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Kikunae Ikeda (October 8, 1864 – May 3, 1936) was born in the first year of the Genji Era in Kyoto. In year 22 of the Meiji Era, he graduated from the Science Faculty of the Tokyo Imperial University, and from year 32 of the Meiji Era he spent two years as an exchange student abroad in Germany.
After his return back to Japan, he was employed as a professor by the Tokyo Imperial University. He discovered that the common component that produced the flavour of meat, seaweed and tomatoes was glutamate, which produces the sensation of umami.
Even after retiring from the Tokyo Imperial University in year 12 of the Taisho Era, Kikunae Ikeda continued his passionate research of methods aimed at completing the technology to manufacture sodium glutamate which is produced mainly from the sugar beat waste liquor which can be used as a raw material for manufacturing sodium glutamate. He died in year 11 of the Showa Era.
Discovery of monosodium glutamate (msg) Edit
Kikunae Ikeda was engaged in special research activities at the Physics Faculty. He tried to create more interest in applied research which would be linked directly to social progress and to an improved standard of living for Japanese people, which among other things motivated his research of the deliciousness of seaweed called konbu in Japanese. Because he thought that it should be possible to come to an understanding of the condiment representing the component which makes konbu so delicious in order to manufacture it for industrial purposes, he pursued his research of this subject and the result of his research activities was the discovery that this component is sodium glutamate (monosodium glutamate).He obtained the patent rights to the manufacture of sodium glutamate (patent number 14805, year 41 of the Meiji Era).
Kikunae Ikeda and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. Edit
With help from Ikeda, Saburosuke and Chuji Suzuki—two brothers who had been extracting iodine from seaweed since 1890—formed Ajinomoto Company to produce the monosodium glutamate commercially. They began marketing it in 1909 as "Aji-no-moto," which translates literally as "essence of taste."