Takeshi Yamashita, Tofu Craftsman
Takeshi Yamashita is the 5th-generation owner of a small tofu shop founded 145 years ago that sells to households and department stores. Yamashita uses only natural nigari coagulant, creating a tofu with a rich soybean fragrance that's so soft chopsticks can just barely hold it. On the tongue, it breaks apart, allowing the flavor to instantly diffuse. Even fellow tofu makers express astonishment at Yamashita's skills. Making tofu the traditional way is a simple process. Grind soybeans, cook them, then drain off the soymilk, and add nigari to firm up the tofu. But as Yamashita puts it, "The simpler something is, the harder it becomes". He cultivates his own soybeans, and challenges himself to create diverse flavors. Yamashita says that when it comes to simple things, you can't fudge the details. Creating delicious tofu with just the right texture is truly difficult -- but that's what makes it interesting.