Agehama-Style Salt Making in Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture
This 3-minute video, titled "[4K Video] Japan's Only Remaining "Agehama-Style Salt Making" in Noto: Suzu, Ishikawa｜nippon.com" (【4K動画】能登に国内で唯一残る「揚浜式製塩」：石川・珠洲 | nippon.com) was released by "nippon.com." It introduces the Agehama-style salt making process that has been passed down for generations in Ishikawa prefecture in Japan's Hokuriku region (北陸地方).
In this article, we'll explain in detail the production method used in Agehama-style salt making, a traditional technique that has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.
This manually produced natural salt not only tastes delicious, but is also packed with healthy nutrients and minerals.
Agehama-style salt is highly praised by chefs all over Japan for its ability to completely transform a dish.
It's also a popular souvenir to take home from Ishikawa prefecture.
More About Ishikawa Prefecure's Agehama-Style Salt Making
Agehama-style salt making involves an ancient method to produce salt in which seawater is poured over salt evaporation ponds known as "enden" (塩田) in Japanese.
A high level of skill and a great deal of experience is required to produce salt using this method.
This method of salt making in Noto Peninsula dates as far back as the late 16th century when, at the time, salt production was encouraged by the Kaga daimyo (加賀藩主) as a means of supporting the local economy.
The locals were able to borrow rice by paying for it with the salt they produced.
In 2008, this Agehama-style method of salt making was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property and in 2018, the emperor at the time came to observe the salt production process first hand.
Currently, Suzu city in Ishikawa prefecture is the only place where salt continues to be manufactured in this way.
More About the Agehama-Style Salt Making Process
Agehama-style salt making begins with carrying salt water from the sea in a process called "Kaisuihakobi" (海水運び).
You can see this part of the process from 0:17 in the video.
Then, from 0:36, you can see the seawater, which has been collected into a special type of round container called a "shikoke" (引桶), as it is sprinkled evenly across the salt evaporation ponds in a process called "shiomaki" (潮撒き).
To ensure the seawater dries quickly, a rake-like tool called a "komazarae" (細攫え) is used to create grooves across the salt pan which encourages evaporation of the water by the wind and the heat from the sun.
A tool known as an Iburi (柄振) is then used to gather sand in a process called "Kanzunaatsume".
This sand is then shoveled into a wooden box-like structure called a "Tarefune" with a tool known as a "Shippatsu" (しっぱつ).
Seawater is then poured into the Tarefune which washes off and separates the salt from the sand producing "kansui" (鹹水).
From 1:38 in the video, you can see the boiling process.
The Kansui is boiled for approximately 6 hours after which it is cooled down before being filtered in a container called a "douke" (胴桶).
The Kansui is then boiled for another 16 hours until crystallized salt is produced.
This is then stored for another 4 days in an "Ideba" (い出場) or Shiodoko (塩床) to separate the salt from the "Nigari" (苦汁, concentrated solution of salts left over after the crystallization of seawater) and rid it of any impurities.
Only then is the salt finally ready to be packaged.
It takes approximately 600 liters of seawater to produce only 120 kilograms of salt.
Ishikawa Prefecture's Agehama-Style Salt Making Introduction Summary
You can purchase salt produced in Ishikawa prefecture using the Agehama-style salt making process at a price of 400 yen for 50 grams.
Other products, such as salt drinks, herb salts, or salt ice cream are also for sale.
Salt-making experiences at Suzu city's roadside station (道の駅) are also very popular among tourists to Ishikawa prefecture.
This video explains in detail the steps involved in the Agehama-style salt making process.
If you're interested in learning more about this traditional salt production method, we highly recommend checking out the video.