Heat up your summer with “Okinawa southern chilies,” now in peak harvest season!

Heat up your summer with “Okinawa southern chilies,” now in peak harvest season!

Hitoshi Sunagawa carefully picking red chili peppers by hand, one by one – June 11, Toyama Tamagusuku, Nanjo (Photograph by Hiroyuki Takatsuji)

June 12, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


Packed with capsaicin and vitamin C, chili peppers are known to be effective in combating summer heat fatigue. Forty-eight-year-old Hitoshi Sunagawa’s greenhouse in Toyama Tamagusuku, Nanjo is colored with the reds and greens of chili peppers from around 600 plants as they enter their peak harvesting season. On June 11 he got to work picking peppers, including one that had grown to 10 centimeters.

The chili peppers Sunagawa raises grow to about twice the size of regular chili peppers. Called “Okinawa southern chilies,” the new Okinawan product has been gaining attention. “I want people who have suffered from a lack of exercise due to the coronavirus pandemic, and for people stuck at home to try food cooked with these chilies, and for it to give them some power,” he said, noting the chilies’ ability to make customers sweat as he happily picked peppers.

According to Sunagawa, harvesting on a rainy day leaves his hands tingling and warm. “When my fingertips heat up from the spiciness of the chilies, that’s when I know I’ve grown some good peppers.” It makes for some “hot” work in the summer greenhouse. Sunagawa is predicting a harvest this year of around two tons of peppers.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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