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Kikunae Ikeda Sodium Glutamate

(Prepared by Pubulic Relations Section Genneral Affairs Division)

Sodium Glutamate was invented in 1908 by Dr. Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University based on research for the purpose of commercializing as seasoning the component of kombu (a type of seaweed) that produces its good taste.

Taking a hint from the taste of kombu, Dr. Ikeda thought that a flavor other than sweet, sour, salty and spicy existed and proceeded to ascertain its original form. This flavor is called "umai" in Japanese and is best translated as "delicious." His experiments resulted in the discovery that the "delicious" flavor of kombu comes from monosodium glutamate, and Dr. Ikeda invented a method of obtaining crystalline monosodium glutamate, the flavor in its purest form.

Commercial production of this monosodium glutamate was carried out by Saburosuke Suzuki, the founder of Ajinomoto Co., Inc., under request from Kikunae Ikeda. Dr. Ikeda's invention, sold under the Ajinomoto name, has become popular as a seasoning not only in Japan, but worldwide.

Ajinomoto products from the 1920's

Ajinomoto products from the 1920's

(Photo: Ajinomoto Co., Inc.)

Linked from [Ten Japanese Great Inventors]

[Last updated 7 October 2002]