Fueki Soy Sauce Brewery (Hiki?gun, Saitama Prefecture)
Local soy sauce created with a concept of being a pleasant addition to your dining table. During its early stages, Fueki Brewery reduced the sodium in their soy sauce, and it has been a best?seller for over 30 years. Established in 1789, this brewery has a spirit of dedication, and continues to overcome challenges.
An hour away from the city center, rural scenery is spread out before you in Hiki?gun. Suddenly, you will see Fueki Soy Sauce Brewery.
Located behind the Oppegawa River, Fueki Brewery used this river to ship soy sauce and raw materials in the past.
Fueki Brewery’s flagship product is the Kinfue Soy Sauce, which is fermented in kioke (a large wooden barrel) for over two summers. Households everywhere would use Kinfue, or “golden flute,” while restaurants would use the Ginteki, or “silver flute.”
Seiji Fueki?san invited me to visit the family brewery in 2006. My first impression of him was his strong, sturdy build. It would be easy to mistake him as a competitive athlete.
Have you done any sports?
I used to play soccer a long time ago.
I knew it!
Originally, I had the opportunity to play soccer in Brazil when I was a high school student. But I was told that I would receive a huge culture shock from seeing all the impoverished people there.
Yes, Japan’s environment and soccer practice styles will be different than other places.
I had a strong interest in being overseas, so I decided to study abroad at George Washington University.
Ah, a university student’s life abroad.
Actually, my family’s soy sauce was sold at the same place where I was studying abroad.
What? That’s amazing!
It all happened by chance. My friend pointed at the soy sauce and asked me, “Is this from your company?!”
Ah, what a nice surprise.
My friend then said, “This soy sauce is your pride and your mission.” After he told me that, I clearly remember feeling relieved.
A high?pressurized machine for steaming the soybeans.
“When I first entered the brewery, I saw the staff members in the process of making koji (naturally?occurring mold). I noticed how careful they were handling the raw materials, as if they were their own children. Even though the brewery is not large, and the money is not abundant, but I felt that the staff members loved the company and soy sauce. I was happy when I saw all that,” said Fueki?san.
When the brewery is inherited from generation to generation, it is challenged to create new products. In the early days, they started to produce Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, Kinfu Sesame Dressing, and Kinfu Four Seasons Dashi (soup stock), all of which have been best?sellers.
“As it is our challenge to create new things, I’ve made soy sauce?based sweets, processed goods, and jelly. But as we are trying to move away from mechanization, the best thing we can do now is to inherit the traditions passed down to us,” said Fueki?san.
Fueki?san’s equipment is all furnished with an analysis device. This way, they can grasp the numerical value of raw materials, and make the necessary preparations for the next procedures. Additionally, the device can judge when is the appropriate time to press and refine the moromi, or main fermenting mash.
Brewery tours are possible, showing you the actual raw materials.
These documents explain how microorganisms work inside the moromi. In the back, you can see the kioke barrels neatly arranged.
Pressing and refining moromi, which will become soy sauce.
During the process of pressing and refining, the moromi will spray all over the place. The salt in soy sauce will cause the machinery to rust. However, at Fueki Brewery, you won’t find any machines in that state. It is the brewery’s goal to keep the site safe and clean, so daily maintenance and cleaning is conducted.
In regards to today’s health concerns, reduced sodium soy sauce is a necessity. But this approach to decrease the salt amount happened much earlier. Matured in the kioke barrel, 50% of the salt is cut back, and has been a best?seller for over 30 years. This soy sauce is best for simmering or cooking.
A machine to pasteurize the soy sauce. I was quite surprised by the size of this equpiment.
The risk of contamination is increased when you cut back on salt. Therefore, the temperature to pasteurize the soy sauce is set at 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit), higher than standard.
“Originally, it was a request from a pickle producer to pasteurize the soy sauce,” Fueki?san explained. The brewery reviewed the facilities and management methods to ensure bacteria contamination will be decreased.
Seiji Fueki?san, 12th Generation Owner (left) and Tatsuya Arita?san, Quality Control Director (right).
“When I was 18 years old, my father suddenly passed away. Before he left, he told me, ‘I can use my potential and ability not for myself, but for the region and for others.’ At the time, I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of his words, but now I understand what he was trying to say,” said Fueki?san.
Since 2013, Fueki Brewery started to host the Sogyo Festival, a celebration inviting local people to enjoy soy sauce and to have fun. Cherishing and upholding the name of being the only soy sauce shop in the area, Fueki Brewery has already confronted numerous of challenges for the past 230 years, and they are ready to face new ones in the future.
Released in Showa 55 (1934), this best?selling reduced sodium soy sauce is fermented and aged in kioke barrels. 50% of the salt is cut, and this soy sauce is based on the umami flavor (savory).
Price: \381 + tax
Ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt, alcohol
Rich re?fermented soy sauce that isn’t pasteurized under high?heat, this soy sauce has a rich taste of umami. This soy sauce can give a hidden flavor in your simmered or fried food.
Price: \476 + tax
Ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt
660 Kamiigusa, Kawashima?cho, Hiki?gun, Saitama Prefecture 〒350-0152