Sugar Cane: Okinawa’s Famous Produce
If we say ‘a noise that sounds Okinawan’, what do you think of?
The notes of a shamisen? The drums and shouts of an eisa dance? Waves crashing on the beach? Or even the sound of whistles made through one’s fingers?
These are all typical Okinawan sounds, but the one sound that visitors must hear while on their travels is the sound of the sugar cane leaves swaying in the wind.
In comparison to long ago, the number of sugar cane farms has gone down, but if you rent a car and go out to the suburbs, you will definitely be able to find some fields.
Just follow the road to your next destination and after 10 minutes, stop the car and listen for a short while.
In a breeze, the sugarcane will murmur softly, but in a strong wind like a typhoon, this becomes much louder.
If the field is close to the sea, you might be able to hear these sounds together with the waves.
Known as ‘uuji’ in Okinawan dialect, sugarcane is the largest cultivated crop within the region.
The crop flourishes particularly well in the south-central part of the main island, as well as seven individual islands (Tarama, Kohama, Iriomote, Hateruma, Yonaguni, Iheya and Aguni Island).
As it gets colder, growth slows down and sugar content in the stem increases. This means that the harvest season is from December to April.
When the plant flowers, this is a sign that it is ready for harvesting.
Although brown sugar is a local speciality, sugarcane juice is also popular at places such as service stations.
It is also common for children in Okinawa to eat raw sugarcane as a snack.
If you have chance, please try it.