My Mighty Miso Adventure

Posted on Last updated on

Miso (味噌) is fermented soybean paste that at first glance, may look a bit like peanut butter. This salty substance is an important ingredient in many Japanese dishes, including miso soup of course. Miso can easily be mixed into sauces, dressings, batter, and a wide variety of other foods. It can be eaten cooked or raw, right out of the container. And you can find simple recipes for cooking with miso online. You can’t find a fridge in Japan that doesn’t stock some miso.

Nagoya: How Sweet (the Miso) is!

But how could miso be remotely connected to the word adventure? If you’re looking to learn more about miso while enjoying an interesting part of Japan, I invite you to head on over to Nagoya, the home of sweet red miso. There are lots of things to see and try in Japan’s 4th-largest city, notably the iconic castle area, some famous historical temples, and of course the cuisine.

Try to visit during the last weekend of August for the Nippon Domannaka Festival. This event brings large dance groups from all over Japan (many representing universities) who perform across the city. It blends traditional dance costumes and music with contemporary and pop styles that makes for a one-of-a-kind experience, and an amazing spectacle. Okay, it isn’t strictly connected to miso, but it sets the perfect atmosphere for your adventure.

The Mystery of Making Miso

Now, on to find out about miso. The sweet red miso of Aichi prefecture, or Hatcho-miso, is famous across Japan for its unique flavor. And here’s where you can see it being made! A relatively short visit to the outskirts of Nagoya takes you to the Hatcho Miso no Sato (find it on Google Maps at Okandori-52 Hatchocho, Okazaki, Aichi 444-0923). The Meitetsu train line will get you there in 45 minutes, and the factory is a brief walk from Okazaki-koen Station. Try to get there before mid-afternoon because the factory viewing closes at 4:15 pm.

The factory has been around since 1337 and the buildings and neighborhood still try to keep an old Japan feeling. Walking through the factory with a tour guide, you can see the miso in the various stages of processing. The tours are conducted in Japanese but there are enough English signs around so you can catch on to what is said.

The website has an English page as well. The factory also has a little store (of course) but it’s fun to see a variety of ways miso is used, including miso cola! I bought some miso for myself to try at home (I loved it) and some as a travel gift. And it was one of the rare gifts that even got delighted reactions from my Japanese friends!

Hungry Yet?

Again, leaving miso behind for a bit, stop off on the way back to central Nagoya at Jingu-mae station and walk directly up to Atsuta Jingu. This is one of the major shrines of Japan, believed to have been founded before 130 AD. It’s said to house the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, one of the three ancient symbols and treasures of Japan. Whether that’s true or just a legend, it is still a beautiful and ancient place well worth your time.

Back in Nagoya, it’s time to enjoy Aichi red miso to the fullest. Miso Katsu is the Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet, tonkatsu, smothered in Aichi miso. It’s a dish you will truly enjoy. Try the Miso Katsu Yabuton restaurant for the most famous dish in town. You can also enjoy it with a variety of noodles almost anywhere.

Any type of miso is a healthy and delicious food that is surprisingly easy to use. You will probably get miso in some form at most Japanese restaurants you try. But if you get the chance, make it an adventure and enjoy the beloved red miso of Aichi prefecture with a fun visit to Nagoya!

For information about trying Miso Katsu:

Nagoya Miso Katsu
https://nagoyafoodie.com/miso-katsu-nagoya/

Photos provided by Donald Love. Additional photos provided by pixabay.com

RELATED

PEOPLE

Donald Love

From Canada
Has more than 10 years of experience in Japan!