Japanese Fermented Foods: What Are They And Why Are They So Healthy

  • 2 min read
Japanese Fermented Foods: What Are They And Why Are They So Healthy


Almost every global culture has a tradition of fermenting foods, so it's no surprise to find that this “culture” also has deep roots in Japan.  

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods -- wonderful, sumptuous, and at times, stinky -- are not only delicious, but also extremely healthy. Simply put, fermented foods are foods which have been prepared and stored with a microorganism such as yeast, bacteria, or mold. This preparation process helps convert the original ingredient into a different kind of food, and impart it with a deeper flavor and increased health benefits.

Fermented foods made using yeast are some of the most familiar worldwide. Yeast breaks down the sugars present in food, which helps to add flavor and cause foods such as bread to rise. Yeast is also used in the process of making alcoholic beverages like beer. 

Bacteria, in particular lactic acid bacteria, is used for fermenting products like yogurt, kimchi, and natto. 

Finally, perhaps one of the most important for Japan’s food culture, is fermentation through mold. Mold is famous for its use in cheese production around the world, but in Japan, koji mold is primarily used to make staples like soy sauce, miso, and sake.

Japanese Fermented Foods: What Are They And Why Are They So Healthy

Health benefits

On top of being delicious, fermented foods have several positive health benefits. While there is some debate about the exact benefits of a diet rich in fermented foods, there are a few promising points of consensus. First, fermented foods tend to be easier to digest than typical foods as the process of fermentation jumpstarts the breaking down of compounds such as starch, lactose, and complex carbohydrates. Further, it also helps to create a healthy biome in your digestive tract. People consume all kinds of bacteria on a daily basis, and while most it isn’t harmful, some can be. A diet rich in fermented foods can help ward off harmful bacteria before they take hold in your system. Finally, while not entirely confirmed, there is anecdotal evidence that certain fermented foods can help with seasonal allergies, as well as lower unhealthy cholesterol levels. 

Japanese Fermented Foods: What Are They And Why Are They So Healthy

Japanese fermented foods

Many Japanese staple foods are fermented foods. Common examples include miso (learn more about the different types and which to use), soy sauce, and sake, all of which are fermented using koji, a healthy mold also known as aspergillus oryzae.

Browse our website to find more unique products such as goishicha (a rare type of fermented tea), hishio moromi (a regional, semi-solid fermented paste that is the unrefined predecessor of ingredients like miso and soy sauce) or natto koji paste (an artisanal paste made from fermented soybeans).


About the author: 

Michael Bugajski

Michael Bugajski

Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen.  Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!

1 Response



May 19, 2022

Thank you for sharing this healthy tips for now on i will make miso soup everyday.🥰

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