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Umami-Packed 'Mushroom Ichiban' is Crowned Ultimate Seasoning Champion of 2023

Locally brewed soy sauce further enhances the umami of Mushroom Ichiman, a versatile seasoning selling out faster than the producers can make it.



Food Shokubo's President Yosuke Sakamaki presents a jar of Mushroom Ichiban on December 7 at the Abiko City Hall. (©Hiroaki Okada)

A mushroom seasoning made in Chiba prefecture has been crowned Japan's seasoning champion of 2023. Chiba prefecture is the biggest producer of button mushrooms in Japan. The winning seasoning, Mushroom Ichiban, is crafted using mushrooms cultivated in Katori city. These mushrooms are then marinated in locally brewed soy sauce, resulting in a distinctive umami flavor. The product has become so popular that the producer can barely keep up with orders.

The annual Seasoning Championship is organized by the Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association. It serves as a platform to showcase seasonings from different regions. Mushroom Ichiban was developed by Food Shokubo, a food processing company based in Abiko. It claimed the top spot among 211 entries nationwide. Priced at ¥648 (about $4.45 USD) per bottle, the seasoning also won the grand prize in the contest's Local Specialty Division.

A Versatile Seasoning

To bring out the star ingredient's texture as well as its taste, the sauce uses both minced mushroom and mushroom paste. Butter and soy sauce are incorporated for added richness.

"We have created a versatile seasoning that can be used in both Japanese and Western cuisine," says Food Shokubo's President Yosuke Sakamaki. "It is also recommended as a topping for rice with raw egg or even as a pasta sauce." 

In Japan, eating raw eggs with rice is common due to the safety of locally produced eggs.

In 2022, Food Shokubo participated in the seasoning competition with its Japanese Leek Sauce, which came second in the general category. The leek-based seasoning resulted from a collaboration with local radio station bayfm. Mushroom Ichiban is their second joint product.

White and brown button mushrooms (file photo)

The Champion of Mushrooms

Since June 2023, Mushroom Ichiban has been made available at the company's direct sales outlets and highway rest areas in the prefecture. The robust sales have overwhelmed President Sakamaki. "Even if we doubled production, we would not be able to keep up," he exclaims.

On December 7, he reported the company's achievement to Mayor Junichiro Hoshino of his hometown, Abiko. Expressing his company's commitment to rising to new challenges, Sakamaki stated, "We will continue to be rooted in the local community and process delicious foods produced in the prefecture. Next, we want to venture into processing seafood."


According to the prefectural government, the value of Chiba's button mushroom production reached ¥2.3 billion JPY (about $15.8 million USD) in 2021. This constitutes 34 percent of the national share — the highest among all Japanese prefectures. Undoubtedly, button mushrooms stand as Chiba's ichiban ("number one") agricultural product.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Hiroaki Okada

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