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04 Soy sauce Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.

04 Soy sauce  Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.

Soy sauce born in the castle town of Kumamoto
“We keep changing to preserve the traditional taste.”

Soy sauce/Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.

We interviewed Mr. Yasutaka Hashimoto, the fifth generation of Hashimoto Shoyu, which was established in Shinmachi, a castle town in Kumamoto, and has been making soy sauce and miso for traditional Japanese restaurants for many years.

Yasutaka Hashimoto
Born in 1983. Fifth generation of Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.. After graduating from university, he worked for a food wholesale company before joining Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.. Spent about six months as a research student in the Department of Brewing at Tokyo University of Agriculture, learning the basics of soy sauce and miso. Became president on May 1, 2019.

Founded in the castle town of Shinmachi

Hashimoto Shoyu Inc. is located in a food industrial park in the northern part of Kumamoto City.

Traditional taste preserved by an expert craftsman.

Please tell us about the beginning of Hashimoto Shoyu Inc..

My great-grandfather Morihei founded the company in 1919 in Shinmachi, a castle town in Kumamoto. We mainly sold seasonings to restaurants and Japanese-style restaurants in Shinmachi. We hope that you will enjoy the taste recognized by professionals at home as well.

The office and factory moved to their current location in 2014.

Many people prefer to use soy sauce and other seasonings from local manufacturers. Even after we moved, many of our customers are still in Shinmachi, where the company was located. We don’t sell our products in many supermarkets, but we sell almost all kinds of products to liquor stores in Shinmachi.

Does soy sauce taste different  depending on the regions?

It is said that soy sauce from Kyushu is sweeter. In Kyushu, Soy sauce manufacturers often use the soy sauce base as a base and blend in sweeteners and umami ingredients to create their own original flavor. It is also thought that the sweet soy sauce may have taken root in Kyushu due to the easy access to sugar from overseas.

What are the characteristics of the soy sauce made by Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.?

It has a mild aroma and a soft taste. It’s a soy sauce that’s easy to match with a variety of dishes. The star of the dish is the food, so the seasoning basically plays a supporting part. This soy sauce has a soft flavor that compliments the ingredients without being overpowering.

What is the most important part of making soy sauce?

The most important part is the “Hiire” process. Sugar, salt, and flavoring ingredients are added to the soy sauce base and heated to make it fragrant. The most common method is to heat it in a tank with steam pipes. It’s a step ahead of the burning smell, which makes for a fancy and gorgeous aroma. At our company, we heat slowly in a double-layered kettle. Since the steam envelops soy sauce, it does not burn too much and produces a soft aroma.

Experience is also important.

Depending on the temperature and humidity, the temperature, time, and speed of heating are adjusted. The craftsman in charge is over 60 years old and very experienced. His muscles are very strong as they hold the heavy raw materials. It could be said that most of the work at the factory is cleaning, and the machines are carefully cleaned. This is to make sure that the bacteria needed for making soy sauce and miso can work properly.

Determination to take over the family business

When he was a high school student, he decided to take over the family business as the fifth generation.

Mr. Yasutaka Hashimoto, the fifth generation of Hashimoto Shoyu Inc. (right)

Were you aware that you would be taking over the family business?

I still remember writing in my nursery school graduation album that I wanted to be a soy sauce maker in the future. My parents thought I didn’t have to take over the business, but I didn’t want to lose what had been going on for so long, so when I was in high school I decided to take over  their business.

Was it difficult to take over the family business?

It’s hard to get recognition from employees who have been working  for a long time if they don’t see my  efforts. As a parent,  I don’t want my son to take over the business because if he does, I’ll have to teach him more strictly than the others. I don’t think the only way to keep the Hashimoto  Shoyu name alive is for the children to take it over, so I have to make more choices. Because they only live once, I want them to make honest choices about what they want to do.

Adding New Value to Products

New products have been created based on the traditional taste of over 100 years.

heating to make soy sauce fragrant

What kind of products would you like to create in the future?

I would like to create products that offer new value, such as the “Tamago Gohan Senyo Shoyu” (soy sauce exclusively for eggs and rice). Recently, we developed a soy sauce that uses onions from Awaji Island. I would like to actively incorporate good products from various regions.

Amazake(a sweet fermented rice drink ※non-alcohol) is another of your  signature products.

It seems that my great-grandmother, Kima, the wife of Morihei(the originator), had a good reputation for the taste of her amazake. People say that our amazake has no peculiarity and is easy to drink.

Continuing to change in order to stay the same

They have also started new initiatives such as the launch of products exclusively for mail order.

”Hyakunegura no Dashi Shoyu” developed for mail-order sales

Why did you develop a product exclusively for mail order?

We thought that mail order would be the best way to properly convey our thoughts to customers, as we could use pamphlets and other materials to convey our thoughts. That’s why we launched a mail order-only product in September of this year.

Are there any challenges you would like to take on for the future?

I would like to create a place where people can make their own original seasonings.For example, a daughter gives her father soy sauce for sashimi which is made by her, he will be happy and tastes better with her heart. I think it would be delicious with the thought of the person giving it to her. I’d like to have soy sauce from breweries all over Japan, so that people can blend it and make their own flavor.

What is tradition

I believe that continuing to change in order not to change is one way to carry on tradition. We must actively embrace change and continue to protect the thoughts that must not be changed. I believe that continuing to change is a way to protect what we have inherited from the past.

What you have valued

There is a phrase that has been handed down from the first generation of the company,”Putting our soul into a drop of soy sauce”. We make the best use of the traditional techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation,and make delicious products with a humble heart every day, without being overly proud. We would like to continue to make each product carefully and bring delicious seasonings to our customers’ tables.

※The above information is current as of October 2021.
※some of the images in the movie are courtesy of Hashimoto Shoyu Inc..

Seasonings such as soy sauce and miso determine the taste of food. We don’t use them in large quantities, so I want to be particular about my choices. I’m also interested in new products such as soy sauce made with onions.

Hashimoto Shoyu Inc.
Established in 1919.Focusing on traditional soy sauce, miso, and amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink ※non-alcohol), new products are being added. The factory has a direct sales office. The factory has a direct sales office, but you can also buy from the online store.
Location:780-7, Mitsugu-machi, Kita-ku, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture (Food Pal Kumamoto Mitsugu District) 
URL : http://www.hashimoto-shoyu.com/


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