Miso is a truly delicious food that blends well with all types of cooking, and because of its many health benefits, miso's popularity is rapidly spreading around the world. One of Mitoku's most popular misos is made by Takamichi Onozaki and his family. Mr. Akiyoshi Kazama, founder and president of Mitoku, discovered the Onozaki shop in 1979. The Onozaki home and miso shop is in an old Japanese farming village two hours north of Tokyo.Their house, which is over 300 hundred years old, is the center of village activities, a meeting place of predominately older, very traditional people.
It took a small train and a long car ride through the countryside of Japan before we arrived at the magnificent, centuries-old thatched roof home of the Onozaki Family. Of all of the Japanese family producers I've seen, this small miso maker continues to impress upon me how it is possible to still keep the traditional methods of Japanese hand-crafted food alive, if one still has the spirit. The Onozaki's are the epitome of a family still very much living the "old-style" traditional life of Japan. Retreating from battle with a rival Samurai group over 500 years ago, the Onozaki clan headed north in search of a protected mountain area with an abundance of fresh spring water and fertile soil. Finding refuge in the outskirts of the tiny village of Yaita, they laid down their swords and turned to growing and making various staple foods. Over time, the Onozakis found the climate and pure mountain water ideal for making delicious, hearty misos. Today, the Onozaki family is deeply committed to traditional methods of making miso, as well as to organic agriculture.