An Unmistakable Aroma - 750 years of soy sauce tradition takes to the tables of Europe’s finest restaurants (Highlighting Japan)

The new issue of highlighting Japan is out and the the piece I did when I went to Wakayama (after I snapped that Dotonbori video and Osaka street shots) is up.

An Unmistakable Aroma

750 years of soy sauce tradition takes to the tables of Europe’s finest restaurants

Soy sauce, or shoyu, is almost indispensable to the Japanese dining experience. There are over 1,000 large and small soy sauce companies throughout the country, each with its own unique recipe and flavor. Out of this large field of competitors, how does a small brand from the quaint town of Yuasa in Wakayama Prefecture find its way into the kitchens of not one but nine Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe? And how has a company that makes up an estimated 0.01 percent of Japan’s soy sauce supply won Belgium’s prestigious Monde Selection Gold Quality Award every year since 2006?

According to Toshio Shinko, the warm-hearted and down-to-earth president of Yuasa Soy Sauce Co., Ltd., it comes down to a combination of history, tradition, dedication and passion. 

Read the rest On Highlighting Japan.

This is probably the best assignment I've had. In truth through the Highlighting Japan project and the JETRO project (not yet published) Ive had the opportunity to visit some amazing places and meet some truly inspirational people, but I would say that Toshio Shinko, the president of the Yuasa Soy Sauce company is at the top of that list.

His passion for his work aside, it's his passion for his home town, it's traditions and the younger generations growing up there that I liked best about him. His vision and goal have nothing to do with expanding his business (and being that they make the best soy sauce on the planet, there is plenty of potential for expansion). Rather he wants to educate the children in his community and instil a sense of pride in them that he hopes will inspire them to continue to live and work in Yuasa instead of migrating to the urban centres to work for the faceless corporations that built them.

He is especially critical of the way the leaders are removed from the realities of life on the ground in Japan and as a result they are unable to truly deal with the actual problems the country is facing.
as you may have guessed.. this scheduled 1 hour interview became a much longer conversation between he and I about some very deep and meaningful topics that we pretty much agree wholeheartedly on.

He was also very generous. he gave me a bottle of his fine soy sauce, 2 bags of the local, exquisitely delicious mandarin oranges, and a tub of unique miso that they make there.

It's assignments like this that make the stresses worthwhile. To get paid to meet and talk to interesting people and share their stories with the world... It brings me many feels.

Now to find more work like this... and hopefully get paid for it too!

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