The soybean finds numerous uses, it can be eaten cooked, ground into flour (kinako / roasted soy flour) or used for the manufacture of shoyu, miso or tofu.
The bean, its seed coat, pod, leaves and stem serve as feed for animals. It has been used on a trial basis to feed sheep, and the results proved that ‘it was the best feed that one could give to them.’
Soybeans originate from China. In 2853 BC, Emperor Sheng-Nung of China named five sacred plants – soybeans, rice, wheat, barley and millet. They were domesticated between 17th and 11th century BC in the eastern half of China, where they were cultivated into a food crop.
In 1868, the first 153-Japanese immigrants arrived in Honolulu on board the 3-masted sailing ship Scioto (Saioto-go.) They brought with them miso and shoyu.
The Japanese word for ‘soy sauce’ is shoyu; it derives from and is written with the same characters as the jiangyou. The various early English words for soy sauce, soy and soya, came from the Japanese word for soy sauce, shoyu, rather than from the Chinese word, jiangyou.
More started coming to Hawai‘i. In 1893, a report of Japan’s Department of Agriculture and Commerce noted Exports (Class 22) include “Soy. The total value of the latest export is 41,029 yen, and chiefly exported to Hawai‘i.”
Ingredients include equal parts dehulled wheat, soybeans and salt; a small part of the wheat is mixed with Koji (the steamed rice in sake) and allowed to ferment.
The best salt comes from Ako in the province of Harima. The salt is purified by dissolving then heating it in water, and stirring the mash (2 or 3 times a day from June to September), aging for 15, 20 or sometimes 30 months to obtain shoyu.
The mash in then pressed in cotton sacks and the resulting liquid is boiled, cooled, allowed to settle, then stored in small wooden tubs. The residue from the first pressing can be used to make a second-grade shoyu, which can be mixed in varying proportions into different grades of shoyu. (Le Japon à l’Exposition Universelle de 1878 (Japan at the Universal Exposition of 1878))
“The first Japanese who lived in Hawaii and brewed shoyu there was Jihachi Shimada, who originally came from Yamaguchi-ken, Japan.”
“He started in June 1891 and tried to make shoyu on a large scale. But bad transportation made it difficult for him to expand his market. This plus lack of capital forced him to quit.” (Soyinfo Center)
“The Japanese in Hawaii depended upon shoyu imported from Japan until Nobuyuki (Yamakami) started making shoyu in 1904.”
Then, in 1905, Yamajo Soy Co. (Yamajo Shoyu Seizo-sho) started to make shoyu in Honolulu. Established by Yamakami, it is the first successful shoyu manufacturer in Hawaii. By 1909, it was renamed Hawaiian Soy Co Ltd.
Back in Japan, 19 soy sauce brewers organized an association in Noda to ship soy sauce mainly to Edo. By the mid-nineteenth century, Noda had become the largest soy sauce producer in the Kanto region.
In 1917, the Mogi family, the Takanashi family and the Horikiri family merged their businesses to form Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd. In 1964, Noda Shoyu Co, Ltd. changed its corporate name to Kikkoman Shoyu Co, Ltd. In 1980, this trade name was altered to the company’s current name: Kikkoman
“The origin of the brewing of the ‘Kikkôman’ brand of soy, reputed to be the leader among the best varieties, dates back about 120 years (ie to about 1790.)”
“Ever since the honoured founder of the firm inaugurated the brewing of soy, the succeeding proprietors have all been men of great ability, who have succeeded in extending the business generation by generation, as well as improving the quality of the product.”
“In the year 1838, when Mr. Saheiji Mogi, fifth of the line, was the head of the firm, it was appointed by special warrant purveyor to the Household of the Tokugawa Shoguns …”
“… having been ordered to supply the Household and the Heir-Apparent every year with a large quantity of soy, a custom which was continued until the overthrow of the Shogunate in 1868.”
“The chief point worthy of special mention in regard to the ‘Kikkoman’ firm is the fact of its having been chiefly instrumental in making Japanese soy known and appreciated in foreign countries, more than half the total amount of soy exported to foreign countries at present being the ‘Kikkoman’ brand.”
“On the occasion of the International Exhibition held in Vienna, Austria, in 1873, when the Japanese Government participated for the first time in such an undertakings, the ‘Kikkoman’ soy was among the exhibits.”
“Being deemed by the judges far superior both in regard to taste and colour to the sauce usually used as a condiment, the ‘Kikkoman’ soy was awarded the gold of honour.”
In 1957, Kikkoman opened its first overseas sales base in San Francisco. To meet steadily increasing demand, Kikkoman then built its first overseas production plant in the United States in 1973 (in Walworth, Wisconsin.)
In 1946, a small shoyu (soy sauce) manufacturing plant was established in Kalihi, Hawai‘i by five local Japanese families amidst post World War II. It became known as Aloha Shoyu.
In 1965, Diamond Teriyaki Sauce started to be made in Honolulu. This is the world’s earliest known commercial teriyaki sauce. It is made from soy sauce, mirin (sweet sake) and a flavor enhancer. (Lots of information here is from Soyinfo Center.)