Classic Miso Compares to the Zen Concept of ‘Circle’
TOKUSHIMA – These days miso is quite popular in many countries around the world. Many Japanese who used to learn English at school were taught that miso should be translated as “soybean paste.” This was true until several years ago. Today, miso is known by the original Japanese word “miso” almost globally. Americans, Canadians and Australians visit Japan hoping to purchase quality miso, declaring their love for this traditional Japanese condiment.
A food-conscious French teenager once surprised a Japanese miso manufacturer by saying she detected the taste of nuts in miso. It recently took a cutting-edge analysis machine to identify that nutty flavor in miso. I wonder how many Japanese consumers can say they detected the same?
The export of miso from Japan reached a record high*1 in 2017, an 8.5% increase from the previous year. Miso is increasingly enhancing its presence, especially in foreign countries.
Its popularity is gaining not only in the US but in South Korea, Thailand, China, Canada, Taiwan, France, Australia and the UK.
One of the reasons for this global popularity can be attributed to how several scientific papers published overseas highlighted miso’s health benefits. Authoritative science magazines like Nature and NCBI*2 also published reports that support miso’s efficacy.
In Japan, too, doctors are working hard to prove miso’s good effects. For example, Dr. Hiromitsu Watanabe, medical doctor and professor emeritus at Hiroshima University, experimented with mice and reported in his book “Miso Power” that miso protects our bodies from radiation, cancer, vascular diseases, diabetes and fatness.
In an experiment, Dr. Watanabe observed the change in the small intestine of mice, as this is where cellular division is the most active in the body. When you absorb radiation, cells die, and new cells are generated at a much slower rate. However, in this experiment, in which two groups of mice received radiation, the group that had eaten miso regenerated ten times more cells (at a cell regeneration rate of 0.1) than the other group, who had not eaten miso (at a rate of 0.01).
Dr. Watanabe described in his book that only mice who had eaten miso were relieved of the disability caused by radiation.*3