Basics of Japanese Soy Sauce or Shoyu

Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Announcements, Blog, Japanese Food Basics | 10 comments



Soy sauce, in many ways, is the backbone of Japanese seasoning and cooking.

Before we delve into this subject, I realize that learning and reading about Japanese ingredients, such as soy sauce (shoyu) might not be of interest to some folks, but I’d like to share with you that writing about Japanese ingredients, foods and recipes has suddenly taken on a new meaning for me.

I have a new job.

That’s right, I am no longer Judy, (unemployed) stay-at-home-mommy, but rather, I am partially-employed Judy, freelance writer and contributor to’s Japanese food channel.

Don’t get me wrong, I still stay at home and shuttle Bebe back and forth from pre-kindergarden, her various extracurricular activities, as well as to play with her at the park and take her on bike rides; but I also work (the paying kind) from home. Juggling work at home, while ideal for my situation, is not as easy as it seems. I am always looking for stretches of time where I can concentrate without distractions and it’s not easy. However, I’m grateful for my lovely new job.

It’s funny how life turns out sometimes.

I started this blog as a hobby and always shied away from placing ads on my site or to monetize it, but fortunately a talent scout from found my blog and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I get paid to blog about the very food that I’ve always loved to write about.

Periodically, I’ll be sharing new articles that I’ve published on, here on my blog. Some of the recipes I’ve shared over the course of the history of my blog might soon be published on as well, but whenever I have something new to share, I’ll mention it here so that you can hop on over to, if you choose.

Otherwise, I’ll continue to blog about my life inside and outside the kitchen and I’ll continue to share recipes that my family enjoys.

One of the first articles I wrote for is regarding Japanese soy sauce, or shoyu. You can find that article here.

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Basically, Japanese soy sauce is both an ingredient in Japanese cooking and also a condiment. It is often used in place of salt, and provides great depth of flavor, or “umami”.

Soy sauce is made through a fermentation process involving soy beans, wheat, salt and a mold agent, ultimately producing a salty, dark reddish-brown liquid. You will find a variety of soy sauces available at Japanese or asian supermarkets for your enjoyment.

The five basic types of soy sauce include:

  1. Regular or dark soy sauce
    – Used for cooking and seasoning.
  2. Light soy sauce
    – Lighter in color but saltier in flavor.
  3. Low-sodium soy sauce
    – Contains almost 40% less sodium that regular soy sauce.
  4. Tamari soy sauce
    – Thicker and richer than regular soy sauce, but less salty.
  5. Specialty (seasoned) soy sauce
    – Soy sauce seasoned with katsuo dashi (dried bonito stock), oysters and more.

Read more about Japanese soy sauce in my article on

See you over there!


  1. avatar

    congrats, Judy! that’s so exciting!!

    • avatar

      Thanks, Melissa!

  2. avatar

    Congrats on the new job! What a great fit for you! I love your writing style and I’m sure I’ll stumble on your stuff on if I don’t see it here first.

    • avatar

      Thank you, Christine! I think I write freely on my personal blog here, as though I’m talking to a friend, since I know my family and friends read my blog. However, on, I’m still trying to find my voice. Trying to keep things a bit more professional and authoritative over there, without all of my silly/quirky thoughts which I don’t hesitate to “let loose” over here. :) Again, still getting my feet wet and figuring it out.

  3. avatar

    Omodetou! Congratulations on your new job! I have been following your blog for some time now and thoroughly enjoy your posts. I know I’ll enjoy your articles on too.

    I may not be a typical reader, but I enjoy learning about ingredients (so thank you for the post about shoyu!). I also appreciate knowing Japanese names for things (and the kanji too — even if I can’t read the language I try to compare kanji on labels). Thank you for a fun and educational blog.

    • avatar

      Hi Holly, Thank you so much for your kind words! I always wonder who is reading my blog, and it’s very nice to hear from you! Now that I know that you are interested in ingredients, I will be sure to share similar posts and I will try and add kanji characters for reference as well. I never thought about that much when I shop since I can kind-of read some ingredient related kanji to get by. I also have friends who are fluent and tend to quickly take photos on my phone and text it to them for a quick and dirty translation. I appreciate your feedback. Cheers!

  4. avatar

    Congratulations, my dear friend!

    • avatar

      Thanks Turtle Mama, hope you are well! :)

  5. avatar

    Yay new job! That’s very exciting and I’m sure you’ll do fantastically.

    I just wanted to impart a more personal thanks for this blog. I used to live in Tokyo as an undergrad and have always loved Japanese food. Now that I live in DC, it’s easier than ever to really embrace home-style Japanese cooking. At this point, my kitchen is nearly 100% “Japanese” and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t really follow any recipes, but cobble together the parts I like from 5-6 coupled with plenty of online research.

    I read your blog like a textbook. Thank you for being so thorough and ambitious in your blogging. Your willingness to share your knowledge really has enriched my life! Thank you again, and take care!

    • avatar

      Hi Liz, Thank you so much for leaving a comment and for all your kind words! It’s always a nice treat to hear from those that read my blog. How wonderful that you spent some time in Japan! I really love spending time there and I especially love all the delicious foods. I can’t wait ’til I have the chance to go back for a visit. Cheers!