The Secrets of Tofu across Japan *RERUN
Japanese people have a long history of eating tofu, a filling food that always goes well with a drink. It is made simply by grinding and cooking soybeans, before extracting and solidifying the soymilk. In the mountains, unique varieties of tofu emerged as a result of efforts to avoid wasting the precious beans. In an area of heavy winter snowfall, tofu plays an important part in an annual religious ceremony. We explore the secrets of tofu from across the islands of Japan.

Ishi-dofu (Stone Tofu)

One unique type of tofu is only made in Higashi Iya, a mountainous region of Shikoku. Due to the high altitude and lack of flat land, local people have always struggled to grow staple crops. The texture of this tofu is very hard because local people began adding large amounts of bittern to ensure they would not waste beans as a result of failing to harden the tofu. The resulting stone tofu has little moisture and keeps for a long time. The protein content is high, making stone tofu an indispensable source of nourishment for local people.

Na-dofu (Green Leaf Tofu)

In Shiiba Village in Miyazaki Prefecture too, soybeans are an important source of food. One indispensable ingredient in tofu here is leafy vegetables called Heike Kabuna, which are said to grow even in infertile soils. Adding the vegetables helps create extra volume without using so many of the precious soybeans. Today, new varieties are proving popular. Various other colored vegetables may be added to the tofu, not just for added volume, but also to make an attractive dish.

Sharing Tofu with the Gods

Kurokawa, in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture, is buffeted by wind and snow in the winter. The Ougi Festival is held at the lunar New Year, which has continued for more than 500 years. Two weeks prior to the festival, local people grill tofu. The Ougi Festival is also known as the Tofu Festival. The tofu, which has been grilled and then frozen, is dipped into a hot broth before it is eaten. Over the two days, around 300 kilograms of tofu is served to the festival-goers. The gods and the local people enjoy tofu together.