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History of developments of natto

Jomon Man (Ancient Japanese) Knew Taste of Natto

When did Japanese people start eating natto?
It is one of the mysteries of history, but some say that natto-like food already existed around the end of Jomon period when the cultivation method of rice plants came from the mainland China.

The recognition of “natto” - which we ordinarily eat nowadays - and its name did not seem to exist yet; nonetheless, Jomon man was likely to have eaten the strange sticky beans.  
The Jomon period lasted almost 10,000 years from about 12, 000 years ago to 2,300 years ago from now. Their staple foods were thought to be nuts (such as Chestnuts, conkers, walnuts, and acorns), coarse cereals (including millets, Japanese barnyard millets), and tubers (such as yams, Chinese yams and eddoe). If we calculate their calorie intake, including other things such as fish, mountain vegetables, and mushrooms, they took 80% of their foods from plans.

Like tororo jiru yam soup, the sticky paste makes the delicious taste of natto, the fermented soybean food. For Jomon man who had the experience of eating raw yams by grating them, sticky natto might be something they could east without too much resistance.

As if following the rice, around the end of the Jomon period, soybeans were thought to have come from the mainland China. As there are about 10 million natto yeasts in the form of spores attached to one Japanese rice straw, it is highly likely that we can make boiled beans sticky by stuffing them in the container “Ho” made by bundling straws.
”Ho” is regarded as the natto container now, but in the ancient times it was used daily as an all-purpose container to store food etc. As the scientific name of natto “Bacillus natto” shows, it is one of bacillus subtilis, and therefore, it exists not only in the hay but also anywhere all over Japan - in the soil, in the stubbles, and in the air.
Given that Jomon man had vertical caves housing which was a kind of “fermentation room” and they lived with the rice straws on the floor, the possibility of natto’s emergence was pretty high.