the first time. Japan now produces only 9%
of the soybeans it consumes.
1966 May – Kikkoman starts to sell low-salt shoyu.
1968 July – Shizuka Hayashi retires as managing director of the Japanese American Soybean Institute in Tokyo after 12 years of service. Scott Sawyers takes over as country director in Japan for the American Soybean Association.
1968 – Bottling of Kikkoman Soy Sauce for the American market begins at the Leslie Foods plant in Oakland, California.
1969 March – Nineteen major food manufacturers in Japan join to form the New Protein Food Council, which will make meat alternatives based on modern soy protein products and wheat gluten.
1969 – Annual per capita consumption of soy oil in Japan rises to 3.2 kg, passing the 3 kg mark for the first time. In 1960 it was 1.2 kg/person.
1960s – In Japan, soymilk slowly increases in popularity. New manufacturers are: Nihon Tanpaku Kogyo (1962). College Health Foods (later renamed San-iku Foods) in Chiba prefecture with its Soyalac (1969, also inspired and aided by Dr. Harry Miller). Luppy Tanpaku (House Shokuhin) in Saitama prefecture with its Luppy soymilk (1969).
1972 March – Kikkoman Foods, Inc. (KFI), is established in Walworth, Wisconsin (USA) for the purpose of manufacturing soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting is on 21 June 1973, with the governor of Wisconsin present.
1973 June 27 – President Richard Nixon sets new regulations for soybean exports from the USA. This comes as a huge shock to the Japanese – and causes them to look to other soybean suppliers, such as Brazil, to diversify their sources.
1978 – Soybean imports rise to 4,260,000 tonnes, topping 4 million tonnes for the first time. This is 4.5 times as much soybean imports as 20 years earlier.
1979 – Tofu production continues to rise, reaching 1,114,000 tonnes, and topping 1.1 million tonnes (metric tons) for the first time.
1980 – Production of natto reaches 153,000 tonnes, up 33% compared with 10 years ago (when it was 115,000 tonnes). This is largely a reflection of the health food movement in Japan.
1980 Oct. – Kikkoman Shoyu Co., Ltd. is renamed Kikkoman Corporation – the company's present name.
1981 Feb. – Morinaga Tofu starts to be imported and sold in the USA from Japan.
1981 June – Japan’s first soymilk ice cream is made by Kibun in Tokyo.
1981 Nov. – The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Japan announces a Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) for soymilk. The soymilk boom in Japan starts; the total yen value of the soymilk by all major Japanese manufacturers is 5,000 million yen. The boom peaks in 1983.
1982 – Annual per capita consumption of soy oil in Japan rises to 5.1 kg, passing the 5 kg mark for the first time. In 1960 it had been 1.2 kg/person.
1983 June – Torigoe Seifun, Japan's fifth-largest flour miller, starts production of tempeh. This is the earliest known commercial tempeh ever made in Japan.
1983 July – At the NNFA show in Denver, Eden Foods surprises the natural foods industry by launching designed-for-America Edensoy in plain and carob flavors. Made in Japan by Marusan-Ai and exported by Muso, it is packed in a 6-ounce retort pouch. Sales of Edensoy soon skyrocket.
1983 Nov. 19 – House Shokuhin Kogyo, a major Japanese food company, invests $2.5 million in Hinode Tofu Co. in Los Angeles as part of a joint venture to expand tofu production.
1983 – The soymilk boom in Japan peaks this year at 116,724 kiloliters (kl.). By 1986 it has fallen to 43,392 kl, which is only 37% of the peak.
1985 Sept. – Tofu Time Inc. (founded by David Mintz, maker of Tofutti) enters into an agreement with Daiei, Inc., Japan’s largest ice cream retailer, to export $350,000 worth of Tofutti to Japan. Daiei also plans to open three Tofutti Shops in Tokyo within the next 6 months.
1994 – Yamasa Corporation (the world’s 2nd largest manufacturer of soy sauce after Kikkoman) opens a plant making shoyu in Salem, Oregon. The shoyu is first shipped in April 1995.
1996 April – Kikkoman establishes Kikkoman Foods Europe B.V., Europe's first soy sauce manufacturer, located in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, in the Netherlands.
1997 March – Kikkoman holds a ground-breaking ceremony for its second U.S. soy sauce production plant in the United States, in Folsom, California. Shipments start in Oct. 1998. Kikkoman's U.S. production of soy sauce rose from 1.59 million gallons in 1973 to 23.81 million gallons in 1993.
2005 Nov. Yamasa Corporation purchases San Jirushi Corp. and San-J International of Kuwana, Japan, and Richmond, Virginia.


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