The production of black vinegar began over two hundred years ago in Fukuyama, a village located on the eastern shore of Kinko Bay in Kagoshima Prefecture. Over time, as traditional brewing methods were improved and refined, “kurozu”, or black vinegar, was created.
Kurozu gets its name from the color of the liquid itself, which is a deep shade of amber. When visiting or viewing pictures from Kagoshima, you may see fields full of black ceramic pots. These pots are known as “tsubo” and inside them, kurozu is being aged.
Kurozu is made by combining only three ingredients - water, steamed rice, and koji, a natural fungus necessary for fermentation. These ingredients are placed in the tsubo and left to sit outside in the sun for 1 to 7 years to ferment and mature. Each pot of black vinegar is looked after by a “kurozu toji” or black vinegar master, who oversees the fermentation process.
Kurozu vinegar has a dark color, thick texture, and rich, complex flavor that is both sweet and sour. It is commonly used as a condiment for dishes such as sushi, salad, and stir-fry, as well as in marinades and dressings. It is known for its health benefits such as improving digestion, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation. Used in traditional Japanese medicine, kurozu vinegar is high in antioxidants, amino acids, and other beneficial compounds.
For anyone looking to try kurozu, you can’t beat Kakuida’s Black Vinegar Paste. Founded in the 1800s and backed by centuries of knowledge, the Kakuida Kurozu Brewery is one of the most distinguished in Kagoshima Prefecture. The average brewing period for black vinegar lasts six months to one year. However, Kakuida Brewery matures its vinegar for more than twice as long, with a brewing period of 2 to 5 years. Black vinegar that has been aged for a long time has a more mature taste and aroma. As a result, Kakuida black vinegar has a beautiful amber hue and mellow yet memorable taste. After just one taste of Kakuida’s kurozu, you’ll be hooked on this delightfully refreshing product.
About the author:
Ailsa van Eeghen
Ailsa has been living in Japan since 2015 all the while enjoying the rich beauty of Kagoshima prefecture. She finds the most joy in exploring little villages, driving around the countryside and exploring the lesser known parts of Japan. Keenly interested in Japan’s regional diversity, you can often find her at michi-no-eki admiring all the local produce. You can find more of her travels and deep dives into Japanese culture on her Instagram @daysofailsa where she writes about her life in Japan.