According to legend, Kikkoman, one of Japan's oldest companies, wasfounded by a woman. Her name was Shige (pronounced “she-geh”) Maki. Asthe story goes, she was the matriarch of the Mogi family and thematernal ancestor of Yuzaburo Mogi, the U.S.-educated CEO who runsKikkoman today.
Back in the 1600s, Japan was torn by feudal civil wars. Ruthlesswarlords vied for power as their armies of samurai swept through theland waging bloody battles. Around 1615, the warlord Ieyasu Tokugawalaid siege to Osaka Castle, where Shige Maki lived with her husband, asamurai in service of the warlord Hideyori Toyotomi. In the battle thatfollowed, her husband was killed—and Shige and her son would have been,too. But she was a clever woman with a will to survive. She disguisedherself and her son as peasants, and they managed to slip away amid thechaos of the attack.
They made their way 300 miles north to Edo (today's Tokyo),and Shige changed her last name from Maki to Mogi so Tokugawa wouldnever find her. Mother and son settled in the village of Noda andblended in with local rice farmers. For 15 years, they cultivated riceand Shige learned the craft of brewing shoyu or soy sauce.Along the way, she made some refinements to the production process and,more than 350 years ago, began making the product that the world knowsnow as Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Today, Noda remains one of the great soysauce production centers of Japan.
So you see, behind every bottle of Kikkoman, there's a Kikko-woman. The remarkable, resourceful, Shige Maki.
For more information about the history of Kikkoman Soy Sauce, click here.
(Adapted from: “The Kikkoman Chronicles, A Global Company with a Japanese Soul,” written by Ronald E. Yates.)