Scenery Where Rich Japan is Created:Fukuoka Shoyu |美味しい日本が生まれる風景:福岡醤油店

Japan, the island country which is slender and long, extending north to south. Small, but beautiful land with full of rich nature and blessed with pure water here and there. Delicious things have been developed from beautiful sceneries. In this series, we will introduce delectables originated from landscapes in Japan, which cannot be found in big cities.
南北に長細い島国、日本。国土は狭いけれど、豊かな自然と清い水がそこかしこにある美しい国です。そしてその美しい風景から、日本の美味しいものが育まれています。この連載では、大都会では見られない日本の原風景から生まれる美味しいものを紹介します。

The 100-year-old Soy Sauce from the Hometown of the Ninja

(英語のあとに日本語が続きます。)

Iga city in Mie prefecture is known as a hometown of the Ninja. The descendants of the Ninja still live in this city. About a half an hour’s drive from the city center, in a scenic place where a river flows between the mountains, you will find Shimagahara District. The mountains and the rivers must have always been part of people's lives. In this district, there are many families with surnames which contain one of the two letters: “Yama” (mountain), or “Kawa” (river).  Keizou is the 3rd-generation heir of Fukuoka Shoyu, which was established in 1895. His surname Kawamukai also has the letter “Kawa.”  He is striving to make good soy sauce by joining hand-in-hand together with nature.

If you visit Shimagahara, Mr. Kawamukai’s brewery is must-see spot. Not just the brewery but also his house which stands next to the brewery. Its roof and walls are covered with microorganisms which have been blown from the brewery since its establishment. They are gleaming black. It is proof that soy sauce is a living thing.

Soon after you enter the brewery, you will find that you have been literally “welcomed” by the soy sauce. Your whole body will be enveloped by the fragrance which is given forth from the brewing soy sauce.  From the young one, which has just been prepared, to the mature one, a balmy fragrance emanates from each soy sauce’s cedar bucket.  All the fragrances together make a great harmony like an orchestra.

From the preparation and squeezing of moromi, which is made from fermented beans and malted wheat, to bottling and labeling, all of these processes are still done manually at Fukuoka Shoyu.  An important task which greatly influences the taste of the soy sauce is squeezing moromi with a Kirin(giraffe)-style Compressor. The top beam of the press is made of a long log which looks like a giraffe’s neck. Moromi is squeezed slowly with the press by using the principles of the lever.  This method does not completely squeeze all of the oil from the soybeans which greatly contributes to the taste of the soy sauce.  Unfortunately, the Kirin-style Compressor is rarely seen nowadays in Japan. For this reason, Mr. Kawamukai’s Kirin-style Compressor is specified as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property.

 “Hasamezu,”which is uncommon word to one’s ears  literally means “cannot physically hold” and is the registered trademark of Mr. Kawamukai’s soy sauce brand. Back in time, people used to call soy sauce a “hasamezu food,” as it could not be held with chopsticks.  After hearing this anecdote, Tomohiro, the second-generation owner of Fukuoka Shoyu, decided to use this name as a brand for his soy sauce.  Of course, soy sauce cannot be held with chopsticks.  However, the fragrance of the Hasamezu soy sauce of Fukuoka Shoyu can certainly be held by your taste buds.  This is an important Japanese culinary treasure which, along with its traditional production methods, should be passed on to the next generation.

忍者の里の百年醤油

忍者の里として知られる三重県伊賀市。その末裔が今も暮らすというこの街の中心から車を走らせること約30分、山と山の間を一本の川がすっと流れる風光明媚な土地に島ヶ原地区があります。山と川が人々の生活の一部だったのでしょう。島ヶ原には、その2文字のどちらかがつく苗字の家がたくさんあります。1895年創業の福岡醤油店の3代目当主・啓造さんの苗字も、川向。この地の自然と手を携えて、醤油造りに励んでいます。

島ヶ原を訪れたならば、創業時から続く川向さんの蔵は必見。蔵はもちろん、隣接する自宅の屋根瓦や外壁には、蔵から風で運ばれる微生物が年月と共に付着して、黒く輝いています。醤油が生き物である証しです。

蔵に入れば、文字通り、醤油に“招かれた”ことに気がつくことでしょう。すくすくと育つ醤油が発する芳しい香りに、全身が包み込まれるからです。今年仕込んだばかりのニューフェイスから数年来のベテランまで、それぞれの香りが杉桶から漂って、まるでオーケストラがハーモニーを奏でているよう。

麹の仕込みから醪造り、搾り、そして、瓶詰めやラベル貼りまで、全行程をいまだに手作業で行う福岡醤油店。その醤油の味を大きく左右する重要な作業が、キリン式圧搾機による醪搾りです。キリンの首のような長い丸太で、テコの原理を使ってじっくりと醪を搾ります。大豆の余分な油分を搾り出さないこの方法は、醤油の出来栄えに大きく貢献します。残念ながらキリン式圧搾機は、今では全国的にほぼ見られなくなってしまいました。ゆえに川向さんのそれは、文化庁の登録有形文化財に指定されました。

「はさめず」。耳慣れないこの言葉は、川向さんの醤油の登録商標。2代目の友宏さんが、「醤油のことを昔は箸では“さめない料理”と呼んでいた」という逸話を知り、手塩にかけた自社の醤油の名前にしたそうです。確かに“はさむこと”は叶いませんが、豊かに香る「はさめず」の存在感は、私たちの味覚で“はさむこと”ができます。キリン式圧搾機と共に次世代に伝えてほしい、大切な和食の宝物といえるでしょう。

Fukuoka Shoyu/福岡醤油店

URL:
https://www.hasamezu.com/

更新: 2018年5月2日

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