Japanese nori seaweed, prepared using traditional techniques adapted from paper-making in the Edo era

Nori seaweed has been an important part of Japanese cuisine since the Edo period

    Surrounded by oceans and blessed by the bountiful produce of the sea, the Japanese people have been enjoying nori seaweed since time immemorial. Nori is mentioned in literature dating back around 1,300 years, when lichen was a special item served to nobles and samurai in the medieval period. Nori cultivation started in Tokyo Bay during the Edo era. The sprawling metropolis of Edo had a major recycling system that extended to paper recycling. The techniques used for making paper were adapted to nori production to make the square sheets we know today. Yakinori (a more fragrant version made by toasting over a charcoal fire) first appeared in the middle of the Edo period. Nori soon became indelibly associated with the city of Edo, and was embraced as a key component of Japanese cuisine.

The invention of high-grade ajitsuke-nori (seasoned nori)

 Tokujiro Yamamoto founded Yamamoto Noriten in 1849 in the Muromachi district of Nihonbashi in Edo. The second-generation owner of Yamamoto Noriten introduced eight different types of nori tailored to different uses, such as home cooking, gift packs, and sushi shops. Previously, nori had only been available in one form, called asakusa-nori.
 Some years later, on the occasion of the imperial visit by the Meiji Emperor to Kyoto, Yamamoto Noriten went to great lengths to develop a new type of nori as a tribute: this was ajitsuke-nori. Ajitsuke-nori was subsequently offered to the general public and proved a great hit. This is the story of how Yamamoto Noriten invented ajitsuke-nori. In the modern era, Yamamoto Noriten maintains the same attention to quality and the same desire to explore new avenues.

Our unique approach is the secret

 Autumn is planting season, while harvesting takes place in winter. Nori producers all over Japan are graded and classified via a strict quality testing regime, before moving to the tender process. The classification system has around 800 to 1,000 categories. Yamamoto Noriten buyers inspect products carefully and select only those that satisfy our stringent standards and expectations. Once the nori reaches the Yamamoto Noriten factory, it is subject to further inspection and regrading by our expert team of nori inspectors. At Yamamoto Noriten, we insist on the strictest quality standards to ensure that only the finest quality products reach our customers.

Fresh product arrives from the Saga Factory

 The two key characteristics of good nori are the feathery texture that melts in the mouth, and intensity of flavor. It is the job of the Saga Factory to ensure that both characteristics are present. The Saga Factory is located right near the Ariake Sea, the nori capital of Japan. This guarantees that the freshest possible product reaches the factory immediately after harvest. The factory itself boasts the latest production equipment, designed to preserve maximum freshness in a safe and hygienic environment.

About the Maru-ume logo
 There are two theories about the origins of the Maru-ume logo that appears on Yamamoto Noriten products. The first holds that back when Yamamoto Noriten was founded, the best quality nori was harvested from the waters of Edo in the depths of winter, when the plum tree comes into flower.
The other is that nori, like plums, is largely defined by its sweet fragrance.
 We can be sure that both of these theories contributed to the decision by the founders to adopt the Maru-ume plum logo on their product. It is no coincidence that many Yamamoto Noriten products employ the word plum ("ume"), such as Ume no Hana, Ume no Tomo, and Kobai (written with the character for plum).

What do "ichiban-tsumi" and "hatsu-tsumi" mean?

 Ichiban-tsumi and hatsu-tsumi refer to the first seaweed from a given location in a given harvest season, which is normally from November to December. Young nori harvested just 30 days after seeding is considered to be the softest and most fragrant. Once large nori bodies that have grown on nets are harvested, tiny nori buds beneath start growing, and after 10 or 15 days, the buds will grow to a size that can be harvested. These are referred to as "niban-tsumi," meaning the second harvest. Nori from the second harvest will be slightly tougher than the first, and so on with each successive harvest. Yamamoto Noriten gift packs are nearly always made from the softest first harvest (ichiban-tsumi) nori.