JACAR Newsletter
【JACAR Newsletter Number 19, February 04, 2016】
Documents Spotlight

Mentaiko and the Japanese People

Today many Japanese are fond of eating mentaiko (明太子; seasoned cod roe) with white rice. The history of this food that has become an everyday dietary choice for many can be reconstructed through documents that provide insight into modern Asia.

Mentaiko was originally eaten on the Korean peninsula. Raw materials of mentaiko is the ovary walleye pollock, which is called 'myeongtae' (명태). Usually angled in winter, the walleye pollock are typically frozen and dried outdoors and their inner organs, which go bad quickly, are removed. The dried cod is called 'bugeo' (북어), and the high quality ones are referred to as 'hwangtae' (황태). They are popular foods used in Korean rituals.

Japanese fishing boats traveled to Korea in the Meiji era, after the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876 was signed, and fishermen found the walleye pollock cod to be a valuable aquatic resource. [Image 1-1] and [Image 1-2] are from reports on the fishing of a cod variety named walleye pollock. The reports were drawn up by the Japanese Consulate in Wonsan, on the Korean east coast (Reference Code: B11091838300).

* Click to Enlarge [Image 1-2] Title: 2. Wonsan (8th image)
[Image 1-2] Title: 2. Wonsan (8th image)
* Click to Enlarge [Image 1-1] Title: 2. Wonsan (7th image)
[Image 1-1] Title: 2. Wonsan (7th image)

Salted cod roe with red peppers are called 'myeongran jeot' (명란젓) and it is thought that they have been eaten in Korea since the 17th century. Myeongran jeot appealed to Japanese tastes and a report on the 1900 fishing industry, by the Korean Association of Fishery, details that "salted roe are sold widely. They are delicious but expensive" (Reference Code: B11091851500, 52nd image).

By 1907, myeongran jeot, which had been consumed among Korean families, started getting exported to Japan via Busan to Shimonoseki. The item 'walleye pollock roe' appeared first in a1914 list of foreign trade statistics made by the Korea Governor- General's Office (Reference Code: A06032044100, 13th image). The name mentaiko, as Japanese call the food today, came to be widely accepted.

A 1917 trade manual published by the Korea Governor- General's Office suggests that the roe from the cod 'walleye pollack' had earlier been consumed only by Koreans, but then its market extended to the Kansai region in Japan and for Dalian in China. And that book says that this market growth occurred in the beginning of the Taisho era, because Japanese people had resided in Korea and came to like the food. Once mentaiko was produced as a sideline of pollock fisheries, manufacturing method was crude, there was what the state had become worse. Nevertheless demand was increased, guilds were organized in order to standardize and improve quality (Reference Code: A06032043800)(see [Image 2-1] and [Image 2-2]).

* Click to Enlarge [Image 2-2] Title : 1917 Korean Trade Manual (99th image)
[Image 2-2] Title : 1917 Korean Trade Manual (99th image)
* Click to Enlarge [Image 2-1] Title : 1917 Korean Trade Manual (98th image)
[Image 2-1] Title : 1917 Korean Trade Manual (98th image)

The number of manufacturers and sellers of this roe increased annually, mainly in Busan, due to growing demand in Japan. In the Taisho era, Japanese people had come to be familiar with mentaiko imported through Shimonoseki. According to moreover, 1919 report from the Japanese Consulate at Fengtian, China show that mentaiko had also been imported from Korea for Japanese families living in this city (Reference Code: B11091966800, 11th-16th images).

From August 1945, after the Second World War, Japanese living in Korea were repatriated. They could bring only a small amount of baggage and memories of their lives abroad. Once the people returned to Shimonoseki or Fukuoka, they began to make the mentaiko they had grown accustomed to eating in Korea. In Shimonoseki, in 1946 or 1947, Kozo Yamane (山根孝三), who had repatriated from Busan, sold mentaiko made from Hokkaido cod roe that he covered with red pepper. Yamane also worked to support mentaiko manufacturers in Shimonoseki. Another repatriate who went on to promote mentaiko consumption was Toshio Kawahara (川原俊夫). He was born and raised in Busan during the Japanese reign, migrated to Manchuria, drafted into the Army there, and was demobilized at the end of the war. He repatriated from Manchuria with a wife and children, and they opened a grocery store in Nakasu, Hakata. Kawahara promoted research and development of pickled mentaiko in a liquid seasoning with red peppers, and, in 1957, he began to sell it. Soon, the number of mentaiko makers increased and this product became well-known in Japan as a local specialty of Fukuoka. This story about the topic was featured in the television drama Mentai Piriri (Television Nishinippon Corporation, 2013).

The historical roots of mentaiko in Korea can be examined in documents accessible through JACAR. The story of the food's reputation growing among Japanese as well as their eventual repatriation after World War Two can be researched along with other related topics, including politics, diplomacy, and military histories. While many influential and well-known politicians, soldiers, and industrialists are depicted in JACAR files, there are also lesser known individuals who have lived in difficult times and have made a part of history. When you enter everyday keywords into the JACAR database, you can find many surprising discoveries to be made about their historical backgrounds.


Imanishi, Hajime 今西一, and Nakatani, Mitsuo 中谷三男, Mentaiko kaihatsu-shi: Sono rūtsu wo saguru 明太子開発史―そのルーツを探る [Develop history of Mentaiko: Seeking its roots]. Seizan-do Shoten, 2008. (In Japanese)

Kawahara, Takeshi 川原健, Mentaiko wo tsukutta otoko: Fukuya sōgyōsya Kawahara Toshio no jinsei to keiei 明太子をつくった男―ふくや創業者・川原俊夫の人生と経営 [The man made Mentaiko: The life and management of Toshio Kawahara, the founder of Fukuya]. Kaichosha, 2013. (In Japanese)

Shimamura, Takanori 島村恭則 (ed.), Hikiage-sha no sengo 引揚者の戦後 [Postwar days of the repatriate]. Shin-yo-sha, 2013. (In Japanese)

Takekuni, Tomoyasu 竹国友康, Hamo no tabi, Mentai no yume: Nikkann sakana kōryū-shi ハモの旅、メンタイの夢―日韓さかな交流史 [Conger pike's journey, Walleye pllock's Dream: The history of fish exchange between Japan and Korea]. Iwanami Shoten, 2013. (In Japanese)

(Yasuaki Maruyama, Inspector at JACAR)

Information on Newly Released Documents
[Documents released on July 21, 2015]
National Archives of Japan
Prime Minister's Secretariat General Affairs Division Records
This unit includes organized and compiled materials from the Cabinet Secretariat General Affairs Division that mainly cover the period up to 1945. Important materials include: Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), Kokutai Mincho (clarification of the fundamental concept of national polity, 1935), Tohoku Development (1935), February 26 Incident (1936), Science Review Council (1938), Parliamentary System Review Council (1938), Northern and Central China Development (1938), Nation's General Mobilization (1938), Administrative Simplification Procedures (1942), End of World War II (1945) and records related to the revision of the Constitution. Also included are several records from the Meiji and Taisho periods. These records were produced or acquired by successive directors of the Cabinet Secretariat General Affairs Division and Sano, the Director at the Cabinet Secretariat General Affairs Division, during their term of office.
[Documents released on August 6, 2015]
National Archives of Japan
Dajo Ruiten : Grand Council of State Categories of Regulations (including drafts)
Dajo Ruiten Vol.1 1867-1870
Formal regulations (precedents, laws, ordinances, etc.) that were recorded and transcribed from Dajokan Nikki, Dajokan Nisshi, Kobun Roku, etc. are categorized into 19 divisions from institutions to criminal procedures and compiled in chronological order. Drafts at the time of compilation also remain. "Dajo Ruiten Vol.1 1867-1870", which comprised of documents from 1867 to 1870, includes documents concerning the various systems at the time of the Meiji Restoration of Japan.
[Documents released on December 15, 2015]
The National Institute for Defense Studies, Ministry of Defense
Army Records (Rid of Dainikki)
Chuo (General)
Sakusen Shido (Operation Command)
Sonota (Others)
This series includes drafted documents which detail the history dating back to the foundation of the General Staff Headquarters as well as operation orders given to the commanding officer of units stationed in Korea, the Governor-General of Guandong (Kwantung), and the commanding officer of Karafuto (Sakhalin) garrison after the Russo-Japanese War. There are also documents concerning cooperation efforts between Imperial Japanese Army and Navy during the Pacific War, etc.
The National Institute for Defense Studies, Ministry of Defense
Army Records (Rid of Dainikki)
Chuo (General)
Gunji Gyosei (Military Administration)
Sonota (Others)
This series includes lists of Japanese government offices and Army units, a report concerning German air forces for Emperor Showa from Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita (Inspector General of Army Aviation and also Chief of the Air Service Head Office) who led the examination expedition to Germany, pamphlets compiled by the Showa era Army Ministry, and a publication titled "Shokan danwa geppo" which only Army Genarals were permitted to read, etc.
[Documents released on January 5, 2016]
National Archives of Japan
Kobun Ruishu : Various Official Records Compilations
Materials from the period between 1882 and 1885 (Sections 6 to 9), which are compilations that follow "Dajo Ruiten" (Sections 1 to 5), include records and clean copies of formal regulations. Those from the period after 1886 (Sections 10 to 79), which are compilations of the original records, consist mainly of records of laws and regulations. More documents on the Meiji era were added.
[Documents released on January 6, 2016]
Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Series 6: Personnel Affairs
Category 1: Government Organization and Posts
Section 1: Japanese General Government Organization
Section 2: Government Organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rules and Diplomatic Establishments Abroad
Section 3: Foreign Government Organization and Foreign Diplomatic Establishments
The Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "Series 6: Personnel Affairs" is comprised of Meiji and Taisho era documents concerning Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel affairs. The first half of "Category 1: Government Organization and Posts," consisting of documents concerning government organization and relevant matters, is now available. "Section 1: Japanese General Government Organization" consists of documents on government organizations in places such as Nan'yo Cho (territorial government of South Pacific Mandate) and the Kwantung Governor-General Office. "Section 2: Government Organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rules and Diplomatic Establishments Abroad" consists of documents on government organization and work rules of the Ministry. Documents include those relating to rules and regulations of overseas diplomatic establishments, police officers serving overseas, and students sent abroad by the Ministry. "Section 3: Foreign Government Organization and Foreign Diplomatic Establishments" consists of documents on organizations of foreign ministries of other countries as well as regulations of foreign diplomatic corps in Japan and lists of diplomatic corps residing abroad.
Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Series M: Government Organization, Government Post
Category 2: Government Post
Section 3: Meeting
Section 4: Examination, Training, Studying Abroad
Section 5: Foreign Ambassador and Minister, Consul and Personnel of Diplomatic Establishments, Commercial Delegation
Section 6: Diplomatic and Consulate Prerogative
Section 7: Diplomatic and Consulate Corps
The Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "Series M: Government Organization, Government Post" is comprised of early Showa era documents on Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel affairs. The second half of "Category 2: Government Post," consisting of documents on government organization and duties in the ministry, is now available. "Section 3: Meeting" consists of documents on meetings of consuls and chiefs of the Japanese overseas diplomatic establishments. "Section 4: Examination, Training, Studying Abroad" includes reports about diplomatic service examinations in foreign countries and documents on training programs of languages and other skills for diplomats. "Section 5: Foreign Ambassador and Minister, Consul and Personnel of Diplomatic Establishments, Commercial Delegation" consists of documents on personnel changes in overseas diplomatic establishments of other countries, including foreign diplomatic corps in Japan. "Section 6: Diplomatic and Consulate Prerogative" consists of documents on diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities, including documents on the management of diplomatic privileges both in Japan and other countries as well as simplified customs clearance applied to commodities used at Japanese and foreign diplomatic establishments. "Section 7: Diplomatic and Consulate Corps" consists of documents on diplomatic and consulate corps, including lists of foreign diplomats residing abroad and in Japan.
Reports from JACAR Users

"Crossing the Oceans: An Exhibition on Japanese Studying Abroad from the Past to Present"

(Kanako Fujino, Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library)

From September 10 to October 25, 2015, we held an exhibition on the history of Japanese students who have gone abroad to receive their educations. The exhibition examined the legacy of Japanese foreign exchange students from ancient times until the present day. Research was conducted using our own references at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library as well as the resources from a number of organizations, notably including the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR).

A view of the exhibition room
A view of the exhibition room

This exhibition consisted of four parts: "The Ancient History of Japanese Envoys to Sui and Tang Dynasty China"; "The Sixteenth Century's Tensho Embassy"; "The Nineteenth Century’s Opening of Japan"; and "Our Contemporary Era". We explored these different historical periods in the exhibition with a range of panels, books, DVDs, chronological tables and websites that emphasized the experiences of Japanese students living abroad in many eras and countries.

The Nineteenth Century's Opening of Japan exhibit section
"The Nineteenth Century's Opening of Japan" exhibit section and a computer displaying "The Iwakura Mission as Seen in Official Documents" is on the right side.

In "The Nineteenth Century's Opening of Japan", we focused on students sent abroad by the government in a period of transition as the archipelago of Japan transitioned from feudal domains to a modern nation. At this time the Iwakura Mission brought many students, including Umeko Tsuda, to the West. About this experience of travel and study, we presented mission panels, sailing charts, an official report, the biography of Tsuda, and the JACAR web exhibition "The Iwakura Mission as Seen in Official Documents". In the JACAR web exhibition, many documents can be seen via the chronological tales of the mission's trip, and there is a glossary of persons and terms concerning the mission.

We integrated digital media whenever possible into this exhibit and so we installed a computer for visitors to freely explore "The Iwakura Mission as Seen in Official Documents". We also incorporated a web based chronological table into the exhibit, which was visited by many individuals including a group researching the Iwakura Mission. A number of visitors were interested in the computer setup among piles of books and they took a close look at "The Iwakura Mission as Seen in Official Documents". Drawn into the online exhibit, the visitors gained a great deal of information. By integrating JACAR's web exhibition, we could enrich the content of our exhibition and approach it from additional angles.

Outreach Activities

[Publicity Work]


May 15-18
Held a session at an academic symposium in Changde sponsored by Hunan University of Arts and Science.
May 26-29
JACAR Director-General Sumio Hatano gave a speech titled "The San Francisco Peace Treaty Regime and the Establishment of Diplomacy between Japan and Korea" at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul and also in Daegu at Keimyung University College of International Studies. At the same locations, another JACAR staff member also held a lecture for university students and had a discussion with staff of the institute. Additionally, JACAR held discussions with secretary-general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat in Seoul, visited the Diplomatic Archives in Seoul, and had a discussion with the director of the archives.
June 21-26
Held a booth exhibition at AAS-in-Asia in Taipei. Had a discussion about researching archival documents with members of the National Central Library in Taipei. Had a discussion on researching archival documents with members of the National Archives Administration of the National Development Council.
July 6-9
JACAR Director-General Sumio Hatano gave speech titled "The Memories of 'Defeat' and 'Victory' of Japanese Army in the China Theater (1937-1945)" at the International Conference on the Seventieth Anniversary of China's Victory in the War Against Japan.
September 15-26
Held booth exhibition with workshop and participated in session at 2015 European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) conference in Leiden. Had discussions about researching archival documents with members of Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) in Amsterdam. Had discussions about researching archival documents with members of Dutch National Archives in Den Haag. Participated in the ceremony for publication of the English version of a volume of "Senshi Sōsho" held by the Corts Foundation. Visited Museum Bronbeek in Arnheim and had a discussion with the director of the museum. Held discussions with members of the British Library in London.


July 29-30
Exhibited at Association of Education and Research on History 56th Annual Conference at Tokyo University Hongo Campus.
August 27-28
Exhibited at Japan Association of Private University Libraries 76th General Meeting and Study Meeting at Meiji Gakuin University Yokohama Campus.
October 13-16
JACAR Director-General Sumio Hatano gave a speech at the 12th East Asian Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (EASTICA) at the Hotel Okura Fukuoka.
November 9-12
Exhibited at 17th Library Fair & Forum at Pacifico Yokohama.
November 17-20
Presented and held booth exhibition at 63rd Annual Conference of the Japanese Association of Museums at Kure Hankyu Hotel.


May 27
Chiu Chu-mei, Deputy Division Director, Information Technology Division of the National Archives Administration of the National Development Council, staff (meeting held at the National Archives of Japan)
July 23
Morteza Damanpak Jami, Deputy for Research, Center for International Research and Education (CIRE) and Manager of Foreign Ministry Publication (meeting held at the National Archives of Japan)
November 27
Wang Dongbo, Director Assistant of the National Library of China (meeting held at the National Archives of Japan)
January 15
Yasuyo Otsuka, Japanese Section, Asian and African Studies, The British Library
Event Informations on the Related Organs
January 9 to March 5
Featured Exhibition :
"Born and Raised: Japanese Maternal and Child Health in Retrospect"
In Japan, the safety of childbirth and the health of babies have been improved after the Meiji era in the 1860s. This exhibition mainly shows the National Archives of Japan holdings related to the history of modern state measures to enhance the life and health of mothers and babies.
February 6 to March 21
Special Joint Exhibition with the Mie Prefectural Museum:
"Japan and Mie in the Meiji Era: Dawn of Modern Japan and the Period of the Rokumei-kan Pavilion"
National Archives of Japan has been holding joint exhibitions outside of Tokyo with other archives and museums to show its holdings to a larger number of visitors since 2012. In this exhibition on Meiji era Japan and the Mie Prefecture, its holdings including an Important Cultural Property "Kobun Roku" are displayed. Also shown are Mie Prefectural Government historical materials, which are now held by the Mie Prefectural Museum, the venue of this exhibition.
October 13, 2015
   to March 31, 2016
Special Exhibition :
"120 Years of Relations between Japan and Brazil"
This year marks the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Japan. Relations began October 5, 1895, after the signing of the "Japan-Brazil Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaty". This exhibition, sponsored by the Diplomatic Archives, presents a history of relations between Japan and Brazil through diplomatic resources that resulted from the process of Japanese immigrating to Brazil in the Meiji era and the development of their society in the Taisho and Showa eras.

Thank you for reading the JACAR Newsletter No.19, and we hope you enjoyed it. In this issue's Documents Spotlight, we presented documents on mentaiko, an everyday food in Japan. To make the newsletter an even more useful reference in the future, we would deeply appreciate any comments or feedback on * THIS FORM *.

Please email us if you would be interested in a member of JACAR presenting at your organization about our institution and its resources. We go to schools, research conferences, and a range of other institutions.

Leaflets about JACAR are available in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, so if you would like copies, please contact us.

An email about the JACAR Newsletter has been sent to everyone who requested a copy as well as those who have exchanged business cards with JACAR staff members. If you do not wish to receive future e-mails, please let us know.

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