Monday, February 7, 2011


Do you love drinking? Are you looking for a tasty souvenir from Okinawa? I will introduce awamori this month.
You may recall “sake” when you are asked about Japanese alcoholic beverages, but in Okinawa, we have awamori, Japan’s oldest distilled liquor. One big difference between sake, refined Japanese rice wine, and awamori is the production process. Sake is classified as distilled liquor, while awamori as brewed beverage. Sake is made using yellow koji mold, and awamori is made using black koji mold of Okinawan origin. The black koji mold contains a large amount of citric acid with bacteria that do not spoil easily even in the hot and humid subtropical climate of Okinawa. Another difference is the rice. Awamori is made from long-grained indica rice while sake is from short-grained rice.

There are 46 awamori distillers in Okinawa and all types of awamori are made using black koji and the same ingredients and production method, but interestingly, the taste is totally different from one distillery to another! It is said the water used to produce the awamori makes the difference.

You can enjoy awamori on the rocks or with water as many Okinawans do. Another great way to savor awamori is cocktails! Awamori can be a good cocktail base just like gin, vodka, etc. Recently, various flavored awamori have also become available, such as coffee and ume plum. Awamori that has been aged for three years or more is called kusu in the Okinawan dialect. The older the awamori, the richer the taste and flavor it has.

 In addition, awamori plays an important part in cooking pork, one of the main foods for Okinawans. It gets rid of the distinctive smell of the meat and makes it tender. I bet you cannot find a family in Okinawa without a bottle of awamori at home.
Anyway, one of the good shops to find awamori of your taste is Okinawa-ya Awamorigura on Kokusai Street. They have a wide selection of awamori from almost all awamori distillers in Okinawa Prefecture including the remote islands. You can sample some of them (if you are not driving, of course). Why not try the fascinating local liquor and feel the Okinawan spirit?

Okinawa-ya Awamori-gura
2-8-5 Matsuo Naha
Hours: 9:30-22:30
Tel: 098-868-5252