The island of Osakikamijima is situated in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea, in Hiroshima Prefecture. In this article I’m going to introduce two famous local products that have been loved by local people since the days of old.
The Osakikamijima Fumita Shiitake Mushroom
The first product is the plump Fumita shiitake mushroom, which accounts for more than half of the entire shiitake production of Hiroshima Prefecture. They are sold everywhere, but for this article I visited their production facilities to buy some directly from the source. The freshly picked mushrooms are packed straight into bags.
Apparently, the best way to cook the shiitake is to remove the hard tip, make a shallow cut in the stem, and then simply grill them on an open grill. A pleasant aroma is released as the mushrooms cook slowly.
The Dream Collaboration
In addition to the Fumita shiitake, Osakikamijima has one more famous product that goes very well with it – Okamoto soy sauce. The combination of the two strikes an almost perfect balance between the incredibly rich shiitake flavor and the freshness of the soy sauce. The two flavors really enhance each other.
80-Years of Soy Sauce History
Not only is Okamoto Soy Sauce a perfect match for the delicious shiitake mushrooms, visitors can also visit their production facilities and go on a tour.
With the ocean out front and the mountains behind, the facilities are located in Shiromizu, Higashino. Mr. Yasushi Okamoto, the 4th owner of the company since its founding, explains that since the wind direction changes between the ocean and the mountains several times a day, the unrefined soy sauce is constantly exposed to fresh air, which has a great effect on the fermentation process.
As soon as you step into the brewery, you can’t help but notice the gentle soy sauce scent that fills the room. There are 30 cedar barrels, just one of which contains enough soy sauce to fill about 2,000 bottles.
Mr. Okamoto further explains that all the steps involved in the production are carried out in-house, from processing ingredients and making the malt, to filling the bottles. Through high-quality ingredients and the power of the fermentation process, they are able to produce delicious soy sauce without adding any unnecessary ingredients. I was able to have a peek at a batch of unrefined soy sauce that had soy beans, wheat and malt seeds mixed in. To cultivate the koji mold, the mix is set to ferment for three days in the room.
From Matured Mash To Okamoto Soy Sauce
All the ingredients in the soy sauce of Okamoto are domestic products, most being produced locally in Hiroshima Prefecture. The salt is of course sea salt from the Seto Inland Sea.
Koji mold and salt water is added to the unrefined soy sauce and the mix is fermented slowly over a long period of time. The marvelous liquid is a muddy mix of life. Each barrel matures for a varying amount of time, so you get to see the many stages of the maturing process. The soy sauce is matured for 1 to 3 years and is completed after being compressed and cooked.
Matured for 1-year, the bottles on the left are called Awaguchi Shoyu and have a strong yeast aroma. The middle bottles are called Koikuchi Shoyu and are the ones that most resemble regular soy sauce. Matured twice over a 3-year period, the bottles on the right are called Kake Shoyu. The flavor and aroma of the different soy sauces depend on the maturing period.
By the way, I had Koikuchi soy sauce with the Fumita shiitake mushrooms. Other kinds are also produced, such as the Shimashima, which is a type of unheated soy sauce called kiage.
If you get the opportunity, you really should try the excellent Fumita shiitake mushroom and Okamoto soy sauce combination!
●Okamoto Soy Brewery
Address: 2577 Higashino, Osakikamijima, Toyota District, Hiroshima Prefecture
Business Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
※Reservation required for tours.
●Fumita Fruit Center Inc. (Fumitake Shiitake)
Address: 5876-3 Nakano, Osakikamijima, Toyota District, Hiroshima Prefecture
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Nana Takei
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