A bit of cultural background of miso in Japan
Perhaps not so well known outside Japan, but there are numerous region-originated types and classification of miso exist in Japan. Quite often, people in Japan affectionately and proudly describe what kind of miso they are brought up with. How is the colour, flavour, taste and texture are like. People also find it amusing when they discover new type of miso they didn’t know before. We respect each other’s miso.
This shows how deeply miso is rooted in Japanese culture, but we also have hundreds of miso-related idioms and proverbs in Japanese. One example is Temae-miso（手前味噌）It is literally translated as “My own miso” and is used when one praises oneself or one’s family. Japanese are rather modest and hardly praise themselves in front of others. But the home-made miso has been a rare exception from old time. People boasted each other how tasty and special their home-made miso is. So even now, in rare situations when we boast (in any context), we say 「手前味噌ですが… (It may sound like I am boasting, but)」before starting, so self-praise is tolerated.
Classification of miso
Going back to the classification, one type of it is based on the type (substrate) of koji used. When rice koji is used, miso is called rice miso (Kome-miso). When brown rice koji is used, miso is called brown rice miso (Genmai-miso). When barley koji is used, it is called barley miso (Mugi-miso). When soybean koji is used, the miso is called soybean miso (Mame-miso or Hacho miso). And so on. Each has its specific feature and I cannot choose which one is my favourite, so I make various different kind of miso (Always short of space to place crocks…)