History of Soy Sauce, Shoyu, and Tamari - Page 5

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A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and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 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, Californi

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Shoyu During the Meiji Period (1868-1911). The Meiji period, following more than 250 years of Japanese isolation under the Tokugawa shoguns, ushered in an era of dramatic changes, including modernization, Westernization, and the introduction of science, including the new science of microbiology. Japanese students were sent abroad to acquire Western knowledge, and Western experts were invited to come to Japan to teach. The first Japanese emigrants sailed to Hawaii in April 1868, taking with them several hundred barrels each?? of shoyu and miso, thus reinaugurating exports of these products.

The Meiji period introduced great changes into the world of Japanese shoyu. Production increased rapidly through industrialization, especially in Noda and Choshi. In 1871 a sweeping political reorganization took place; the old system of feudal domains ( han ) controlled by feudal lords ( daimyo ) was replaced by a new prefectural ( ken ) system. Without the protection of their lords, coupled with their lack of innovation (caused in part by their pride and unwillingness to learn from others), small scale of operation, and the often part-time nature of their work, the makers of Yuasa shoyu (and to a lesser extent Tatsuno shoyu) found difficulty competing in the new economy. At about that time a new center of shoyu production started on Shodo Island, off the coast of Osaka. It soon thrived, serving local markets by boat. In Yuasa, the number of shoyu makers declined from 90 in the early 1800s to 33 in the 1870s; the largest three of the latter period made only 82-164 kiloliters (kl) of shoyu a year, while the smallest nine made less than 18 kl. In 1897 total shoyu production in Arita county ( gun ), of which Yuasa was a part, was only 2,980 kl, as compared with about 10,000 kl made at Noda. In 1899 the Yuasa shoyu makers formed a cartel and opened up new markets in Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto, and overseas. But progress stagnated and before long Yuasa, once the leading area, was no longer a significant factor in Japanese shoyu production (Ando et al. 1954).

Meanwhile in the Tokyo area, the industry was expanding and innovating rapidly. In the "flower-willow world" of the geisha girls, shoyu was starting to be known as murasaki (literally "purple"), a name still used in high-class Tokyo restaurants and sushi shops. An important new factor in growth was the switch by large manufacturers from seasonal to year-round (except summer) production, starting in the late 1850s and 1860s. The seasonal pattern for large makers was not completely broken until the years between the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Some small shoyu plants in other parts of Japan kept their seasonal character until the 1930s. Shoyu was traditionally never started during the summer, for at least three reasons: (1) there were too many foreign microorganisms in the air; (2) it was difficult to vent the carbon dioxide out of the koji incubation room; and (3) the warmer air temperature caused a rapid decrease?? of mash acidity and rapid inactivation of enzymes, giving the resulting shoyu a 5-10% lower nitrogen content and a poorer flavor. It was not until about the 1920s that technical advances made it possible to produce koji and shoyu during the summer. These included new incubation room designs and control of temperature, humidity, and starter culture flora, plus the use of chilled brine when making moromi mash.

The shoyu makers guild at Noda had grown substantially in number of members and total shoyu output, which topped 10,000 kl in the late 1800s, as the Noda share of the national market topped 4%. In 1873 Kikkoman shoyu won a prize at the World's Fair in Austria, then won second- and first-place medals at the All-Japan Industry Promotion Fairs of 1877 and 1881. But most important, in 1887, roughly 12 owners of some 19 different family-run shoyu plants in Noda joined to form a cartel, the Noda Shoyu Jozo Kumiai. This eventually evolved into the world's largest shoyu-making company, Kikkoman Inc., as described in Chapter 74. One important purpose of the cartel was to try to develop a new and better distribution system for reaching the Tokyo market. This set off a 10-year struggle with the established distributors, which ended with the defeat of the Noda group in 1889. The shoyu makers at Choshi were the arch rivals of those at Noda, and both groups were about the same size in 1887. In 1867 Tanaka Genba was the largest maker in Choshi; he produced 507 kl a year with a work force of 80, (still in business in 1914). Yet the market share of the Choshi shoyu makers began to slip, since it took them 5-7 days and extra expense to ship their products to Tokyo (as compared with one day from Noda), since they were less innovative with new production and marketing methods, and since there was rivalry between the two main Choshi makers.

As discussed in Chapter 33, the 1870s and 1880s saw the introduction to Japan by Western scientists of the scientific method and vital new discoveries in the fields of microbiology and food fermentation. These revolutionized the study of shoyu (and other Japanese fermented foods) and ushered in the modern scientific era of shoyu research. Suddenly chemical, microbiological, and nutritional studies began to supplement and supplant the trial-and-error and sensory methods used prior to the 1870s. Important early studies by Westerners on koji and shoyu were published by Hoffmann (1874), Korschelt (1878), Ahlburg (1878), Atkinson (1881b), Cohn (1884), Rein (1889??), Kellner et al. (1889), Kellner (1893), and Loew (1897). These are discussed in detail under "Koji??" in Chapter 33 or under "Early European and American References" later in this chapter.

Most of Japan's highly paid, imported European professors had bright Japanese students, who quickly learned Western scientific techniques and began doing their own original research and publishing it in both Japanese and Western publications, although the earliest scientific studies on shoyu and koji (prior to 1884-87) were all by Europeans. In addition, shoyu makers began to do their own research. Mr. Shichirouemon Mogi of Noda built a small research center on his premises and became a leading figure in the new developments. Several new and more scientific books on shoyu production were published: in October 1884 Shin Shoyu, Sake Hijutsu Kaimeisho ("New Guide to Making Shoyu and Sake"), and in December 1884 Yueki Shoyu Seizoho Hiketsu ("Secrets of Making Fine, Profitable Shoyu"). The first journal articles about shoyu by Japanese researchers appeared in the late 1800s. Some of the earliest were investigations of the digestibility and nutritional value of shoyu, consumed with other typical foods; all were done on human subjects. These included studies by Osawa and Ueda done in 1885 and published in 1887, then by Osawa in 1889, and by Kano and Iishima in 1899. The results were nicely summarized by Oshima in 1905. Other researchers investigated the chemical composition and flavor of shoyu. Tahara?? (1887) did the first of many studies on shoyu flavor. Tahara and Kitao (1887) did the first investigations of the composition of shoyu, including the various forms of nitrogen in shoyu; they found 0.43% alcohol to be present (see also Chapter 22). Nishimura (1897) studied the chemical changes during shoyu fermentation. He attributed shoyu's aroma to the gradual buildup of alcohol. Other related studies were done by Furukawa (1890), Nagai and Murai (1893), Shimada (1894), and Murai (1895). Nagai and Murai (1897) published analyses of the nitrogen and protein content of shoyu.

Even prior to 1900 this academic and industrial research led to improvements in the shoyu manufacturing process. Up until 1878 all koji had been inoculated naturally by spores in the air or in koji boxes. That year a new concept called tomo koji started to be used experimentally at Noda. Tomo koji was good koji from a previous fermentation that was used as a koji inoculum. Soon it was being used in actual production. In the late 1880s soybeans started to be steamed in semi-pressurized containers called shikake-gama . These consisted of a 360-gallon metal caldron set on a platform over a fire chamber and having a wooden lid bolted down to the platform. These were the forerunners of all metal pressure cookers introduced several decades later. At about the same time thermometers began to be used to measure temperatures in the koji incubation rooms. Innovations were made on the huge, clumsy lever presses made from tree trunks weighted at one end by rocks; the new lever presses used pulleys instead of rocks to pull down the lever end. Later, in about 1900, these were replaced by hand-turned screw presses or ratchet presses. Stone mills for cracking the roasted wheat were replaced by pedal-powered steel roller mills.

After 1895 coal began to replace wood and pine needles as a fuel for cooking the soybeans and roasting wheat, and large amounts of soybeans began to be imported from Manchuria and Korea.

With the dawn of the 20th century, major changes were taking place in all parts of the shoyu industry. The number of shoyu producers was growing dramatically. Prior to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, there were less than 3,000 shoyu makers in all Japan??, but in 1897 Nishimura reported that there were nearly 10,000 and by 1890 there were an estimated 30,000; records show that 2 years later 14,000 shoyu makers paid taxes on their production. (Shoyu taxes, which started in the early Meiji period to help pay the heavy expenses of modernization, were eliminated in 1926.) An estimated 75% of these were essentially household producers (Fruin 1983). The Japan Year Book reported that in 1906-07 some 300,000 kl of shoyu were produced in Japan. But Bloch noted that more than twice this much was made on a household scale and not reported in the official figures (Bois 1927). In 1905 the leading prefectures and their percentages of national shoyu production were Chiba (which included Noda and Choshi, 14.3%), Hyogo (which included Tatsuno, 7.0%), Aichi (6.2%), and Wakayama (which included Yuasa, 1.9%). By 1930 Chiba prefecture had grown to control a whopping 32.9% of national production. In the 20 years from 1890-1910, Japanese shoyu production almost doubled from 210,000 to 390,000 kl, and annual per capita consumption jumped from about 5.2 to 7.9 liters.

Exports, although only 1 or 2% of total shoyu production, were also increasing. In 1903, Japan was shipping 2,281 kl of shoyu to Europe and America; it was worth $205,000 and much of it was Kikkoman brand. By 1907 the figure had more than doubled to 5,087 kl, worth $541,000 (Piper and Morse 1923).

The first article by a Japanese about shoyu to appear in any European language was published in 1897, more than 20 years after the earliest Western scientific articles. In 1897 Nishimura (in English) published "The Chemistry of Soja Sauce Manufacture," an excellent work. He noted that one shoyu factory in Tokyo (Asamasa at Nakano) employed 250 workmen to make 4,500 kl of shoyu a year, summarized many studies on the chemical composition of shoyu, and described in detail each of the steps in the shoyu-making process and their chemical and microbiological changes. He noted that, for inoculating koji in a new incubation room, spores were available, sold under the name of tane koji , and that "the whole ripening process (of the moromi mash) consisted principally in the action of powerful enzymes of Aspergillus oryzae ." He was especially interested in finding a way to shorten the fermentation process by thoroughly milling the roasted wheat and boiled soybeans to allow faster enzymatic digestion, incubating the moromi mash at 30-35°C for about 5 weeks, and adding about 2% alcohol near the end (in the form of sake or nigori, crude sake) to provide the alcohol ordinarily developed slowly during natural fermentation. In this way, Nishimura made the first "quick shoyu," which "acquired a very agreeable odour and taste like that of common soja sauce," and was also almost identical in chemical composition. He also urged the introduction of steam power and other modern appliances to shoyu manufacture.

In 1905 Oshima published "The Soybean and Its Preparations," which was partly a summary of nutritional studies published in Japanese. The first person in the world to use the English term "soy sauce," Oshima also noted that: (1) the fermentation was usually 1-2 years, although often as long as 5 years, with a longer time giving a better quality product; (2) heat treatment of the finished product was done at 70-100°C in a double boiler for 2-3 hours; and (3) to improve the flavor, sugar and thick sake were typically added during heat treatment. Three analyses showed that shoyu averaged 9.32% protein and 16.4% salt. Barley was sometimes used in place of wheat. Oshima gave detailed national production statistics. Also in 1905 K. Saito, already an eminent Japanese microbiologist from the plant physiology laboratory at the Botanical Institute of Tokyo Imperial University, published "Microbiological Studies on the Brewing of Japanese Soja-Sauce" in English. One of the first good microbiological studies on shoyu, it enumerated the organisms active in shoyu manufacture, including three molds, two bacteria, and two yeasts. In 1906 Saito greatly expanded his presentation in a 3-part, 24-page article in German titled "Microbiological Studies on the Preparation of Shoyu." He started with a detailed description of the three-step shoyu manufacturing process then used in Choshi, and discussed the basic fermentation processes: the hydrolysis of proteins and breaking down of the grain starches into sugars by the enzymes from the koji mold ( Aspergillus oryzae ); the buildup of lactic acid in the moromi mash by bacteria; and the subsequent development of alcohol and aromatic (chemical or descriptive??) compounds by the action of yeasts. He noted that it had not yet been confirmed if there was a connection between the alcohol and shoyu's unique aroma. He then isolated and identified seven species of molds ( Aspergillus oryzae , Rhizopus spp. etc.), five species of yeasts ( Saccharomyces , Mycoderma , and Torula spp.), and four species of bacteria ( Bacterium ??, Sarcina , and Bacillus spp.). He was the first to study these salt-tolerant bacteria and yeasts, and his work led to many subsequent taxonomic studies on soy yeasts (Mitsuda 1910; Nishimura 1910 Ref??; Kita 1911). Takahashi and Yukawa (1911-14) showed that two Zygosaccharomyces species were useful in ripening the mash, while two other Zygosaccharomyces species were harmful and formed deleterious surface films. Saito also studied the molds in the tamari (he did not say "tamari shoyu") fermentation.

From Saito's 1906 description of how shoyu was made, it was clear that the process and equipment used at Choshi had not changed much since the early 1700s. Koji starter was still not being used, being seen as unnecessary. It is interesting to note that the roasted wheat was now cracked with a roller, the typical fermentation time was 12-15 months (no mention was made of 3-5 years), and the shoyu was pasteurized at 50°C (122°F), a surprisingly low temperature.

In 1907 Suzuki, Aso, and Mitarai reported on the composition of shoyu. In 1909 reports were published in Japanese by Yoshimura on the composition of tamari-shoyu, by Mitsuda on the carbohydrates in shoyu, and by K. Saito on spore formation in shoyu yeasts. The same year English- or European­language journal articles solely about shoyu were published by Mitsuda on the yeasts of shoyu mash and the carbohydrates of shoyu, by Yoshimura on the chemical composition of tamari-shoyu, and by Takahashi on the varieties of Aspergillus oryzae used in making shoyu. In 1910 Suzuki and Furuya reported on the changes occurring during shoyu fermentation. During 1910 and 1911 Mitsuda, Nishimura, Kita, Takahashi and Yukawa, and others published studies on the shoyu yeasts. Salt-tolerant Zygosaccharomyces species were found (Yokotsuka 1960??).

Subsequent research based on that of Saito and his immediate successors?? showed that the bacteria and yeasts in shoyu were salt-tolerant, osmophilic varieties. "Osmophilic," a term coined by Richter in 1912, refers to their ability to grow in an environment of high osmotic pressure induced by dissolved salt or sugar. The shoyu salt solution effectively, almost sentiently, excluded undesirable microorganisms. Almost all the primary yeasts, initially referred to as Zygosaccharomyces species, were later included in one species, Saccharomyces rouxii , by Lodder and van Rij's system (1952 Ref??). The key bacteria were identified as Pediococcus soyae by Matsumoto (1925 Ref??). They produced a vigorous lactic fermentation. Then when the pH drops to 5.5, the salt-tolerant S. rouxii and some Torulopsis took over and produced an alcoholic fermentation.

Important early research on shoyu was done by Professor Genitsu Kita of the Technical Institute of Tokyo Imperial University. In 1911 he wrote "Investigations On Shoyu Brewing," in 1912 "The Main Yeasts in Shoyu Mash," and in 1913 "The Japanese Shoyu Industry." The latter two reports were in German and that of 1913 contained the most detailed and complete description of the shoyu-making process to date.

This extensive research on shoyu led, as one might expect, to a major round of new changes in the manufacturing process after 1900. In 1904 the shoyu cartel at Noda opened one of the first industrial research and development labs in Japan, and by 1907 they were propagating koji starter culture and distributing it among their members, to replace tomo koji (good koji from a previous batch used as a starter). The most dramatic early change in the shoyu process and scale was made by a maverick entrepreneur named Tosaburo Suzuki, who wanted to dominate the shoyu industry in much the same way he already dominated Japan's sugar refining industry. He had found a potential market for his products in the Japanese army. After carefully studying the shoyu fermentation process and the possible techniques for making quick shoyu, in 1904 he applied for a patent for a new vat which could be warmed to accelerate the fermentation process. In 1907, after testing samples of his propose product, he established the Japan Shoyu Brewing Company (Nihon Shoyu Jozo K.K.) with a capitalization of 10 million yen, then opened two giant factories, one in the Tokyo area and one in the Osaka area, to make shoyu by his new process. Soon he was churning out 540,000 kl of shoyu a year, which was three times the current capacity of the Noda cartel! He sold his product under colorful Japanese names (examples??) at four different prices, thereby blitzing the market, and terrifying his competitors. Fortunately for the latter it was discovered in 1910, during a routine government food inspection, that the shoyu from Suzuki's Osaka plant contained excessive/illegal?? amounts of saccharin, used to shorten the fermentation process. Newspapers dramatized the problem under the headline "EVIDENCE OF FRAUDULENT SHOYU," and in the face of the outcry by the press and small shoyu makers, Suzuki was forced to recall his shoyu, load it into boats, and dump it into Osaka Bay, where it is said to have turned the waters reddish brown. But the worst was yet to come, for in the spring of 1911 Suzuki's Osaka plant burned to the ground. By November the high-flying, modern shoyu company was forced to declare bankruptcy. Suzuki's demise brought a collective sigh of relief from shoyu makers throughout Japan. For the astute among them, however, the lessons of his meteoric success were not lost (Fruin 1983; Kita 1913; Yokotsuka 1960).

Many companies devised ways to shorten the fermentation time while still using the traditional process. How?? Yet despite the extensive scientific research on shoyu during the early 1900s, by the end of the Meiji period in 1912, shoyu typically continued to be fermented and aged for 1-3 years (Yokotsuka 1969); at Noda and Choshi the time was generally 18-22 months. (Ref??). In 1909 the first partially mechanized shoyu plant at Noda was built. Boilers were installed in 1911. That same year the Noda shoyu makers started to ship their product by railway, which quickly gave them national distribution potential and greatly expanded the scope of their operations.

Defatted soybean meal was first used in making shoyu in about 1910, after the Russo-Japanese War. The war gave Japan some control in Manchuria, where large amounts of this presscake were made as a co-product of the rapidly expanding soy oil industry. Since the cartwheel-shaped presscakes sold for much less than whole soybeans and since the oil remaining in shoyu after its fermentation had to be discarded anyway after pressing, the defatted meal or flakes began to be used in Japan on a test basis, mixed together with a majority of whole soybeans. The total and percentage use of defatted meal gradually increased, especially after the 1920s, when the great majority of Japan's defatted meal, long used as a fertilizer, was largely replaced by chemical fertilizer (ammonium sulfate), and therefore dropped in price. It was later found that the use of defatted meal made it possible to reduce the shoyu fermentation time by about one-third (from 15-10 months) and that the nitrogen utilization (the amount of nitrogen in the beans that ended up in the shoyu) was sometimes higher. However there was a great difference between shoyu made from defatted and from whole beans. The latter was more stable than the former (Yokotsuka 1960).

Shoyu from 1912-1945 . During the Taisho period (1912-1926), the changes toward modernization and mechanization of the shoyu process, which had started between Japan's two wars in East Asia and were accelerated by World War I, continued to accelerate. These are discussed in Kita's excellent article "The Japanese Shoyu Industry," written in 1913. In addition to the use by some of the more advanced plants of steel roller mills, inoculation with koji starter, and in some cases gentle heating of the moromi mash to decrease fermentation time, Kita also noted that: (1) the soybeans in some plants were steamed under 2 atmospheres of pressure, and the switch to pressure steaming was spreading; (2) the various types of enzymes (proteolytic, diastatic, etc.) were understood and this knowledge was used in improving the process; (3) compressed air had started to be used in place of a pole for stirring the mash; and (4) screw presses and hydraulic presses had largely replaced log lever presses for extracting the shoyu. Kita mentioned that using defatted soybeans was thought to lower the quality of the shoyu; he showed that the problem lay not in the defatted meal itself but in the way it had been defatted. He urged decreasing the shoyu fermentation time, even if a little of the aroma was lost. And he noted that in addition to the two basic types of shoyu, that made with wheat and soy, and that made with just soy, some special varieties were also produced, as by adding the flesh of cuttlefish or squid; and it was quite common to add sugar or other sweeteners and molasses or other colorings to low-grade shoyu.

The period during World War I was one of consolidation for the shoyu industry. In 1914 three of the larger manufacturers at Choshi (Higeta, Zigamisa??, and Kagidai) merged to become Choshi Shoyu Co. Ltd. In 1917 eight (later nine) major manufacturers in Noda, all related by descent or marriage, withdrew from the Noda cartel and joined to form a corporation, the Noda Shoyu Company, Ltd., which later became Kikkoman Inc. The company began operations on 1 January 1918, and quickly modernized its entire organization. In 1925 it restructured itself by amalgamating four related companies under the control of a holding company, thus greatly increasing its capital and scope. In 1918 Choshi Shoyu Co. changed from a limited partnership to a stock corporation and adopted a common trademark, Higeta. The Hamaguchi family, originally from Kishu, which ran Yamasa in Choshi, chose not to join the Choshi Shoyu Co. Rather, in 1928 they incorporated as the Yamasa Shoyu Co., Inc.

An important innovation in shoyu marketing began in 1914 when Saheiji Mogi in Noda introduced commercial shoyu in 1.8-liter glass bottles. Actually, shoyu is said to have first been bottled by Japanese in the late 1850s by the lord of Shimazu domain, who shipped it overseas. In 1872 Kokubo Shoten sold 250 bottles of shoyu to the lord of Nabeshima, who took them with him to Russia. In 1873 Kikkoman displayed its shoyu in bottles at the famous exhibition in Vienna, Austria. In 1898 in Noda, Seihachi Matsumoto bought three brands of the Takanashi family's shoyu, bottled them in beer bottles, and sold them in Noda only, largely for use as gifts. Yet Mogi's bottled shoyu in 1914 was the first to be widely sold on a large scale; the bottling, in black bottles, was subcontracted at first, but was done at the plant after 1922. At this time, sake was also first sold in bottles, rather than the traditional wooden kegs like shoyu. At first, Japanese apparently did not like the new bottled shoyu or sake as well as that sold in kegs; they said it had a funny bottled taste. But marketing efforts persisted and gradually the bottled products were accepted. In 1930 who?? opened its first factory making ?? shoyu bottles.

Research on shoyu during this period grew more specialized. Takahashi and Yamamoto (1913) reported on Aspergillus oryzae in shoyu and tamari manufacture. In 1915 Yukawa discussed tyrosine in shoyu-making and in 1917 he reported on the carbohydrates of the soybean and their relation to the brewing of shoyu. In 1917 Kinoshita, studying the yield of various shoyu components, included practical information on factory coefficients. (what??) In 1913?? Togano?? wrote an elaborate (1088-page) tome, Principles of Modern Shoyu Brewing ; in it he first introduced the use of pure-culture Aspergillus oryzae as a starter. He also (1931) recommended fermenting the proteins and carbohydrates separately in a warm chamber. Yet according to Li (1948), although Togano's method reduced the fermentation time to one-fourth of what it was traditionally, the flavor of the product was not as delicate as that of its traditional counterpart.

During the 1920s a development in shoyu production took place that was to have a major effect on soy sauce production worldwide thereafter. The first hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) started to be used as an ingredient in low-cost shoyu. By 1924 HVP was widely used for shoyu-making in western Japan. HVP and the chemical hydrolysis of proteins originated in Europe and industrial production was pioneered in 1886 by Maggi in Switzerland. The first commercial Maggi product based on HVP, a liquid seasoning, was meant as an alternative for the popular Liebig's meat extract. Mixed with fats and salt, and frequently also with meat extract, HVP was also widely used in Europe in bouillon cubes.

In Japan, industrial interest in HVP grew sharply after 1908 when Ikeda, a Japanese researcher Tokyo University, attempted to isolate from shoyu the constituents responsible for its good flavor. In the process he discovered glutamic acid or its salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG) (which??) to be the principal flavoring constituent of shoyu. (Glutamic acid has a sour taste, while MSG is a neutral-tasting flavor intensifier.) Ikeda (Ref??) then developed a method for isolating glutamic acid from soybeans that had been hydrolyzed with hydrochloric acid. In 1908 he obtained a Japanese patent on the process and, with his friend S. Suzuki, built a pilot plant for making MSG at Zushi, 20 miles southwest of Tokyo. In 1914 a full-scale plant was built at Kawasaki, 8 miles south of Tokyo. The Ajinomoto Co., Inc. began making Aji-no-moto ("essence of taste") and HVP from either defatted soybean meal or wheat gluten. In the early years, the liquid hydrolysate (HVP) was partially neutralized, a crop of glutamic acid crystals removed, and the remaining tan hydrolysate liquid was then used in making chemical soy sauce, often being mixed with the second pressing of the soy sauce ( bansui ). Thus the Ajinomoto Co. was responsible for first using HVP to make soy sauce, and for developing this new product. (But did ANM actually make the HVP sauce??) Later, to give a more flavorful product, the HVP liquid was used without removing the MSG crystals. By 1923 Ajinomoto Co. was making 40 tons?? of MSG a month and large amounts of HVP liquid for chemical shoyu (Smith 1949). Some shoyu makers mixed with HVP the traditional mash to reduce fermentation time and increase the shoyu yield and glutamic acid content. Some shoyu factories made their own HVP. The new HVP shoyu, which sold for a lower price than traditional shoyu and was considered to be inferior in quality, came to be known as "HVP soy sauce" or "chemical soy sauce."

By the 1930s the process had spread to other countries in East Asia. In 1935 Chow did a review of the chemistry and manufacture of chemical soy sauce in mainland China. Also by 1931 the Japanese had developed a process for chemically hydrolyzing the raw materials then fermenting them with an Aspergillus mold, but since the resulting shoyu was of mediocre quality, the process was not widely used. Improved methods were developed during the 1950s.

During the mid-1920s, to promote shoyu research, a Section of Soy Sauce was opened in the Brewery Laboratory under the control of the Japanese Ministry of Finance (Horvath 1927). Also during the 1920s, some larger makers of quality shoyu stopped mixing salt water with their shoyu presscake and thus stopped making low-quality number 2 shoyu ( bansui ). Noda Shoyu Co. (Kikkoman) upgraded their line by stopping production of this bansui in 1927. The use of hydraulic presses had helped to obviate the second pressing.

During his 1929-31 trip to Japan, William Morse made some interesting observations concerning Japanese shoyu. He considered the Japanese product to be much better than Chinese soy sauce, and noted that chemical soy sauce was very cheap and used largely by the lower classes. One brand, Soyamint, containing half chemical and half fermented soy sauce, took only one month to make. Barley was sometimes used in place of wheat to make a sweeter shoyu. Hishio was sold commercially in jars. On a visit to Kikkoman in Noda Morse reported that 1,500 cement vats (each 12 by 12 by 3 feet deep) in one room were used, replacing their traditional cedar counterparts, to ferment and age the mash for 1 l/2 years. Kikkoman told Morse that their first shoyu had been brewed in 1764 in Noda by Mr. Saheiji Mogi (Dorsett and Morse 1928-31).

The first studies on the amino acids of shoyu were done by Omura in 1931 Ref?? The same year?? (No! see 1908), Udo first identified glutamic acid in shoyu and showed its importance as a flavoring agent. In analyzing the chemical composition of mashes aged for varying periods of time at ambient temperatures, he found that glutamic acid reached its maximum concentration after about 15 months, and then started to decrease. Udo concluded that the optimum aging period could be determined by analyzing shoyu's free glutamic acid content. With shoyu made from defatted soybeans, Umeda et al. (1935 Ref??) found that the maximum was reached after 10-11 months.

An interesting article on Kikkoman shoyu by Food Manufacture magazine (1933) showed handsome photos of soybeans and wheat being mixed on the clean plant floor. The moromi, contained in 1,500 concrete tanks per room, had part of a previous batch of moromi added to the mixture to enhance fermentation. It was mixed with compressed air daily in summer and twice a week in winter, and took 18 months to mature.

Shoyu exports from Japan between 1870 and 1950 are shown in figure ??. During the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), when Japan was closed to most trade, export of shoyu was virtually nil. Chinese traders took advantage of this opportunity and by the late 1800s Chinese-style soy sauce had become popular worldwide. Exports of Japanese shoyu started again in the 1860s with the Meiji restoration. There was a rapid rise from 1890-1906, a sharp decline after World War I, then a meteoric rise from 1934-1939, as Japan exported largely to its growing new empire in East Asia. Yet even in the peak year of 1939, when 28,800 kl were exported, this was only 4.5% of the total national production of 640,000 kl. In 1939 about 6.8% of the exports went to the US (over 99% of this was Kikkoman shoyu), 5.2% went to Hawaii, 46.2% went to Japanese-controlled yen-block countries in East Asia (Korea, Taiwan, Karafuto), and most of the rest went to other East Asian countries. By contrast, in 1924, 34.2% of exports went to the US, 18.4% went to Hawaii, 37.8% went to East Asia, and only 1.7% went to Europe. Total 1924 exports were 11,143 kl. Increasingly during the 1930s both domestic and exported shoyu were sold in bottles.

By 1937 the Japanese shoyu industry showed considerable market concentration, with the ten largest companies controlling 28.2% of the national production of about 610,000 kl; there were about 7,000 shoyu producers nationwide. The five largest companies and their respective market shares were Noda Shoyu (later Kikkoman; 12.6%), Yamasa Shoyu (4.2%), Choshi Shoyu (Higeta; 3.3%), Marukin Shoyu (2.4%), Tatsuno Shoyu (2.1%). These were still the top five in 1949 (Fruin 1983).

The Japanese shoyu industry experienced hard times during World War II which, for Japan, started in 1937, when they invaded Peking/Beijing and Shanghai. In 1939 the Japanese government began to control the price of shoyu through the newly formed Public Distribution Corp., and in 1940 it required that defatted soybeans be substituted for whole ones; this allowed the oil to be extracted first and not wasted in the shoyu, and the meal was less expensive and more efficient. At about the same time, quick-fermented shoyu made by heated fermentation started to be widely produced. After 1942, as Japan began to lose the war and supplies of shoyu raw materials grew scarce, production plummeted, dropping from a peak of 730,000 kl in 1941 to a low of 330,000 kl in 1947. Likewise annual per capita consumption dropped from 10.1 liters in 1941 to 4.2 liters in 1947 (Fig. ??).

To cope with the shortage of basic raw materials, new methods were developed and new materials used. In 1942 steamed (unroasted) wheat bran with a little wheat flour ( shobaku ??) started to be used in place of roasted whole wheat, which was prohibited for use by the government until 1950. Alternative nitrogen sources were defatted oilseed meals from soybeans, coconut (copra), peanuts, rapeseeds, corn, cottonseeds, and even acorns. Use of HVP from chemically hydrolyzed soy and wheat proteins, sold largely by makers of MSG, rapidly expanded in shoyu production. Eventually the Japanese were even compelled to try to make shoyu by hydrolysis of food garbage (Tsukahara 1948 Ref??). The nitrogen content of these dilute wartime shoyus was often as low as 0.1 to 0.2%, compared with 1.0 to 1.3% typically.

In 1944 Noda Shoyu Co. developed a New-Style Shoyu No. 1 ( Shinshiki Ichigo Shoyu ), made by chemical hydrolysis of copra (dried coconut) presscake; the patent was opened to all shoyu manufacturers free of charge. A spray-dried shoyu was developed during the war for use by the Japanese military. In 1944 Kinichiro Sakaguchi and Koichi Yamada discovered a new species of Aspergillus mold, which appeared widely in shoyu koji; they named it Aspergillus sojae .


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