Awamori promoted for registration in the World’s Cultural Heritage list

Awamori promoted for registration in the World's Cultural Heritage list

On August 4 at the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, President Katsunobu Shingaki of the Awamori Meister Association announced the inauguration of a preparatory committee for registering Awamori into the World Cultural Heritage list.

August 5, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 4, the Awamori Meister Association launched a preparatory committee to promote the inscribing of Awamori, which is made of Aspergillus luchuensis, to the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Following Japanese cuisine, which was listed on the World Heritage list last year, the Association focuses on registration of Okinawan food culture. Takeo Koizumi, emeritus professor of Tokyo Agricultural University, served as a committee member for registering Japanese cuisine and he is one of Awamori promoters. He said, “Okinawa is the only place in the world that uses Aspergillus luchuensis for food. Calling for cooperation from Okinawans, we hope Awamori will be inscribed on the list.”

The committee held a press conference on August 4. Masaaki Yasuda, professor emeritus at the University of the Ryukyus, will serve as a committee chairperson. The head of the association Masaru Arakaki said, “Aspergillus luchuensis is a treasure of Okinawa. It is used not only for Awamori, but also for food. I hope Okinawans can work together to register Awamori to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.” Misako Tamanaha, a chairperson of the Brewers Association of Okinawa, said, “Awamori production techniques, which use Aspergillus luchuensis, have been developed while keeping traditional techniques. Registration on the list will promote Awamori to the world.”

At the press conference, Koizumi said, “Aspergillusluchuensis, which has a history of more than 400 years, is rooted in Okinawan food culture. I have been expecting that Aspergillus luchuensis will be the next one to be registered after Japanes” uisine.” Koizumi also lectured at the workshop for local municipality assembly members. He stressed, “We need cooperation from residents and local governments. Registration as part of World Heritage will create positive economic effects.”

At the end of May on the 10th anniversary of the association, Koizumi declared his intention to register Awamori to the list. Secretary-General Masayasu Kawai of the Okinawa General Bureau and Okinawa Vice Governor Yoshihisa Kawakami will serve as emeritus members of a preparatory committee. On September 18, the first committee meeting will be held. On November 30, the committee will hold the first symposium, and file a request to the Okinawan governor. They will then call for cooperation from the Japanese government and related institutions.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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