Buddhist monks introduced soy sauce into Japan in the 7th century. The Japanese word "tamari" is derived from the verb "tamaru" that signifies "to accumulate", referring to the fact that tamari was traditionally from the liquid byproduct produced during the fermentation of miso.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin, the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads.
Miso for sale in a Tokyo food hall. Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.
Most but not all Japanese soy sauces include wheat as a primary ingredient, which tends to give them a slightly sweeter taste than their Chinese counterparts.
Tamari is produced mainly in the Chūbu region of Japan, and is darker in appearance and richer in flavour than koikuchi. It contains little or no wheat.
Koikuchi ("strong flavor") is the most popular Japanese domestic soy sauce product (80% of the market). It is produced from roughly equal quantities of soybean and wheat.
Kikkoman is the most popular brand of soy sauce in Japan and the United States.
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