May it be Sashimi, Nimono, Udon, Kabayaki, Sukiyaki... almost whatever the Japanese food (well, except for sweets) may be, they are all tasteless and boring without Shōyu! Formerly called Tamari, its origin dates back to the Kamakura Period (1192 - 1333). Some say that a monk teaching people how to make Kinzanji Miso (a unique product in Wakayama Prefecture and others) accidentally produced the prototype (through his mistake!). The Nippo Jisho (Japanese-Portuguese Dictionary) published by Jesuit missionaries in 1603 describes it as “a very delicious liquid made from Miso and used for cooking”. There are two types used depending on the region and cuisine: Koikuchi Shōyu (thicker type) and Usukuchi Shōyu (thinner type). The first is popular in the Kanto region and the latter, in Kansai, and for Nimono and noodle soups.
(Photo: A local Shōyu product.)