Shodoshima Island is proud of its 400-year history of traditional soy sauce production. Yamaroku Chaya (Yamaroku teahouse) is an open air café that offers the flavor and fragrance of authentic Shodoshima Island soy sauce, as well as soy sauce sweets that can’t be found anywhere else!
Shodoshima Island’s renowned 150-year old Yamakuro Shoyu brewery is famous for its authentic wooden barrels, which are used for brewing soy sauce. Despite its distance from the central town, it’s become a popular spot that is visited by a constant stream of customers.
The open air café is located in front of the Yamaroku Shoyu brewery!
The charm of the teahouse lies in its soy sauce sweets that bring out the best of the flavors and fragrance of authentic Shodoshima Island soy sauce.
Below is the shop’s staple item, “Ice cream Tsurubishio kake kake” (JPY320).
Made of vanilla ice cream topped with Tsurubishio, a deep-flavored soy sauce matured in two stages, “Ice cream Tsurubishio kake kake” comes highly recommended.
If you pour a little soy sauce on the ice cream and mix it together, you’ll be surprised by the flavor!
Be-be-believe it or not, the ice cream changes into a flavor that has a hint of caramel. Apparently, this phenomenon is limited to this particular soy sauce – it doesn’t happen with any other kind.
It’s a magical flavor that occurs thanks to the authentic soy sauce made in natural wooden barrels!
Here is a cup of hot coffee! The nonchalantly placed black beans on the side are quite the treat. Seasoned by applying the same soy sauce manufacturing method, they’re boiled, large-sized, high grade, Tanba black beans.
For the average umami (meat or vegetables stewed in soy sauce, sugar and mirin), salt is added to bring out sweetness, but by using the saltiness of the soy sauce instead, they succeeded in bringing out a refined, mild sweetness. This again is a flavor that could be created thanks only to the authentic soy sauce!
Though it is of course familiar to all, Yamaroku Shoyu wants visitors to become more interested in soy sauce, so it arranges tours to allow people to see the inner workings of this natural fermenting mash brewery that outsiders rarely have the chance to witness. During the tour you get to learn all about the world of soy sauce manufacturing, including some of its secrets!
The view of the brewery interior with its large 180-liter cedar barrels lined up inside is the highlight! Tours are free of charge and need not be reserved in advance.
You can, of course, purchase Yamaroku Shoyu’s original products, such as all its soy sauce varieties and a specially made ponzu (mixture of soy sauce and citrus juice) right there on site.
The brewery’s representative soy sauces are Tsurubishio and Kikubishio.
Tsurubishio is manufactured in two-stages. After about a 2-year maturing period, more raw ingredients are added (apart from salt), and it is again returned to the barrels to be brewed for a further 2 years. Doubling the raw ingredients and maturing time creates a deep flavor, fragrance and softness like no other. This was the soy sauce we had with ice cream just a moment ago.
Kikubishio is made using large Tanba black beans that have a lot of umami components. In addition to being light-flavored, this soy sauce’s special characteristics include a refined fragrance and elegant color, which makes it especially popular among women.
At Yamaroku Chaya you can also enjoy other original sweets that allow you to have your fill of the surprisingly rich variety of soy sauce flavors, including the soy sauce pudding sold only at weekends.
If you visit Shodoshima Island, remember to have a try of the island’s unique flavors created using soy sauce brewed in wooden barrels !
Location: 1607 Yasuda, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu district, Kagawa prefecture
Open: 9.00-17:00 every day
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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