It’s hard to spend even a few days in Japan without coming face to face with a bowl of miso soup. With its unmistakable texture and flavor, miso has in recent years become widely known throughout the world. But what is miso, exactly? How is high-quality, traditional miso made? And what does it taste like? Find out for yourself on a tour of Ishii Miso in downtown Matsumoto.
The Home of Miso
While miso is sold and enjoyed all over Japan, almost 50% of the salty brown stuff consumed by over 100 million people a day comes from right here, in the region once known as Shinshu. Yet much of Nagano’s miso is mass-produced; only a small percentage is made the old-fashioned way, which means only a handful of Nagano’s miso makers have earned the right to call their miso ‘Shinshu Miso’. This Miso Brewery in Matsumoto, founded in 1868, is one of them.
Six Generations of Hard-Earned Quality
For over 150 years the Ishii family has maintained the highest standards in miso-making. They let their miso ferment for three years in massive cedar barrels held tight with bamboo. And when we say massive, we aren’t kidding; each barrel holds four and a half tons of miso! What’s more, they transfer all that miso from one barrel to another three times by hand over the three-year fermenting process.
On the walls you’ll find signs and miniature shrines related to Mitsumine Shrine in Saitama and Matsuo Shrine in Kyoto. Generations of the brewery’s masters have – along with many other miso, sake, and soy sauce makers – traveled to these shrines to pray for continued blessings in their ongoing endeavors. These days the trip can be done in a day or two. A century and a half ago it took quite a bit longer!
See, Smell & Taste for Yourself
Kosuke Ishii, sixth-generation miso master, is more than happy to bring you up close to the process and talk about both the long history of miso and its many positive health aspects. They also operate a restaurant on-site where you can partake in a meal featuring the best miso around. And of course, you can take some miso home with you to enjoy yourself or to share with your friends.
Located close to downtown, a tour of this Miso Brewery, complete with lunch, is easy to fit into your time here in Matsumoto. Let us introduce you to Kosuke Ishii and his family’s delicious slice of Shinshu history.
Visit the sake brewery in Matsumoto
Want an organized tour? Your local guide can help!