Soy Sauce is said to have originated in China and then brought over to Japan by a Buddhist monk who settled down in current-day Wakayama Prefecture in 1254. Using the abundance of clear, spring water from the town of Yuasa he began producing a type of miso that he had learned about on his travels that had been used to preserve vegetables. A byproduct from this process – a liquid that collected in the barrels of the miso paste – was soy sauce. And this is how the town of Yuasa became the birthplace of Soy Sauce.
In a masterfully-produced short film, Japanese filmmaker Mile Nagaoka walks us down the streets of Yuasa and into a traditional soy sauce manufacturer that’s still producing soy sauce almost exactly the same way it was made more than 750 years ago. You can almost smell the rich, fermenting flavors of soy sauce waft out of the screen.
After originating in Yuasa, Soy Sauce is thought to have made its way to Kansai, where it became popular. In fact, there is documentation of a large 18,000 liter (about 4800 gallons) shipment of soy sauce from Wakayama to Osaka in 1588. What is thought to be Japan’s first Soy Sauce manufacturer had opened shop just 8 years earlier and is actually still in business.