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Centuries old recipe shows Japanese willingness to pay premium prices for unique products

July 14, 2008

From the first of this month a special product from the western city of Amagasaki will be available for purchase, a unique soy sauce using a recipe from the Edo Period dating from 1600-1868. One of the special features which draw attention to the product is the mellow aroma that fills the room when it is poured into the small plate designed especially for soy sauce. Every year this popular Japanese product sells out very quickly, in part to due to unique features of the soy sauce and the blend of ingredients which require focused attention during the production and fermentation stages.

Sales are limited to just 28,000 bottles sold in select department stores in Osaka and food markets in Kobe.

The soy sauce is made from premium soy beans and grains, salt, alcohol, and sugar and is produced as "higashimaru soy sauce". Originally it was called "kiage soy sauce" (a type of early stage raw sauce) but in April of last year the fair trade commission's committee on soy sauce naming ruled that products containing alcohol and sugar cannot use the name "kiage soy sauce".

During the Meiji and Taisho periods (1868-1945) the historical soy sauce was exported to America, Canada, Russia, and China. Following WWII a scarcity in raw materials lead to a halt in production until 1985 when an Amagasaki business man decided to revive the special soy sauce.

This type of everyday-use product, priced many times higher than other usual product sold everyday reflects the willingness among Japanese to pay a premium price for certain goods with unique features. This trait is especially common among older individuals who will pay a very premium price for such unique and interesting products, while looking for savings on other common everyday goods.

July 1st, 2008. Kobe Shimbun

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