Around the World in 80 Days: Day 26, The Soy Factory

I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time!!  A few of us made a short bike ride to the other side of the river to the soy factory for a soy sauce and tofu making workshop.  This place does lots of things with soybeans – soy sauce, miso, soy milk, tofu, soy cheese, baked soy goods, and even soy donuts and ice cream!  I am really enjoying being a part of this culture.  Let’s go!

Walking down the path to the factory.

Pretty path to the door.

Smooth green stone table in front of the showroom.  This is the green stone Onishi is famous for.

The BEAUTIFUL noren on the outside of the showroom.  These are the curtains that divide rooms or hang in front of a door.

Annnnnnnnnd guess what?  No photos allowed.  Here’s a video about how soy sauce is made.  It says it’s published in 2011… but this video sounds like it’s from the 80’s.  You can jump forward in it if you’re bored.  When you get to the part of “Big Ken” substitute 6 smaller cloths in a container about the size of a pan for baking a loaf of bread.  If you want to refer to my guns collectively as “Big Ken” I won’t stop you.  (Japanese readers: “Guns” is slang for biceps.)  Each of our smaller cloths held about a cup of the fermented bean paste.  I listened to the guy in the video call the bean paste muraki, morake, meraki, muck-raking… sigh.  He never actually got it right and because his pronunciation is so bad… I can’t freaking find what it’s really called.  At any rate, my arms and upper body weight crank on a wooden press (along with two more art residents taking turns) and we got three 4oz bottles out of our efforts.  This video is a little more updated and slick but they refer to the paste as “carpet.”  Hay Cletus!  I kain’t pernance this here werd!  Well why’nt ya jes callit “carpet?”  Yes, boys and girls… So this guy over here pours a bunch of soybeans on a carpet and soaks it in seawater.  Then he squeezes the carpet after a year and voila – soy sauce.

My soy sauce and my certificate saying that I am a certified professional soy sauce and tofu maker.  We also each got our Macklemore in a small plastic bag even though it’s usually given to cows.  Quiet you.  I’m losing weight.  This is the best damn soy sauce I’ve ever had – probably because I made it and I’m a professional.

Making tofu was surprisingly easy.  We were each given a cup of really hot soy milk and a packet of a highly refined sea salt fluid.  We had to stir stir stir really fast while someone else quickly dumped the salty liquid into our milk and then we stirred for three more seconds.  After we stopped stirring the spoon could be suspended by the setting tofu.  It’s a lot like my tea after I add my sugar and cream to it.

My silken tofu.  I know it looks like milk but that’s because it was once soy milk.  I don’t normally like silken tofu, preferring the extra firm, but this tasted like butter.  So good!

After all of our back-breaking work it was time to eat.  They have a restaurant on site with a very simple menu.

My lunch was a very simple curry.  Tasty.  I ordered the most expensive black tea I may have ever drank.  No idea why it was $5.00 but I found that aside from my cats, husband, and car (not necessarily in that order) it’s something I miss dearly.  They brought it to me at the end of the meal for some reason and it was too hot to drink so we paid for our meals and I told everyone to go on and not to wait for me.  I eventually drank my tea quietly and alone… just the way I like it.

Made my way to the bathroom before I rode my bike back across the river to the residency.  (OH NO.  Not another bathroom story!)  Relax… I just wanted to show you the pretty rock fountain outside of the bathroom door.

The view outside of the bathroom.






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