Tokoname Crock, The essential for Fermentation
日本の発酵を支える常滑クロック

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I hope this blog post finds you well and you are still making the most out of these madly frustrating days.

Ever since the evil corona virus robustly covered the entire globe and people were unmercifully forced to shrink their daily activities, I have stronger urge to ferment. I am even more craved to communicate with the microbe friends I am used to. Probably this is the reflex reaction for me to deal with this crisis in my own way. These minute creatures have been on this planet far before we human came into existence, let alone newly born corona virus. While I am indulged into miso making, sake making etc. I can forget about the mad reality and feel the circulation of lives. I can regain some sort of calmness and resume the sense of normality.

It seems like I am not only one. I heard so many people now want to make miso. Only if I hosted more koji workshops…. (I managed to host 4 miso workshops this year, but not koji…) While I can’t provide koji at the moment, which is essential ingredient to make miso, for obvious health and safety reason, I would like to at least provide some information about the beautifully functional crocks which led me to the wonderful world of fermentation.

The company who produces these crocks are called Yamagen-Tohen established on 1967. They are located in Tokoname-city, Aichi-prefecture. Aichi-prefecture has over 1000 years of history of fermentation and developed rich and distinctive fermentation culture. There are still numerous number of sake, miso, soy-sauce, mirin and vinegar breweries as well as ancient salt pans in the region (Tokoname is at the centre of the region). At the same time, Tokoname is also very famous with its ceramic industry and has been producing the crockware (which is absolutely essential for the ferments) for over 900 years. It is not a coincidence that the industry has been developed. Their local red clay had ideal properties as ceramics material making the potteries become firm after firing in the kilns in high temperature. 

It is not hard to imagine that fermentation and ceramics industries have been developed side by side over the years, requiring each other to be there. I can see the glimpse of the history even with my own limited experience. Microbes are apparently happier and grow better in the crocks as the ferments clearly taste and smell better compared with those brewed in other environment. I can’t list up the merits and scientific evidences, as I am not an expert of this subject. But the difference is certainly there.

Back in February this year (Gosh, it has only been two months, although I feel it is ages ago. What a difference the two months made on the world…), Mr Yuji Koie, the third generation president of the company, visited UK and I had a few opportunities to host miso-making workshops with him. Everytime at the beginning of the workshops, he gave a presentation about the company and their social activities. It is not an exaggeration. People were so moved. Some are even in tears when he talked about his vision and the responsibility to preserve the culture and industry for future generation. I started to believe that perhaps his management principle and philosophy of “coexistence and co-prosperity” could be a secret element to make ferments better.

Article

(Some crock & ferments pictures at the bottom ↓)

皆様、軟禁生活が続きますがお元気でお過ごしでしょうか?精神に負担をかけずに緩やかに、日頃できないことをこなしながらゆるりと過ごせればいいなぁと思っております。

コロナウィルスが蔓延し、日常生活が著しく制限を受けるようになって以来、自分の中で発酵欲求が著しく高まっているのを感じます。発酵菌は、コロナウィルスはおろか、人類よりうんと前から地球に生息している大先輩。彼らと触れ合うことで、つかの間、妙に現実味のないパニック感を忘却へと追いやり、生命の循環を感じて、穏やかさと日常性を取り戻すことができるという、私なりの自己防御本能なのではと分析しております。

これはどうも私だけではないようで、いろんな方から、「味噌が作りたいのだけれど」というご連絡をいただきます。本当にこんなことなら一般の方々向けの麹つくりのワークショップをもう少し早く始めていればお役にたてたのに…
今は、味噌に必須の麹を衛生上の理由でお届けできないけれど、今日は私を発酵の世界に導いてくれた美しくも機能的な瓷についてご紹介させてください。

私の愛用する瓷は、愛知県常滑市の創立1967年の山源陶苑さんが製造していらっしゃいます。愛知県といえば1000年以上の歴史の中で育まれた豊かな発酵醸造文化で知られ、現在も、酒蔵、味噌蔵、醤油蔵、みりん蔵、酢の醸造所がさほど広くない地域に林立するという、日本でも非常にユニークなお土地柄です(太古からの塩田もあります)。常滑はその中心に位置します。また常滑は、瀬戸、越前、信楽、丹波、備前と並び日本六古窯の1つに数えられ、その中でも最古、最大規模と言われています。焼き物に適した赤土の産地であった常滑に陶器産業が発達したのは偶然ではありません。常滑の赤土は高温で焼き締まり、吸湿性が極めて低いという醸造容器としての必須特性を満足するだけでなく、微細な陶器内の気泡を通じて発酵微生物に必要な空気を提供し、細やかなニーズに対応します。発酵産業と陶器産業がお互いを必要とし、支え合いながら、時間をかけてともに発展してきたのは想像にかたくありません。私の乏しい経験においても、瓷仕込みは、味の深みや香りが優れ、生息する微生物たちがのびのびと仲良く過ごしている様を想像して微笑ましく思えます。陶芸の専門家ではないので、利点の科学的な裏付けなどは説明できないのですが、他の容器との違いは明らかにあると思っています。

2月に山源陶苑の三代目社長の鯉江優次さんがロンドンにいらして(たった2ヶ月で世界がこれほどまでに様変わりしていようとは…)味噌仕込みのワークショップをさせていただいた際、毎回最初にプレゼンをお願いして、会社や社会貢献活動について語っていただいたのですが、毎回みなさまとても感動なさり、文化や産業を次世代に受け継ぐための企業責任やビジョンに関するお話では、私の拙い通訳を介しても涙ぐむ参加者の方もいらっしゃいました。よりよい発酵の秘訣には、実は「共存共栄」の経営理念や哲学も大きく影響しているのではと心から思える体験でした。

優次さん、本当に良い経験をさせていただきました。世の中に平穏が戻ってきたら、またぜひいらしてください。

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常滑クロック、パステルシリーズ

インタビュー記事1、

Soy sauce in Tokoname crock (Cylinder makes it easier to stir)
常滑クロック仕込み醤油
(円筒形なのでかき混ぜが楽ちん
これは醤油仕込みには必須ですね)
Seasonal wild garlic shiokoji
今が旬の行者大蒜塩麹
Red Dashi Miso
米麹と豆麹で仕込んだ赤だし味噌
Soybean Yogurt in unglazed crock
素焼きの瓷はヨーグルトに最適
Koji water for my dog
her exzema improved a lot!
ワンコ用麹水
アトピーが劇的に改善!
Rice miso, barlen miso and soybean miso in Tokoname crock
米味噌、麦味噌、豆味噌を
仕込んだ常滑クロック
Nuka rice bran bed for pickles
ぬか床も機嫌よく、
甘くてみずみずしいお漬物に
Yuzu syrup with rice koji
絶品 柚子エキスシロップ
Red koji miso
good for high BP and coresterol
最近解禁した紅麹味噌
意外にもメチャウマ
高血圧/コレステロールに薬膳効果

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Contents writer

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