About Us

Yoshi Azuma

June 12, 2022
Hakko Hub started in the hope that producers of Japanese fermented foods will be able to continue to produce their excellent products for the next one hundred years.
Here is the background.
Three bottles making process to make amazakeon a table

Adversity faced by Japanese fermented food producers

There is a large number of fermented food producers in Japan. For example, there are 1,141 soy sauce producers and 1,080 miso producers. If we include mirin, sake, dried bonito, koji, amazake, etc., there are quite a few producers. However, most of them will probably go out of business in the next one hundred years. Why? There are a variety of reasons. Price competition led by the majors, decreasing the use of Japanese seasonings, the shift to westernized food, lack of interest of successors in taking over the family business, to name a few. However, the biggest problem is the declining population in Japan. Some predictions show that Japan’s population will decline by about 50% in the next one hundred years. Needless to say, the food industry is dependent on the size of the population, and in the midst of such adversity, it seems inevitable that most of the existing fermented food producers will be forced out of business.

Growing interest for fermented food outside of Japan

On the other hand, I feel that there is a growing interest in fermented foods outside of Japan. This is equally true for Japanese fermented foods. However, there is little information on Japanese fermented foods and only limited products are available in markets outside of Japan. For example, there are five main types of soy sauce in Japan, but only two types are being distributed here in the US. This is the reason why I started posting information about soy sauce on my personal Instagram in January 2021 on a trial basis. Since then, I have been getting 50 new followers everyday, and surpassed 20,000 followers in just over a year. And the number of followers is still growing.
Homemade amazake in a container on a table

Our mission: To bridge the gap

In Japan, more and more fermented food producers are being forced out of business due to the shrinking market despite their amazing products. Meanwhile outside of Japan, there is growing interest in fermented foods all over the world although bottlenecked by limited access to information and low availability of products. I realized that I could make everyone happy by bridging this gap.
If we continue to provide a variety of information on Japanese fermented foods and introduce fermented food producers from various parts of Japan to the world, more people would be interested in fermented foods and the Japanese fermented food producers would have more opportunities to export their products overseas, leading to their survival. I also think it would be very exciting for consumers outside of Japan to have more options to choose from a wider selection of delicious fermented foods.

While our initial step is to publish articles on a regular basis, we also plan to promote Japanese fermented foods and producers from various angles including selling products of producers featured in our articles, holding workshops and educational sessions and planning brewery tours in Japan through Hakko Hub.

Giving back to the entire industry

From time to time, we will introduce different soy sauce producers. Technically, they are our competitors because I am the president of San-J International, a company that produces and sells tamari soy sauce under the San-J brand. Our company also produces miso in Japan, so miso producers are also technically our competitors. One could say that it might not be in my best interest to publish articles which can be beneficial for our competitors here at Hakko Hub, which is operated at the expense of San-J. Regardless, I have decided to proactively spread the word about the wonderful products that other soy sauce producers and miso producers make, and if they want to expand their business in foreign countries, I am willing to support them with advice. There are two reasons why. First of all, we ourselves have been helped by others. We are able to do business today because of the pioneers who have been promoting Japanese food in the US for a long time. I owe them a debt of gratitude and I feel that I should now proactively pay it forward. I also believe that the market will become more active and grow when it has more players. If the global fermented food market grows, more Japanese fermented food producers will be able to enter the global market and existing businesses in the US such as Kikkoman and we, San-J, will also be happy. With this in mind, I hope to contribute to the overall Japanese fermentation industry.

I personally asked all of the writers one by one to write their articles. They are not only leading experts in their respective fields, but also people who have a deep love for fermented foods and the producers. I am sure that you will enjoy their articles.
Picture of Takashi Sato

Takashi Sato

President at San-J International, Inc.

Born and raised as an 8th generation member in the family business, San-Jirushi Corporation, a soy sauce and miso manufacturer established in 1804 in Japan. Moved to Virginia in 2001 to succeed his father as the president at San-J International, a subsidiary company of San-Jirushi.