By Sherilyn Siy
This unique soy sauce museum will let you see how soy sauce is made and even smell soy sauce at different stages of fermentation, as it ages for a year. You must also try their delicious soy sauce ice-cream, which is very popular with both locals and tourists. It has a slight tint of soy sauce and it tastes like salted caramel.
Soy Sauce Kingdom was setup in 2006 to educate the public about the making of soy sauce, and you can have a hands-on experience to make your own unrefined soy sauce as well (booking required). But even if you just drop by, there are still plenty of things to explore like going into the actual wooden barrel used to make soy sauce, as well as seeing and smelling the soy sauce at different stages of fermentation. There is a cafe upstairs with a beautiful view, as it overlooks the fields outside. They sell food featuring soy sauce, such as onigiri (rice ball), egg-on-rice meal set, and dessert such as soy sauce pudding and dango (chewy sweet dumpling). You must also try their soy sauce ice-cream, which is very tasty and sells for ¥300.
Downstairs is where they have a shop that sells anything related to soy sauce and their own house brand of soy sauce too. There are soy sauce bread, soy sauce chocolate rusk, soy sauce dorayaki (a kind of Japanese pancake) and even soy sauce cakes. They also have a corner for you to taste various soy sauces and they teach you which kind pairs well with different foods.
Take the Tobu Line from Ikebukuro, around 1.5 hours, to Nishioya Station. Another station nearby is Komagawa Station, but both will make you to walk for 25-30 minutes, so the best is if you drive down.
Other Nearby Attractions
This is a natural landscape formed by the meander of a river flowing down from Mt. Hiwada. It has been converted into agricultural land and is famous for its stunning red spider lilies that fill the fields from mid-September to mid-October. Entry is free.
- Alishan Organic and Vegetarian Cafe
This cafe serves delicious hearty vegetarian meals and has staff who speak English or Chinese. They are pet-friendly and many locals bring their dogs for a nice afternoon meal or tea break. They are only open from Thursday - Monday (11:30~18:00, Sat till 21:00), so closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Koma Komajinja (or Koma Shrine)
This shrine has a long history with ancient Korea and is dedicated to Jakko, an imperial family member from Gokuryo Kingdom (ancient Northern Korea), who led refugees from his kingdom to develop their new homeland in Koma. The temple has been recently renovated to prepare for its grand 1,300th anniversary next year. This shrine is walkable from Alishan Cafe (25 minutes).
- Shodenin (or Shoden-in Temple)
This is just 1km away from Koma Shrine and is walkable from Kinchakuda too. It is a temple and a cemetery for Koreans who died during WWII and you can find the grave of Jakko. Part of the 1,300 years old structure of the entrance gate has been preserved and the whole vicinity is bigger than Koma Shrine. Entry fee is ¥300.
- Mt. Hiwada
If you have a lot of time, you can take a day hike up to Mt. Hiwada for a great view of the city.
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