Japanese Seasoning: Types of Miso Soybean Paste

The fermented, aged soybean paste “miso (味噌)” is one of the essential seasonings to us Japanese, mainly because, as you know, plain white rice and miso soup are the staples of the Japanese diet. But do you know there are several types of miso pastes Japanese people commonly use in everyday life?

Types of Miso 

Miso Soybean Paste

According to the official website of Marukome Miso (マルコメ味噌), a leading Japanese miso maker, there are 3 classifications concerning miso paste; one based on ingredients, another based on taste, and the last based on color.

Based on Ingredients

Based on ingredients, miso is classified into 4 types, that is, Kome Miso, Mugi Miso, Mame Miso, and Chogo Miso. The features and overviews of these miso pastes are as follows.

Types Main Ingredients Overviews
Kome Miso (米味噌: Rice Miso) Rice, Soybeans, and Salt White miso belongs to this type. Kome Miso accounts for about 80% of the miso produced in Japan
Mugi Miso (麦味噌: Barley Miso) Barley, Soybeans, and Salt Mugi Miso is produced largely in Western Japan, including these 3 regions, Chugoku (中国), Shikoku (四国), and Kyushu (九州)
Mame Miso (Soybean Miso: 豆味噌) Soybeans and Salt Mame Miso is produced mainly in the Chukyo (中京) region around Nagoya
Chogo Miso (調合味噌: Blended Miso) Chogo Miso is a blend of two or three varieties of miso paste from the above 3 types. In addition, the ones blended with malted rice (or malted barley or soybean koji) and the types other than Kome Miso, Mugi Miso, and Mame Miso are also included in Chogo Miso.

Based on Taste

Miso is classified, based on taste, into 3 types, that is, Ama Miso (甘味噌: Sweet Miso) with a salt content of 5 to 7 percent, Amakuchi Miso (甘口味噌: Moderately Sweet Miso) with a salt content of 7 to 12 percent, and Karakuchi Miso (辛口味噌: Dry-Taste Miso) with a salt content of 11 to 13 percent.

Not only does it depend on the amount of salt whether the seasoning paste is salty or not, but the ratio of rice (or barley) to soybeans is also important for the taste. In general, if 2 miso pastes contain the same amount of salt, the one whose ratio of rice (or barley) to soybeans is higher has a sweeter taste.

Based on Color

Miso is classified, based on color, into 3 types, Aka Miso (赤味噌: Red Miso), Shiro Miso (白味噌: White Miso), and Tanshoku-Kei Miso (淡色系味噌: Light-Colored Miso). The color of miso differs depending on the variety of ingredients, the cooking method of soybeans, whether the amount of koji is much or little, or other elements.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: