The Yawataya Isogoro Company had its origins in the mid-18th century. At that time, the northwest part of Nagano city, known as "Nishiyama", was famous for the production of hemp and Japanese paper. Merchants carried these products to Edo (present-day Tokyo) and to most other regions of Japan.
On their journeys throughout the country, the merchants bought food and daily necessities, and brought them back to sell in the environs of Zenkoji Temple as a side job. Some of the goods brought back by the merchants included shichimi togarashi.
One such merchant was Kan'emon, the founder of the Yawataya Isogoro Company. He began selling shichimi togarashi in the grounds of Zenkoji Temple in 1736.
What is special about them?
The ingredients used to make shichimi differ from area to area. The ingredients used by Yawataya Isogoro include medium strength chili peppers, spicy Japanese peppers called sansho (sichuan peppers), ginger, richly flavoured hemp seed, black sesame, dried orange peel and perilla. Their shichimi has a well-balanced spicy taste and great aroma. Also, all the ingredients that are used to make their shichimi are all from Japan.
Shichimi Togarashi: Flavour of Shinshu
The Nishiyama area was perfect for the production of six of the ingredients needed to make shichimi, except for dried mandarin orange peel. Nishiyama was a famous hemp-producing area, so hemp seeds were easily available. Also, Sichuan pepper grew naturally in the surrounding mountains. Local farmers were easily able to grow the remaining ingredients, namely chilli pepper, black sesame, ginger and perilla.
Since dried products kept longer, the last ingredient, dried mandarin orange peel, could be collected and carried from Kamigata (the modern-day Kansai area). This way, Yawataya Isogoro was able to create shichimi togarashi with a distinctive flavour reminiscent of the mountainous region of Shinshu.
Today they sell many kinds of flavoured shichimi to sansho, other spices. They are popular and sell out quickly! Make sure you get them before they are gone!
Yuzu Shichimi Togarashi
Ume shichimi sesame