NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. - A town assembly in Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday unanimously adopted a directive to promote toasting with awamori, a rice-based distilled spirit, as part of efforts to revitalize the local economy.
The “ordinance” implemented by the municipal assembly of Yonabaru is the first in the country for awamori, according to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association.
Similar moves to promote sake and shōchū alcoholic beverages during toasting have been introduced by local governments in many parts of Japan.
Awamori, produced in Okinawa, is regarded as Japan’s oldest distilled spirit, dating back around 600 years.
Yonabaru’s efforts to encourage drinking of awamori, incorporated into the municipal code, points out that the number of awamori distilleries has declined sharply and shipments of the spirit have been falling since peaking in 2004.
It also calls on local residents and related business operators to cooperate in supporting consumption of the spirit.
As of Monday, a total of 144 “kanpai ordinances” had been passed, according to the association, with Kyoto implementing the first one for sake in 2013.