History of Miso and Soybean Chiang - Page 2

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s


©Copyright 2004 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California

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The Nara Period (AD 710-784) . The first written records of miso and hishio date from the Nara period; no documents or legends from before this time mention any varieties of fermented foods. And, strangely enough, no mention is made of them in either the Kojiki (AD 712; Philippi 1968) or Nihonshoki (AD 720; Ref??), which do mention soybeans and were written more than ten years after miso and a closely related variety of hishio are known to have been produced at the imperial palace.

One of the first references to this hishio appears in the Man'yoshu , an extraordinary collection of thousands of Japan's earliest songs and poems recorded from as early as the year AD 315 and compiled c. 760. In most of the poems, the Japanese words are elaborately spelled out with Chinese characters used phonetically. The character for hishio (jiang) appears in scroll 16 in a poem by Imiki Okimaru (686-707), a humorous bard who improvised at banquets for the court nobility. We and Pierson (1929) translate this as:

I want to eat red snapper (tai)

With a dressing of minced garlic and vinegar hishio

So do not offer me a leek soup.

Another poem describes two comic crabs happily making themselves into crab hishio seasoned with pounded elm bark. Mention is also made of hishio containing wild game and deer meat. Unfortunately we are not told exactly what type of product this hishio was nor how it differed from miso and jiang, yet it is now generally believed that all of these products were well known at this period among the nobility and, to a lesser extent, the common people.

During the first several centuries of contact with the continent, miso and hishio were probably very similar to jiang, and many of the basic raw materials and complex fermentation techniques were undoubtedly acquired largely from the Chinese. However, Japanese and Chinese taste preferences have always been fundamentally different, the Chinese preferring to use relatively large amounts of spices, oil, and meat in their strong flavored cookery and the Japanese preferring the simpler, more subtle flavors inherent in the foods themselves. Gradually, therefore, by altering the basic ingredients and preparatory techniques, the Japanese began to transform jiang into foods uniquely suited to their own tastes. Soybeans--used alone or together with rice or barley--came to be preferred to fish or meat as the basic ingredient, while wine and spices were generally reduced in quantity or omitted. Hishio probably retained much the same applesauce-like texture as jiang, but miso slowly evolved into a firmer product with a shorter aging time. Of the two foods, hishio was probably the more important and more varied. Both were initially served primarily as toppings for rice; the hishio still widely prepared in country farmhouses continues to be served mostly in this way.

Perhaps the most important event in the early development of miso and hishio was the establishment in 701 of the Hishio Tsukasa or Bureau for the Regulation of Production, Trade, and Taxation of Hishio and Miso, which was originally an annex of the emperor's kitchen ( kunaicho daishokuzen ), where hishio was made. Inaugurated by the Emperor Monmu in the Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Law Codes, one of Japan's earliest constitutions, which went into effect in 702), this bureau was located in the imperial palace. Using methods very similar to those developed in China, it transformed soybeans into high- and low-quality hishio, miso, and soy nuggets. These foods were consumed by the imperial household.

Another early reference to hishio, perhaps a soy-based product, appeared in the Yoryo Ritsuryo , written by Fujiwara Fuhito in 718. It mentioned various types of jiang and soy nuggets, plus misho , the second character of which was jiang (Ichiyama 1968).

The most detailed information to date on the early relatives of miso and the first clear reference to a soybean hishio appeared in the Todaiji Shoshoin documents, written between 730 and 748, and still preserved in excellent condition in the Imperial Treasury of the Shosoin, connected with Nara's Todaiji temple. It records that in 730 taxes were being paid on hishio and on misho (a variety of hishio and an early relative of miso). A document from the next year mentions the same foods again. A document written prior to 748 clearly referred to soybean hishio (Ichiyama 1968). In a document of 740, first mention is made of kasu hishio , which may have been the lees remaining after the extraction of tamari. Records of about 750 show the following relative prices: high-grade hishio 15 mon , hishio 10.7 mon , ara-bishio 10 mon , and miso 7-8 mon . They also indicate that miso and hishio were sold in the markets of Nara; prices calculated on the basis of 1 sho (about 1.8 liters or 2 quarts) reveal that they were relatively inexpensive. These various fermented foods were most commonly written with the following characters; note that even the word "miso" contains the ideograph for hishio (jiang), indicating both origin and relationship:

[4 character sets]

Miso Rice Hishio Ara-bishio Soy Nuggets

Much of Nara's miso was used at temples to provide free meals for the monks and laymen who donated their time to hand-copy Buddhist scriptures. Small quantities were used in side dishes and aemono (mixed salads) as well as with pickles, noodle dishes, mochi , and soups. Many of these preparations were served to the laborers who built Todaiji temple, then the largest wooden building in the world, and its immense cast statue of Buddha, the Daibutsu , which was completed in the year 752.

One of the most colorful chapters in the history of miso concerns the great Chinese T'ang dynasty Buddhist master Chien-chen (Japanese: Ganjin). The founder of the Japanese Ritsu or "precepts" sect and of the well-known Toshodaiji temple in Nara, Ganjin spent over eleven years trying to reach Japan. After being blocked by pirates, shipwrecks, and storms, and having lost his eyesight during one of his six attempted crossings, he finally reached the Buddhism-dominated Japanese court in 754 at the age of 66. The records of his ship's cargo show that in addition to 185 monks, sailors, and craftsmen, he brought with him 1,428 gallons of salt-free soy nuggets ( kan-shih ). Later records show that this same fermented soyfood was prepared at his temple in Nara, carried by foot to Kyoto, and peddled there in the streets.

It is not clear exactly what type of food Ganjin's salt-free soy nuggets were. They probably resembled soybean koji, but it is not clear what kept them from spoiling or how they were served or used in foods. Nevertheless, Ganjin is widely reputed to have brought the progenitor of Japanese miso to Japan from China. Yet records show that something called "miso" was already being sold in Nara's markets more than 20 years before Ganjin's arrival. Hence, some scholars have concluded that the popular "Ganjin theory" probably reflects more of a desire on the part of early miso makers and Buddhist priests to link their new product to Ganjin's lofty reputation than to historical fact.

One of the key links in the transmission from China to Japan of the techniques for preparing the different varieties of jiang was the Ch'i-min yao-shu , Chia Ssu-hsieh's sixth-century encyclopedia mentioned above, which arrived in Japan during the late 700s. Its ten fascicles describe the preparation of koji, soy (and barley) nuggets, and numerous varieties of jiang. From it, the Japanese learned how to prepare red-snapper miso, crab miso, yuzu miso, savory soy nuggets (Hamanatto), and products closely related to Kinzanji miso. A veritable treasurehouse of accurate and detailed information, this tome had a profound effect on the development of Japanese farming methods and crafts as well as food preparation.

One of the historical puzzles concerning the early development of miso in Japan concerns the origin of sweet white miso, which is still the favorite in the area of Japan's earliest capitals (Nara and Kyoto) and along the northern shores of the inland sea. The pattern of miso consumption in this area is very different from that of the rest of Japan; miso soup is relatively uncommon, only about one-third as much miso is consumed per capita as in Japan as a whole, and white miso's sweet flavor and light color are preferred to regular miso's dark saltiness. These facts have given rise to the theory that at a very early period, sweet white miso was brought from China to the ancient Japanese capitals where it continued to preserve its aristocratic mien and distinctive usage in cookery.

Documents written near the end of the Nara period describe more than 22 varieties of hishio, miso, and soy nuggets. Of these, hishio was by far the most diversified, yet all its 15 or more varieties were generally grouped into three basic types:

1. Fish, Shellfish, and Wild Game Hishio (Shishi-bishio) . Generally prepared by pickling crabs, sea urchins, or shrimp in a mixture of salt, water, and sake. Deer meat, eggs and, occasionally, fowl were also used.

2. Vegetable and Fruit Hishio (Kusa-bishio) . Foods such as uri melon, eggplant, daikon , green leafy vegetables, kabu turnips, udo , fresh green soybeans, mizunegi onions, peaches and apricots pickled with salt and fermented. In some cases, vinegar and/or mizuame ^?? sweetening was used with or in place of the salt. These preparations later evolved into tsukemono (salted pickles) and the various types of Finger Lickin' miso. During this period the first miso pickles were made using uri melons and eggplants.

3. Soybean and/or Grain Hishio (Koku-bishio) . The last type of hishio to develop, these products contained soybeans, grain (rice, wheat, or barley), salt, and often sake or sake lees. The Chinese equivalent of this fermented soyfood was called kara hishio and that from Korea was called komabishio ("high-elegant hishio"). These three foods evolved into today's miso and shoyu.

The Heian Period (AD 794-1160) . One of Japan's great Buddhist pioneers was Kukai (best known by his posthumous title Kobo Daishi). He went to T'ang China from 804-806, and in 816 founded a great Shingon monastery on Mt. Koya. In 811 he wrote a letter to Emperor Saga which concluded, "I made a mess writing on this white cloth you gave me, so please use it as a lid for your hishio" (Ref??). This indicates that hishio was widely popular at that time.

At the beginning of the Heian period, the word "miso" suddenly began to be written with a new combination of characters, which is used to this day. The character for "mi" meant "flavor" and the one for "so" meant throat. This second character was, itself, a Japanese invention and is presently used in no other words. It first appeared in an official Japanese document of 806 in connection with a food called enso , a salt seasoning. According to Kawamura and Tatsumi (1972), the modern word "miso" made its first appearance in the Sandai Jitsuroku (Trans??), a history book by Ogura Yoshiyuki that was published between 901 and 908 but had been widely circulated in manuscript form since 886. Ichiyama (1968), however, says that the modern word for miso first appeared in the Fuso Ryakuki (Trans??) of 938. In either case, the new word looked like this:

[2 characters]

We may well inquire why the Japanese of this period deliberately invented a new character to replace the character jiang (hishio) that had been used during the previous 2 centuries, and why they introduced the character meaning "flavor" into the combination. It seems likely that by this time the Japanese had so thoroughly transformed jiang into a food suited to their own culture and tastes, that they felt it deserved a uniquely Japanese name. In fact, the Sandai Jitsuroku portrays miso as a truly Japanese food rather than as simply a Chinese import. But there were broader cultural changes too behind the change in characters. In 894, at the beginning of the Heian period, Japan essentially cut off contact with the outside world, and began an extended period of assimilating and transforming Chinese cultural imports. During this period, Japan also developed the hiragana and katakana writing styles, which were completed in the tenth century. It was as part of this larger cultural transformation that the change in miso and its characters took place.

Scholars generally agree that miso finally achieved its own identity during the hundred years prior to the emergence of its new name. Yet traditional writing habits were slow to change, and as late as the 18th century, the word miso was still written most frequently using the character for hishio or jiang, rather than the new Japanese so . The combination would have meant "hishio with a lot of flavor ( mi )." The character for hishio could also have been pronounced sho , as it is in the word "shoyu." Thus if the combination were pronounced misho , it could have been the forerunner of the word "miso." The word "shoyu" would not appear for another 700 years.

Some scholars believe that the pronunciation "miso" originated with the Wamyosho (also called Wamyo Ruijusho ), the earliest dictionary of the Japanese language, encyclopedic in scale and written between 903 and 938 by Minamoto no Shitagau. It is modeled after Chinese dictionaries and listed many types of hishio including ones pronounced " miso ," " misho ," and " kara hishio ." It also mentioned soy nuggets.

The earliest Japanese document to contain information about the production of miso and hishio was the Engi Shiki , an elaboration of old law codes, compiled in about 927 by Fujiwara Tokihira and others. In it we are told that miso was a fermented food with soybeans as its main ingredient, but also containing rice, rice koji, wheat, salt, and sake. The Engi Shiki gave detailed information about the Hishio Tsukasa government bureau, stated that hishio was given to the emperor's civil and military officials as part of their annual wage, and listed at least ten different types of miso and hishio. Among these, the word "miso" was written using at least five different character combinations, all of which were pronounced "miso," or perhaps occasionally "misho."

[5 character sets]

It is not always clear whether each of these names refers to a different food, or whether the name of a single variety was simply being written with different character combinations. The book gives the amounts of basic raw materials used in preparing numerous different types of miso and hishio, but most of the quantities appear quite inaccurate and cannot be used experimentally to make the products they describe.

Although notebooks dating from as early as the eighth century reveal that miso was bought and sold in the marketplaces of the former capital at Nara, the first shops specializing in its sale are said to have originated in about 925 in the new capital at Kyoto. The Engi Shiki recorded the presence of a miso retail shop in Kyoto's western market and a hishio outlet in the eastern market. Moreover, 50 other shops were reported to have carried hishio, and 32 miso, as one among numerous other foods. Thus by the middle of the 10th century, it seems that hishio and miso were becoming basic staples.

The Engi Shiki also mentioned kasu-hishio and hishio-kasu . Perhaps the former was lightly pressed, yielding a smaller amount of the shoyu-like liquid, so that the moist residue could be used as a seasoning. And perhaps the latter was very firmly pressed, yielding more liquid and a dry presscake, which was discarded.

The Utsuho Monogatari (Trans?? 911-983) mentioned kasu miso . In the Utsuho Monogatari of 969 (dupe book??), the word "miso" was first written in kana script, thus clearly indicating the pronunciation.

Records from the year 980 show that monks in Nara's Todaiji temple were provided with a large daily supply of miso which was used in mixed salads ( aemono ), foods simmered in seasoned broths ( nimono ), and soups. Meanwhile, Chinese-educated monks in other Nara temples had begun to prepare Kinzanji, abalone, and red-snapper miso.

In the epics of the Heian period, such as Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji (Waley 19?? page??) and the Konjaku Monogatari , are found descriptions of all-night parties held by the court nobility in the Imperial palace. A typical dinner consisted of seven courses, each served consecutively on separate trays. Popular foods included abalone miso and red-snapper hishio, uri melons and eggplants pickled in miso, and red snapper, carp or other sea foods lightly marinated with miso sauces. Both hishio and miso were also apparently widely used as table seasonings. Among the palace women, miso was known as ko , meaning "fragrance or incense," or higurashi meaning "a clear-toned summer cicada" whose song is said to be able to penetrate even the hardest stone. Likewise the rich fragrance and fine flavor of miso were said to penetrate and season other foods. For this reason, in the Kyoto area miso is still occasionally called mushi or bamushi meaning "insect or honorable insect."

By the middle of the 10th century, miso-making had spread from the capital to the countryside. The Wamyosho (903-938) tells us that miso was being produced in the prefectures and usually bore the name of the area in which it was made: Shiga miso and Hida miso, still enjoyed to this day, were among the early favorites.

The Kamakura Period (1185-1333) . In 1185, with the beginning of the Kamakura period, a great revolution occurred in Japan. A new and vital government, composed largely of samurai, took away control of the country from the degenerate and effete ruling aristocracy in Kyoto, and established its capital in remote Kamakura, just south of present-day Tokyo. Buddhism awoke as a new spiritual force, aimed at showing the common people how they could attain enlightenment by a simple life based on daily religious practice, faith, and meditation. Out of the simple, lean Buddhist lifestyle evolved a simple yet healthful way of eating which became the standard Japanese diet. A typical meal consisted of a large serving of cooked grain (rice, barley, or millet) accompanied by the newly discovered takuan (salt-pickled daikon ) and miso soup containing tofu and vegetables.

Thus among miso historians the Kamakura period is famous as the period in which miso soup developed. A preparation then known among the Japanese aristocracy and still unknown in China, it came to be a symbol of the "food of the people." Miso, tofu, and deep-fried tofu ( age ^??) became the basic, favorite foods both among the ruling Shoguns (Generalissimos) and in the Zen temples. Many Zen temples established shojin vegetarian restaurants within their own compounds as a way of making contract with the common people; there meatless meals, generally including a soup containing miso made at the temple, were served at reasonable prices in a quiet atmosphere of refined simplicity and beauty. Almost all temples made their own miso and gradually taught the process to people throughout the country, until in the hearts of many, the flavor of miso and the "flavor" of Zen became the same. In times of famine, the miso stored in large quantities in most farmhouses and city homes served as a lifesaving staple. Soon the saying miso sae areba , "Everything's alright as long as there is miso," came to be heard everywhere. Hence it was under the new Buddhist influence of the Kamakura period that the consumption of hishio containing fish or animal-derived products steadily declined, and that grain-and-soybean-based miso began to play its important role in the Japanese diet.

One new type of miso introduced to Japan during the Kamakura period was Kinzanji miso. In about AD 1255 the Japanese Buddhist monk Kakushin returned to Japan from China, where, according to the most widely held theory, he had learned to make this miso at Kinzanji, the Temple of the Golden Mountain, one of China's five great Sung dynasty Zen centers. This delectable, chunky, rather sweet miso contained a large percentage of barley koji plus minced eggplant, gingerroot, white uri melon, kombu (sea vegetable), and burdock root. Kakushin taught the method of Kinzanji preparation to the people of Yuasa in Wakayama prefecture, where the same ancient technique is used to this day. Yuasa has since become a famous center of shoyu production as well, and legend has it that shoyu's earliest progenitor, tamari, was discovered as the dark, fragrant liquid left over at the bottom or top of the Kinzanji barrel. A second theory holds that Kinzanji was transmitted to Japan by the Ch'i-min yao-shu in about 1650. A third theory suggests that it originated from the practice of soaking vegetables in hishio to make "vegetable hishio" ( kusa-bishio ).

The historical connection between miso, tamari, and shoyu that started in Japan in about 1200 in Yuasa bears further examination. The term tamari derives from the verb tamaru, meaning "to accumulate," as "water accumulates in ponds." Originally the word tamari was written with the two characters shown below. The character on the left, to , means "soybean," and the one on the right, yu means "a liquid extracted by filtering or pressing."

[2 characters]

Later, however, a new character, the one used today, was adopted; it is the right-hand character in the word miso-damari, shown below. By 1260 tamari was being prepared for home consumption in the nearby towns of Yuasa and Hiromachi, and by 1290 the first Yuasa tamari, still a by-product of Kinzanji miso, is said to have been sold commercially, although no early documents exist. The tamari was always removed by either filtering or ladling, never pressing, as that would ruin the miso. Pressing the miso originated during the Muromachi (1336-1568), a period noted for its opulence. The term miso-damari , referring to the rich liquid tamari removed from miso, seems to have originated during the 1500s, when it came to be prepared and prized by the monks living in the five major temples of Kyoto.

[3 characters]


The word shoyu did not appear until a very late date, being first mentioned in a Japanese dictionary ( Ekirin Bonsetsu Yoshu ), published in 1597, but thought to have been written by a priest sometime between 1469 and 1503 and widely circulated in manuscript form.

[2 characters]


The Muromachi Period (1336-1568) . During the Muromachi period, the seat of government returned to the Kyoto area and some of the formality, splendor, and aristocratic feeling of the Heian period was revived. But the period as a whole was characterized by social chaos and civil war. The famous samurai Takeda Shingen (1521-1573), lord of a large fief in the Shinshu area north of Tokyo, was the first to recognize miso's full potential as a soldier's food. Long-lasting, inexpensive, and highly nutritious, it took only minutes to make it into a warming soup. To ensure that his men had a large supply of it wherever they went, Takeda taught farmers throughout Shinshu to plant soybeans and process them into miso. The preparation of homemade miso soon flourished throughout the area and gradually spread to other nearby provinces. During the 16th century miso shops attached to private homes appeared in urban areas and gradually every region developed its own techniques and new varieties, which often came to be called by such lofty names as "morality" or "Bodhidharma" miso. (Bodhidharma was a famous Indian monk who founded the Ch'an or Zen school of Buddhism in China.) Documents of this period show frequent references to miso in plays, stories and songs, indicating that it was not only a popular food but an integral and intimate part of the social fabric.

The Muromachi period saw the development of two new varieties of miso; Hatcho and sweet white. Oral tradition has it that Hatcho was first prepared as early as 1370, but scholars generally place the date somewhere between the late 1400s and early 1500s. A kabuki drama tells of how Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536-1598), the child of poor farmers in central Japan's Aichi prefecture, rose to become of Japan's most powerful feudal lords. When only ten years old, the child is said to have fallen asleep one night on a bridge near his home, wrapped only in a straw mat. A famous robber passing over the bridge scornfully kicked the urchin, who awoke and intrepidly grabbed the man's spear commanding him to stop such cruelty. The robber, impressed with the boy's courage, decided to raise him as his own son. In the play, the straw mat bears the trademark of one of the nearby Hatcho miso shops where it was used to prepare koji. Historians cite the incident to prove that Hatcho miso was being made as early as 1546. (The shop uses the same trademark to this day.) Later records show that by 1590, when Tokugawa Ieyasu left for the frontier town of Edo to found his new capital, both of Japan's present Hatcho miso makers were doing a thriving business.

Although some scholars support the previously mentioned theory that sweet white miso was transmitted from the Chinese to the Japanese capital during the Nara period, most believe that the present product was developed by Kyoto craftsmen during the 14th and 15th centuries to suit the tastes of the indolent court nobility. It is interesting to note that both Hatcho and sweet white miso still retain a certain high-class image, a reflection, perhaps, of the era in which they originated.

In the late 1300s one of Japan's most famous miso recipes, Dengaku, is said to have originated, probably in rural villages. Miso spread on tofu was broiled over an open fire, as described in Chapter 6 BOM??. Dengaku first became popular throughout Japan in the early 1600s and by 1775 was served in fashionable tea shops in Kyoto and Tokyo.

By the 15th century, the most widely available varieties of miso are said to have finally lost their luxury status and made their way into the homes of the common people. Yet at the same time, miso emerged as an essential and esteemed ingredient in the more famous schools of Japanese haute cuisine. Under the wise guidance of Sen-no-Rikyu, shojin cookery was carried to its peak of refinement and subtlety in Tea Ceremony Cuisine ( Kaiseki Ryori ). It was in these newly emerging schools of fine cookery that sweet simmered, broiled, yuzu , and kinome ^?? miso, together with many other of Japan's finest miso preparations, were first developed. From its earliest beginnings in simple peasant fare, miso now rose to attain the same level of honor among the people that it had enjoyed among the Japanese palace nobility eight centuries earlier, and that its predecessor jiang had enjoyed in China's imperial household 12 centuries before that.

Mention of miso was made in many cookbooks during this period. A work (the pronunciation of whose title is unknown) of 1467 discussed miso soup and its popularization. The Hocho Kikigaki (1487) discussed taremiso^??. The Shijoryu Hochogaki (1489) talked of taremiso^??, usutare^??, and surimiso. The Ogusaden Yori Soden no Kikigaki (1504) described sumashi miso, taremiso^??, and suri hishio.

The year 1593 is usually given as the year in which Sendai miso originated. Originally it was made for the soldiers of the great feudal lord and soldier Ida Masamune, and as a reserve food during times of famine. That same year they took Sendai miso to Korea (Ichiyama 1968).

The Edo or Tokugawa Period (1603-1867) . In 1603 the capital of Japan was moved from Kamakura to Edo (later renamed Tokyo), where the Tokugawa Shoguns established Japan's longest period of stability and peace. Miso made commercially in the town of Shimousa and Saitama was sold in the huge markets of the new capital city. Because supply was insufficient to meet demand, however, the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, imported his favorite soybean and Hatcho miso by boat from his native town in central Japan. Although miso was consumed in increasingly large amounts, a number of factors prevented the many small miso makers of the period from growing into large-scale companies. First, miso, generally packed into large wooden kegs, was heavy and bulky, and the lack of good roads or river routes made long distance distribution difficult and expensive. And, perhaps more important, people enjoyed preparing their own miso at home at very little cost, making it difficult to price commercial miso competitively. Indeed, there was a saying popular at the time that a family that did not make its own miso would never have its own treasury-storehouse ( kura ), and many considered it a source of embarrassment if they had to use miso which they had not made themselves. Furthermore, most people preferred the flavor of the homemade or locally made product. Nevertheless, urbanization sped miso's commercialization and many of Japan's larger cities developed their own varieties. Here miso was first sold at sake stores; only later did outlets specializing in miso and miso pickles come into existence.

It was during this period that many farmers and small miso-shop operators, who had formerly made only soybean miso, began to experiment with the use of barley or rice koji in order to obtain a wider variety of flavors. In the capital at Edo during the 1600s, the three most popular varieties were Sendai red miso, barley miso made in nearby Saitama prefecture, and the hometown specialty Edo sweet red miso. Salty rice miso was developed throughout the northeastern provinces and in the Shinshu area north of the capital, both salty and sweet barley miso were produced in Kyushu and at the southern tip of Japan's main island, and new varieties of sweet white miso emerged in the Kyoto-Nara area. As grain koji became more widely used, the traditional practice of forming cooked soybeans into balls was abandoned in many areas and the grain koji was fermented in wooden trays.

By the early Tokugawa period, the first reports of Japanese miso had begun to reach Europe. The Italian Carletti mentioned it in 1597 (Carletti 1701, 1964), the German Kaempfer gave a detailed account of its production in 1691-92 (Kaempfer 1712, Bening 1951), and Thunberg mentioned it in passing in 1795.

When the Chinese Zen master Ingen (founder of the famous Obaku sect) came to Japan in 1661, he was surprised to find miso totally different from the jiang he had known in his native country. Becoming extremely fond of it, he is said to have enjoyed miso soup each day and used it as an effective substitute for a Chinese herbal medicine that he had taken for many years.

In the early 1800s, Hokusai (1760-1849) did a nice woodblock print of a cedar vat, the type widely used until the 1970s for making miso and shoyu.


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