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History of Miso

People tend to think miso is originally from Japan, but it is actually believed to have been introduced from China, and its history dates back around the 7th century during the Asuka Period.

Asuka Period (592-710) The pre-form of miso was introduced from China. Miso is said to have originated from sho or hishio, an ancient Chinese food. It is said to have been made by pounding animal or fish meat, mixing it with koji, salt, and sake, and then marinating it in a jar. Around the 1st century B.C., shi or kuki, a fermented mixture of soybeans, millet, and salt, appears in literature. The word sho (or hisao) was first seen in the Daihoryo (701). The word misho, which does not exist in China, is written there, and it is thought that this was a new seasoning where the Japanese added their own twist, and may have been the predecessor of miso. We can imagine that the sound of misho eventually changed to miso. Heian Period (794-1185) Miso󠄀 is a monthly salary for high-ranking bureaucrats. A luxury item out of reach of the common people. It was not used for cooking as now, but was poured over or dipped into food. It was also used as a medicine. Kamakura Period (1185-1333) Miso soup appeared. Ichiju Issai was established. Under the influence of monks from China, mortars came into use and suri-miso (grinded miso) was made by grinding tsubu-miso (miso with all or part of the soybeans remaining). Because miso was easily soluble in water, it came to be used for miso soup, and Ichiju Issai meal style of the Kamakura samurai was established. Ichiju Issai means one soup one side dish. It is a style of eating that can be considered the origin of Japanese food, consisting of one soup and one side dish each, with rice as the main dish. In the old days, ordinary people often did not have a side dish, so in reality, only rice, miso soup, and pickles were served as Ichiju Issai. Muromachi Period (1336-1573) Soybean production increases and home brewing begins. Not only did miso soup become popular among the general public, but most of the miso dishes that have been handed down to the present began to be made during this period. The production of soybeans increased as a result of measures to encourage the cultivation of soybeans, and home brewing of miso began. Sengoku Period (1467-1615) Miso was essential as a source of food for soldiers. Warlords carried rice and miso as food for the war effort. Shingen Takeda encouraged the production of miso in preparation for his Shinano expedition, and Masamune Date built the first miso factory in Japan, called the Goensogura. This is the reason why many of the birthplaces of warlords were miso production centers. Edo Period (1603 and 1868) Instead of paying a doctor, pay a miso maker. Miso was an indispensable food, just as it is today. As the population of Edo reached 500,000, the miso production in Edo was not enough to meet the demand, and miso from Mikawa, Sanshu, and Sendai was brought to Edo. Recipe books were published, and miso󠄀 dishes spread rapidly. Miso has been nurtured and developed in the Japanese diet for over 1,300 years. Each region of Japan has come to produce its own unique miso󠄀 to suit its ingredients, climate, food habits, and tastes. Even today, miso is known by its regional names, such as Shinshu Miso, Kaga Miso, Sendai Miso, and Saikyo Miso, and each one has a flavor of its hometown.

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