President of major Okinawa Soba producer plans to make the noodle popular worldwide
September 29, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
A lecture targeted at middle-aged to elderly people with an interest in Okinawa food history was held at Kitanakagusuku Ogusuku community center on September 25. Kenichi Dohi, the president of major Okinawa Soba maker Sun Foods Co., Ltd. and top adviser of the Okinawa Fresh Noodles Cooperative delivered a lecture about Okinawa Soba.
Dohi is from Kumamoto Prefecture. He visited Okinawa before its reversion to Japanese sovereignty, and founded Sun Foods Co. in Naha in 1968.
He told the story of how he opened up a store in the basement of what was the Okinawa Mitsukoshi department store, and how he worked hard to sell noodles year-around. The audience listened to Dohi speak about his work to promote the noodle.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission did not originally allow Okinawa Soba to use the word Soba in its name because the noodle does not contain buckwheat flour. As a member of the cooperative, Dohi made efforts to preserve the name of the noodle.
After many negotiations in Tokyo, in 1978, the cooperative and other organizations managed to get the commission to give permission to use the name Okinawa Soba. Dohi said, “I managed to get government officials to visit Okinawa and taste the noodle. I also went overseas and collected the documents related to the origin of Okinawa Soba.”
While trying to automate the manufacturing of the noodle, Dohi aims to produce and ship 700,000 to 800,000 packets every day.
He plans to represent the cooperative in Expo Milano 2015, which will be held in Italy next May. Do concluded, “Pasta took 400 years to become popular worldwide. We have airplanes now. Within the next 40 years, Okinawa Soba will become popular worldwide.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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