Kombu Kelp

Kombu Kelp

Sakai's experienced artisans turn Hokkaido's kelp into a delicacy.

Kombu Road and Sakai's Kombu

Kombu RoadThe existance of a transportation route for kombu from Hokkaido played a major part in developing the kombu processing industry in Sakai.
"Kombu Road", as it was called, was the route by which the kombu was brought from Hokkaido to Sakai. It followed the more calm marine route along the Japan Sea from Hokkaido to Tsuruga, Obama, Shimonoseki, Osaka, and finally Sakai.
At first, kombu was only shipped as far as Tsuruga and Obama. It was then carried across land to Otsu, from where it was transported to Osaka by boat using the Yodo-gawa River.
By the beginning of the 18th century, the shipping route was extended to Osaka and Sakai, and subsequently a large volume of kombu started to arrive in Sakai.
A full-scale kombu processing industry started in Sakai at the same time.

At its peak, around the 1920s, there were some 150 kombu processing plants in Sakai.
Extremely thin sheets and fibers of kombu called "tororo" and "oboro" are major products of the kombu industry in Sakai today. Tororo kombu is machine processed, while a skilled artisan manually scrape-shaves each piece of oboro kombu to preserve its quality.

How Tororo Kombu is Made

  1. Soaking
    SoakingTo soften and to add taste to the kombu, it is soaked in rice vinegar for about 2 hours.

  2. Cutting
    CuttingThe kombu is cut into a suitable size for pressing.

  3. Removing Sand
    Sand is removed by a vibrating machine.

  4. Adding Flavor
    Adding FlavorThe kombu and various seasonings are mixed together in a mixer.

  5. Pressing
    PressingThe kombu is pressed into a 60 kg square block.

  6. Shaving
    ShavingThe kombu block is vertically shaved with an automatic shaver. Each machine can produce approximately 100 kg of tororo kombu in one day.

Useful Tips about Kombu

Kombu is a health food known to reduce high blood pressure and fatty tissue. Kombu also contains iron and such alkaline minerals as potassium, sodium, and calcium.

Manually Shaved Oboro Kombu

Oboro Kombu After the sand is removed from the unprocessed kombu, and it has been soaked in rice vinegar to soften and add taste to, each piece of kombu is carefully scrape-shaved into 0.05 mm sheets with a special scrape-shaver.
The white part left over is further processed and used as a thin covering for battera, a kind of boxed sushi that is popular in Osaka.

Various Types of Kombu

Name Color Features
Ma Kombu Dark brown Thick and wide. Delicate taste.
The finest quality kombu.
Rishiri Kombu Blackish dark brown A little harder than ma kombu.
Salty and quite tasty. The second best quality kombu.
Rishiri-type Kombu
Brown Also known as Rausu kombu.
Has a contrasting taste to ma kombu.
Mitsuishi Kombu
Hidaka Kombu
Dark green Soft and easy to cook.
Used to make kombu-maki (rolled kombu).
Naga (long) Kombu Dark gray 6 - 15 meters long. Not very sweet in taste
but the thicker pieces are quite tasty.
Atsuba (thick leaved)
Black The inside is white and contains a yam-like substance.
Tastes bitter rather than sweet.
Hosome Kombu Black The inside is white. The sweet taste fades quickly.

Loaction & Contact Information

[Manufacturers' Associations]
●Sakai Kombu Processing Association
C/O Nakano Bussan Co.,Ltd.
14-20 Daisen-nakamachi Sakai-ku, Sakai 590-0801
Phone: (072) 241-9505