Okinawa is the southernmost island of Japan and is a prefecture with unique culture and traditions, much different from the mainland. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this region so special!
Okinawan food is a mixture of Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and some East Asian cuisines. Soki soba（ソーキそば）, stewed pork rib with noodles, ashitebichi (足てびち), pig trotters braised in dark sauce, and yagijiru (山羊汁) goat soup, all have Taiwanese origins. Chanpuru (チャンプルー), a style of stir fry, is similar to Chinese cooking. Goya, a common ingredient used for chanpuru, is known as bitter gourd in South East Asia, and is touted to be one of the reasons for the longevity of Okinawan people! Little chillis soaked in awamori, the locally made spirit, is a special condiment best coupled with Okinawan flat noodle soba. Another staple, taco filling on rice (taco rice タコライス), was assumedly brought over by the Americans. They still have a significant presence in Okinawa, as seen by the abundance of Blue Seal ice cream stores!
Snacks like chinsuko (ちんすこう), salt cookie shortbread, benimo (紅いも), sweet potato tart, black sugar candy, as well as dried spicy pig ears called mimiga (ミミガー) are also available as gifts to bring home with you!
Special mention goes to Shiquasa (シークワーサー), lime that can only be found in Okinawa, it has a tangy refreshing zing to it. It is used for popsicle and soda flavours, and sometimes even as flavour for potato chips!
The Ryukyu Kingdom people were indigenous to the land before the Japanese annexed and named it Okinawa. They distilled an alcohol known as awamori (泡盛) which was and is still very popular there now. There are also specialty spirits such as snake sake, habushu (ハブ酒). The alcohols vary in potency and price depending on the age. Also, most Naha liquor stores offer free nationwide delivery!
— twintrival (@twintrival) 2017年6月15日
Okinawa is also known for Orion beer. It may be found in convenience stores throughout Japan, and restaurants or pubs often hang red lanterns with the word “Orion” on them in front of the entrance. Last, but not least, sanpincha (三品茶) is a type of jasmine tea rich in antioxidants that is most favoured by Okinawans. This is also another secret to their longevity and good health!