Salt is a staple in any kitchen. In addition to bringing out the flavors in food, appropriate levels of mineral-enriched salt are also vital to maintaining a balanced diet. Japan is no stranger to salt making either, having employed a variety of salt-making methods for centuries. In the past, the town of Utazu in Kagawa Prefecture flourished as the salt-making capital of Japan, and today, it continues to pass down the traditional irihama-shiki technique honed over 300 years.
The salt-sand mixture is collected using a hoe-like tool called an eburi and placed within the nui, a water filtration pen in the center of the field. Lined with bamboo and straw, the nui will be used to create the brine concentrate.
[Anasue (“gap filling”)] The sand-salt mixture within the nui water filtration pen is smoothed flat using a hoe so that the seawater can filter evenly
[Mondarekae (“ladling”)] Workers use a large, ladle-like tool called a mondare jaku to scoop seawater from a hole beside the nui water filtration pen and pour it over the sand-salt mixture.
Workers can later use the nigari bitters as a coagulant to turn soy milk into tofu.
Zaidanhoujin Utazu Shinko Zaidan Utazu umihotaru
Photos: Misa Nakagaki
Text & Edit: Saori Hayashida
Production: Skyrocket Corporation