ホーム 〉木桶仕込みの蔵 〉 四国 〉 ヤマロク醤油│Yamaroku




Focused on making kioke for the next 100 years

“My dream is to pass down the legacy of kioke for my grandchildren’s generation,” says Yasuo Yamamoto, owner of Yamaroku Soy Sauce Brewery. Preparing for the next 100 years’ batch of soy sauce, Yamamoto and a local carpenter worked together to construct kioke (a large wooden barrel made with Japanese cedar), a challenge that has not been done before in contemporary times. Only after one visit, you will soon become a big fan of Yamaroku and its beliefs.




A must-see brewery!

Without needing to make a reservation, you can tour the brewery with detailed explanations of traditionally-brewed soy sauce. The brewery itself is quite simple and old-fashioned, however it gives any visitor a deep impression. In the midst of a dim and tranquil stillness of the whole atmosphere, it almost seems you’ve entered another time period.

After the tour, you have the opportunity to try their soy sauce. With four unique tastes, many visitors boast about the soy sauce they bought in a tucked away brewery on Shodoshima. And by word of mouth, many people travel to Shodoshima just to taste Yamaroku Soy Sauce. Although many people are satisfied with his products, Yamamoto is always looking for ways to improve the brewery, and always gladly welcomes any challenges.

ヤマロク醤油は大通りに面していません。細い道を探検気分で進んでようやく到着。いつ行っても見学可能です。「ここまで見せてくれるの?!」と驚く方も多いくらいに隠すものが一切ない蔵元です。/Up a narrow path, Yamaroku Soy Sauce cannot be seen from the main road. Everything is laid out in the open, with nothing to hide. Many visitors often say with astonishment, “You are going to show us all of this?”
全てが木桶仕込み。百年以上使われている桶もあります。むしろ、ほとんどがそうです。「人が入ってくると発酵が活発になることもあるんですよ!人の気配が分かるんでしょうね!」と山本さん。ただ、活発になる方とならない方がいるらしく・・・/The main brewery is made entirely of wood, and the kioke pictured above have been used for well over 100 years. “Sometimes people start to come in, the fermentation becomes active! It’s almost as if the fermenting mash can sense people nearby. However at other times the fermentation is not as vigorous when other people are around…” jokes Yamamoto.
蔵に足を踏み入れて驚くのが桶に住み着く「菌」たちの姿。乳酸菌や酵母菌といった醤油造りに欠かせない菌たちが桶の外にまでびっしり。これ程までに菌に包まれている桶はそうそう目にすることはできません。/When stepping into the main warehouse, one may feel surprised to see the all the bacteria residing in nearly every surface of the brewery. These bacteria (lactic-acid bacteria and yeast fungus) are all tightly packed on the outside of the kioke, and they are critical for traditional fermentation methods. Usually, you don’t ever see a kioke with this many bacteria on it.
小豆島の地理的条件もあると思いますが、湿度が低く風が通り抜ける蔵の内部。イヤな香りがなく、し~んと静まり返った蔵の中には特別な時間が流れているよう。/With Shodoshima’s geographical location, the warehouse receives low humidity and a nice breeze. Because of these factors, there is always a fresh, crisp feeling, with no unpleasant smell inside. In this serene brewery, it seems as if the essence of timelessness is flowing throughout.





Pointless to use plastic tanks and secondhand kioke

“I am not a brewer or craftsman. The bacteria in the brewery are the real craftsmen,” says Yamamoto, “People do not make soy sauce—they are made by the bacteria. People just only give the bacteria a little help!” This ideology of brewing was passed down from the previous generation, and it continues to be passed down through the generations.

The reason for sticking to kioke after all this time is because the bacteria cannot settle in anything else except for wood. Yamamoto experimented with a pre−owned barrel, but met with defeat: “I’ve tried to use a secondhand barrel, but the bacteria from the previous brewery was so deeply embedded that the taste was not the same,” said Yamamoto.

Therefore, new kioke are essential for preserving the kioke legacy.

2009年10月24日 新桶7本が到着



October 24, 2009: Nine new barrels arrive

Nowadays, soy sauce breweries would replace their old wooden kioke for plastic tanks because they were cheaper and easier to maintain. But when Yamamoto ordered new kioke, it was extremely unusual, and many people in the soy sauce industry said, “He’s doing what?!” Ueshiba, a skilled kioke craftsman who made the barrels, jokingly replied back, “It is very unusual. He’s even asking for nine barrels all at once.”

Although the new barrels suffice today’s soy sauce production, Yamamoto still felt a sense of uneasiness. The kioke in the brewery have been used for over a hundred years, and Yamamoto is unsure how much time is left for these barrels. He expresses his thoughts, “I am currently using the kioke that my ancestors passed down to me. After calculating backwards, I need to put new kioke now for my grandchildren’s generation.”

2012年2月 桶修行のために大阪へ



February 2012: Kioke apprenticeship in Osaka

However, after thinking about the problem for future generations, new challenges presented itself. Although the kioke can be used for 100 years, repairs may be necessary. How does one repair the bamboo hoop bindings? Or what should one do if leaks occurred? What’s more, what will a person do when the kioke becomes unusable after 100 years?

In all of Japan, Fujii Kioke Factory is the only business that constructs these barrels. There is no guarantee that you can rely on future generations, so the only thing you would have to do is master the skills yourself. With that in mind, Yamamoto set out for Sakai, Osaka to undertake an apprenticeship.

箍(たが)を編むための竹の削りから、側板のつくり方と組み立て方。道具も特殊な上に曲線をつくる作業は本当に難しい・・・/From sharpening and whittling bamboo strips for weaving the hoop bindings, to making and assembling side plates, Yamamoto learned how to construct kioke. However, it was not an easy task to undertake.
桶に箍を入れ込む作業は繊細な力作業。緩すぎると漏れの原因となり締めすぎると入っていかない・・・/Weaving the bamboo strips together is intricate work. If it’s too loose, then it will cause leakage. If it’s too tight, then you wouldn’t be able to weave them together.

2013年9月 いよいよ自分たちだけで桶づくり



September 2013: “Finally, we made our own barrel”

The procedure to build a barrel is laborious. Special tools needed to make the barrels, how to cut the cedar trees into planks, harvesting and collecting bamboo for the hoop bindings…the list almost seems endless.

Problems and complications arose right after the kioke construction began. Yamamoto often thought, “Is this even possible?” But after four days of intense labor, Yamamoto and his team finally completed their very own kioke on September 2013. Later, the master from Fujii Kioke Factory came to inspect the kioke. When the master said, “Great work!” Yamamoto let out a sigh of relief.

一度体験しているものの、そう簡単に事は運ばない。最初からトラブル続き・・・/Although they had the experience of making one kioke, the process was still not easy. Problems still occurred, even right from the start.
ようやく桶の形らしくなって鉄のワイヤーで仮どめ。/The kioke finally taking shape was temporarily fastened with an iron wire.
師匠は一人で編みますが、今回は四人がかり・・・竹が折れないように慎重に。/The Fujii Kioke master can weave the bamboo hoop binding by himself. But at Yamaroku, four people are needed so that the bamboo will not break.
ハンマーでひたすら叩く。男四人が全力で打ち下ろして数センチ下がる程度。/Hammers are used to push the bamboo hoop bindings into place. With four men using full power, they can only bring down a few centimeters each time.
底板を入れるのも一苦労。フォークリフトと人力でなんとか所定の位置に。/It is difficult to add the bottom plate, so a forklift is used to set it down.
六代目予定の康蔵くん。右手に炭をたっぷりつけて・・・/With his right hand covered in charcoal, Kozo-kun is set to be the sixth generation owner of Yamaroku Soy Sauce Brewery.




My eldest son is the brewery owner; and I hope my second son is the kioke store owner

At the bottom of the new kioke, Yamamoto wrote, “Kioke No. 1, Yamaroku Soy Sauce 6th Generation” (planned). Next to these words, Kozo-kun wrote his own name with his handprint underneath.

“I want to pass down kioke and traditional brewing methods for my grandchildren’s generation,” said Yamamoto. With that in mind, Yamaroku Soy Sauce Brewery may face obstacles in the future. But, the children in the Yamamoto family find the traditional soy sauce industry to be cool and exciting, so they are ready to take on any challenges.



It shouldn’t just be to preserve traditions

Instead of just following old traditions, Yamamoto has the impression of inheriting this traditional industry. However, inheriting this tradition is difficult. It’s not because this happened long ago, but rather, there are very few existing breweries that can explain this technique. However, always facing a new challenge head-on, nothing will stand in the way of Yamamoto making as much delicious soy sauce as possible in the kioke.

醤油づくりも桶づくりも先頭に五代目の山本康夫さんが先頭にたちます。両方を手がけられる職人は日本で唯一の存在です。/Yasuo Yamamoto, fifth generation owner, leads the beginning of a new era of making soy sauce and kioke. He is the only craftsmen in Japan who can handle both tasks.
山本さんは元佃煮メーカーの営業マン。添加物を加えて日持ちをよくしたもの、化学調味料を使って価格を下げた商品が出回っている現実を目の当たりにして小豆島に戻ってきたそうです。「胸を張れる醤油をつくらないといけない!」これが出発点。/Yamamoto was formerly a salesman at Moto Tsukudani Manufacturer. When he witnessed the increase of additives, preservatives, and chemical seasonings in order to reduce production costs, he returned to Shodoshima to take up the brewery. “I need to make soy sauce that I can be proud of!” said Yamamoto, and thus began his journey.





He leaves the island for only a few days a year

When exchanging emails with Yamamoto, I noticed that they were always sent out early in the morning or in the middle of the night. During the day, he spends all of his time and energy interacting with visitors and making soy sauce. Because he is so passionate with what he is doing, I personally don’t think this lifestyle will change anytime soon.

Simply put, Yamamoto says that he tried changing his methods a little bit. As he analyzes his soy sauce’s ingredients and takes measurements, he also takes into consideration its appearance, smell, and texture. “Rationally, it seems to be the best way,” he says, as he continues to make improvements little by little.

In the case of traditionally−brewed soy sauce, it takes several years before you can press and refine it. Clearly, it will take time to get the results from trial and error processes. Therefore, many brewers tend to repeat the same work every year. However, in the case of Yamamoto, he always finds creative ways to change his recipe. I always feel a sense of evolution in him and his products every time we meet.

発行中の諸味の香りを確かめながら、「りんごの香りがしますでしょ?!こうやって手で揉んでやるとバナナの香りになりますよ!」/While checking the fragrance of the moromi (main fermenting mash), Yamamoto said, "I smell an apple fragrance, do you? If you rub your hands like this, then it will smell like bananas!"
桶によって発酵の仕方も異なります。「この桶とあの桶は優秀なんです。こっちの桶はそろそろ発酵し始めますよ。」全ての桶の特徴を説明できる山本さん。/The method of fermentation varies depending on the barrel and location of the barrel. "This barrel here and that barrel over there are excellent, and this barrel will begin to ferment soon," said Yamamoto, as he was explaining the different characteristics of all the barrels.
実は、ヤマロク醤油さんは職人醤油のお客さんでもあります。定期的に各蔵元の醤油の注文が入ります。自分の蔵の味と他の蔵との比較。スタッフ全員で醤油を囲んで大激論。/In fact, Yamaroku Soy Sauce is also a customer of other craftsmen's soy sauce. Periodically, they would order soy sauce from other breweries, and taste-test them. The employees are all in an intense discussion on the various flavors.
若いスタッフも女性フタッフも大活躍のヤマロク醤油。チームワークの良さも魅力の一つ。/Young employees and female employees play an active role at Yamaroku. The spirit of teamwork is one of the defining characteristics that make Yamaroku Soy Sauce Brewery unique.



価格 : 428円+税
原材料 : 大豆、小麦、食塩


〒761-4411 香川県小豆島郡小豆島町安田甲1607
TEL:0879-82-0666  FAX:0879-82-1293