1. Ikkyu-ji natto is a kind of natto (fermented soybeans) that is said to have been introduced by a Muromachi-era monk, Sojun Ikkyu. It is different from the ordinary sticky natto and is classified as tera-natto.
2. Fermented by kohji-kin fungus and sun-dried over a period of one year, soybeans turn into amino-acid rich natto. Its pitch-black appearance, saltiness and savor similar to that of red miso (bean paste) are the characteristics of Ikkyu-ji natto.
3. For the monks who refrain from meat-eating, Ikkyu-ji natto is an important source of protein. It is also valued as a non-perishable food.
4. Today, there’s only one other place beside the Ikkyu-ji temple that produces Ikkyu-ji natto. Sadly, it is part of the vanishing food culture of Japan.
5. Generally it makes a good snack to go with drinks, but it can be enjoyed with rice or even used as a condiment. True natto lovers put Ikkyu-ji natto over regular natto to savor “natto on natto.”