Kombu seaweed is one of traditional Japanese ingredients and has been enjoyed for a long time. If you go back in time, kombu seaweed first appear on the text on Heian era (715AC). It said that Hokkaido have being sending kombu seaweed as a gift to government but it takes dozen of days just to transport them and how it’s been a hassle. Since kombu was only harvested at northern parts of Japan, it was rare resource and often used hold high monetary value at the time.
Moreover, it has been said that some of the Japanese castles were made using kombu seaweed. How did they build that stable building that lasted more than centuries? Obviously back in the time, they did not have any machinery and all were made by man. When building the firm stonewalls, they used log just like an Egyptian did to build a pyramids. The difference is that Japanese used kombu seaweed as a lubricant for the log. They soaked kombu in the water and put it on top of log to roll around. Some says that kombu culture flourished from re-using kombu that was used for building castles.
On our Kurakon homepage, we wrote that the Osaka was the commercial center of Japan. Osaka was called nonpareil kitchen during early Edo era (1600AD). That’s because all the supply was once collected to Osaka and re-distributed to nation wide so that all the supply could be obtained in Osaka. Since Osaka could get any ingredients at that time, food and economy flourished.
Even though Edo (Tokyo) was the capital at the time and political center of Japan, they did not have enough product force ability in Edo region to sustain all the population on early 1600’s since Edo government starts, Osaka and Kyoto was the capital of politics. On other hand, Osaka had many middle size cities nearby and all the commerce existed from previous eras. Therefore, all the domains had storage in Osaka and supplies were stored here. Especially kombu seaweed, good quality kombu seaweed was stored in high temperature and humid helped maturity, increasing umami. (Savory taste). Since then, we have many companies that handle kombu seaweed in Osaka area including us.
In Edo, Kombu seaweed did not adopted till late Edo era (around 1700AD). That’s because there was no water route developed from Pacific Ocean and water quality of Edo. Water in Edo was hard water, which is not suited for getting dashi stock out of kombu.
Even now, we can still find much different culture between Osaka and Tokyo such as different dashi stock for udon noodle.
Even though kombu seaweed have been used for a long time, there are lot of space to improve and full of possibilities.