50 Years On: "Awamori" Evolved to People's Drink after Struggle

Society

Naha, Okinawa Pref., April 6 (Jiji Press)--"Awamori" distilled spirits have become a signature specialty of Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, thanks to local producers' hard work to improve the manufacturing method for and taste of the liquor.

After Okinawa's May 1972 return to Japan following post-World War II occupation by the United States, there was a time when the existence of awamori was at risk due to intensifying competition with Japanese sake and Western liquors.

"It had been said that awamori could not survive once Okinawa returns to Japan," Takeshi Sakumoto, a 78-year-old official at Zuisen Distillery Co., based in the Okinawa capital of Naha, recalled.

Half a century ago, it was a golden age for whisky from abroad in entertainment districts in Okinawa.

Suguru Tsujino, 75, who has been running Yunangi, an Okinawa cuisine restaurant in Naha, since 1970, said, "Customers used to say awamori is a liquor drunk at home and not a drink to pay for at bars or restaurants." Awamori at the time "only had a strong smell," according to Tsujino.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press