TOFU FILLED WITH ITS PURE ESSENCE THAT HAS BEEN PASSED ON FOR 150 YEARS

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Apr 14, 2024 by Team Tabeerü
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MASUDAYA TOFU
KYOKO MASUDA
 

Bringing out the flavors of old-fashioned tofu using soybeans
 

A six minute walk along the tracks of Kamakura station’s west exit, is Masudaya Tofu Shop, known to everyone as the “small town tofu shop”. Established in 1865, this shop is now run by the fourth generation, Kyoko Masuda who has continued to use the same recipe from over 150 years ago.

Making tofu using the same recipe for the past 150 years

 

When the third generation passed away fourteen years ago, Masuda, who had been working as an office worker, took over the family business. She explains that she was touched by the bond the shop had created with regular customers and the requests to continue the shop was the main reason she decided to take over. She also remembered how she was raised watching tofu being made from a young age and felt that it would be a shame to close the shop. Although her predecessors were opened five days a week, she knew she could only open for two days a week at best. The amount she could make would be limited but she could maintain the quality that satisfied her and in the blink of an eye, fourteen years have gone by.

“Although I have been making tofu for such a long time, it is still a challenge” explains Masuda. It may look the same, but the finish will depend on the amount of water, pressing time, freshness of the beans and the climate, so fine adjustments based on experience are always required. The soybeans used are a blend of domestic Miyagi Shirome and American soybeans (non-genetically modified). The price a block of firm tofu is 220yen, a block of silk tofu is 200yen. She believes it is important to maintain “reasonable prices for large sizes” to meet customers’ expectations.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, Masuda gets to work as early as 3:00am and works for four to five hours straight, making all the products on her own. Regular customers start arriving as early as 6:00am when the shop opens. Only 20 blocks of firm tofu, 16 blocks of silk tofu and 20 pieces of thick fried tofu are available daily therefore it is often sold out by noon. It is recommended to go early to get your hands on the tofu. The firm tofu known for the “rich flavors of the soybeans” is the most popular item and sells out quickly but there are also other tofu products like soy milk, “okara” (bean curd) and soy milk pudding that also have a lot of fans. Tofu production is truly a zero-waste product and nothing is thrown away, even the water that is used to boil the beans is used as kitchen detergent. It is common to see people resting on the benches outside the shop enjoying some soy milk, something that seems to especially popular among Taiwanese tourists.

Like Okara (bean curd) and soy milk, TOFU is truly a zero-waste product

 

Freshly made Thick Fried Tofu smells of Canola oil

 

Throughout the history of the shop, there have been several people of all races who have come wanting to learn about tofu making. Among them, William Shurtleff, an American who trained under the 2nd generation published “The Book of Tofu” in 1975. In this book he wrote, “his daily life was a practice, a spiritual path or, as the Japanese say, a Way. It was obvious that his work was more than a means of economic livelihood. For him, the joy of fine craftsmanship was its own fulfillment and reward.” These words from a foreigner who experienced the tofu making process is something that Japanese people can learn a great deal from. There is something profound hidden in tofu that is made with care and attention to detail.

The price are still the same from 20 years ago

Their tofu can be served simply with soy sauce, or it can be used to make tofu dishes like spicy Mabo-Tofu which produces an exceptional taste that cannot be found in mass-produced tofu. This truly is the pure essence that Masudaya Tofu Shop continues to protect.


SHOP DATA

MASUDAYA TOFU

TELEPHONE 0467-32-1324
ADDRESS 1-14-4 Ogigayatus Kamakura, Kanagawa
SOURCE:FIND VEGGIE

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