Noda is "Soy Sauce City". In the Edo Period, family soy sauce breweries in what is now Noda City combined forces to create the world famous brand of soy sauce, Kikkoman. The easily recognized logo is a rebus monogram composed of the character for tortoise, an animal considered auspicious, and the word man, meaning ten thousand.
The factory provides guided tours periodically throughout the day. Reserve a time before you go. You can also take a self-guided tour of the factory and displays.
The tour stimulates all the senses, beginning with a video presentation revealing the history of soy sauce manufacturing in Japan, and the process of brewing the sauce from wheat, beans and koji, the fungus that creates the fermentation.
The walk through the factory museum takes about an hour, and displays in Japanese and English guide visitors as they observe the workings of the factory's machinery, touch the raw ingredients, read about the process on big displays, and smell the aromas of the soy sauce fermentation process.
Outside the main factory is the goyogura where the factory produces a special variety of soy sauce reserved for the emperor. The goyogura is accessed by a vermilion bridge. The bridge and gardens are great vantage points for taking photos in any season.
When you finish the tour, you can taste a wide variety of soy sauces, and try your hand at roasting sembei rice crackers flavored with soy sauce at the Mame Cafe. A favorite treat at the cafe is soy sauce soft cream, which has a sweet and malty flavor. The gift shop next to the cafe carries character goods, limited edition soy sauce varieties, and sweets.
The museum tour appears to be accessible, and is suitable for families, too. When you visit, check in at the factory entrance and the staff will give you a leaflet with a stamp rally. Complete the rally to receive a gift.
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The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program took me to Ehime Prefecture in 1999, and Japan’s culture and beautiful places kept me here. You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big tourist draws. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too. I've lived in cities in the Tokatsu area of Chiba Prefecture (Noda, Nagareyama, Matsudo, Kashiwa, Abiko and others) for the last 15 years and have discovered the many cultural, culinary, and historical treasures here which I share with our readers.