Looking Back on the DIY Experience Campaign

Takashi Sato

February 12, 2022

Last October, American food professionals visited fermented food producers to deepen their knowledge of Japanese fermentation culture during the “Hakko Tourism in Japan” tour campaign. As part of the tour, organizers held a tasting session where guests gave candid advice from the perspective of the American market to food product manufacturers looking to enter the United States market.

Why I held the DIY kit giveaway Campaign.

Fermentation requires not only the involvement of a variety of microorganisms but also a proper process. As a result of the brewer properly managing the temperature and the process which in turn allows the microorganisms to function properly, fermented foods with excellent flavor and long shelf life can be produced without spoilage.
All of the microbial action and brewer-managed processes are too complicated for me to explain in words. So, I came up with the idea of distributing DIY kits of tamari soy sauce to my social media followers for free, to help them understand better how the fermentation actually works by making soy sauce from scratch on their own.
As soon as I announced this giveaway campaign on my Instagram, to my surprise, almost 400 followers registered out of my 3,000 followers at that time. My original plan was to hold a lottery to select 200 from all the registrants, but I decided to distribute the kits to everyone simply because I wanted as many people as possible to experience DIY fermentation. More than 500 people ended up participating in this campaign.
This is what is inside the kit.

The most common question: How should I handle film yeast?

I received a variety of feedback and questions from people who had actually started with fermentation. The most common question was “How should I handle film yeast?”. Well, film yeast is something people might not enjoy because it looks like white mold, but it is actually not harmful to the human body. When film yeast is a condition where amino acids are eluting similar to Tyrosine which whitens moromi. Periodic maintenance is the key to prevent film yeast from occurring and to make umami of soybeans break down and flow into the liquid. For tamari soy sauce making, we scoop up the liquid from a cylindrical pipe pierced into the center and pour the liquid over the surface. This process is called kumi-kake.

The participants have finished their tamari soy sauce after 8 months.

One of the participants wrote on his Instagram about the DIY Kit experience that “It allows you to connect with the product”. This was exactly what I expected the participants to feel. I was glad and excited to see this.
During the 8-month fermentation time, many people shared on their social media how they were fermenting their tamari soy sauce.
Recently, more people have started completing the fermentation process, straining, pasteurizing and finishing their soy sauce.

DIY is the ideal and exciting way to understand the product.

It takes verbal explanation for people to understand a product. But, through this whole campaign, I myself learned that experience is more important than education. Each experience is different. Tasting can be an experience. Making it by yourself can be an experience. I think visiting a brewery and talking to a brewer can be counted as an experience, too. I believe that DIY is the ideal and exciting way to understand the product because it is not as easy as tasting and it is not as difficult as visiting a soy sauce brewery. You can try DIY fermentation with a little bit of preparation and instructions. Now I feel that providing opportunities for DIY to people is something really meaningful.

I am thinking about providing DIY kits not just for tamari soy sauce but for other types of soy sauce, miso, amazake, mirin and koji as well. Perhaps I could hold a workshop. I might want to ask the Fermentation Director at San-J to hold an education session, too.

In the near future, I am planning another giveaway campaign for first-timers who have never made tamari soy sauce by themselves before. This time the campaign may be limited to 100 people (Sorry!). I am also planning DIY kit giveaway campaigns for other types of fermented foods. Stay tuned for further announcements here at Hakko Hub!

President at San-J International | + posts

Takashi Sato, founder of Hakko Hub and President of San-J International, is an 8th generation soy sauce brewer. With a passion for excellence, he has elevated tamari soy sauce production to new heights. Dedicated to tradition and innovation, Takashi is shaping the future of fermented foods.