Major Events Connected with Awamori and Shochu

Year

Major Events Connected with Awamori and Shochu

1462Cho Duk-sung and other Koreans drift ashore in Ryukyu. They note that the storage at the castle in Naha port contains liquor that has been aged for more than 3 years. ('Korean Yi Dynasty Records')
1477Kim Bi-ui and others from Cheju Island in Korea drift ashore on Yonaguni Island. They mention that in Naha there are refined and unrefined liquors and a Southeast Asian liquor. ('Korean Yi Dynasty Records')
1515Ryukyuan shochu is presented to the Shimazu family, along with Chinese and Southeast Asian liquors.
1534The Chinese envoy Chen Kan observes that the liquor that was served was clear and strong, and came from Siam. ('Records of Envoys to Ryukyu')
1578Ryukyuan emissaries present distilled Chinese liquor, aged liquor, and shochu to the Shimazu family.
1610Ryukyuan shochu is presented to the Tokugawa Shogunate.
1612Shimazu Iehisa submits two pots of Ryukyuan liquor to the Tokugawa Shogunate.('True Records of the Tokugawa, Records of the Sunpu')
1634Shimazu Iehisa, accompanied by the King of Chuzan, presents five jars of Ryukyuan shochu to the Tokugawa Shogunate.. ('True Records of the Tokugawa, Kira Diary')
1645The King of Chuzan sends three pots of shochu to the Tokugawa Shogunate through Shimaze Iehisa. ('True Records of the Tokugawa, Kira Diary')
1667Haneji Choshu warns that those who drink excessively at annual festivals and funerals will be apprehended. ('Haneji's Admonitions', by Haneji Choshu)
1671For the first time, Ryukyuan liquor is entered as awamori in the records enumerating the gifts sent to the Tokugawa Shogunate.
1684-88An awamori shortage occurs, and shochu from the Satsuma domain is mixed with the Ryukyuan liquor.('Meiryo Kohan')
1719Arai Hakuseki publishes 'Southeast Records', a book on how to make awamori.
1733A repository for the king's stock of awamori is established at Shuri Castle.
1876Awamori-making is liberalized: Anyone who can afford to pay the licensing fee is allowed to make awamori.
1888A liquor tax law is promulgated for the first time in Okinawa Prefecture. All awamori produced and consumed within the prefecture is tax exempt, but a shipping tax is imposed on all awamori shipped out of Okinawa.
1908A Distillery tax is put into force, the beginning of taxation in Okinawa. The Awamori Distillers Association is established, but it is dissolved almost immediately.
* Bankruptcies occur one after another in the awamori industry in the 1910s and 1920s.
1928The Okinawa Awamori Distillers League is established.
1932Taizo Yoshimura arrives at his post as Director of the Naha Tax Office.
1933The Distillers' Cooperative is organized.
* The awamori industry comes back to life.
1940The government limits the import of foreign rice.
1941Under the policies of the government, the Okinawa Liquor Sales Company is established.
1943An awamori factory is established in Burma (now Myanmar) at the request of the Japanese Department of the Japanese Army.
1945Bootleg awamori becomes rampant throughout Okinawa.
1947Establishment of five state-operated factories under the direct supervision of the Finance Department of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands. The beginning of postwar awamori production.
1949State-operated factories come under private management.
1950The Ryukyu Awamori Makers League is established.
1958The Ryukyu Awamori Makers League receives official authorization.
* Because of the mushrooming number of distilleries and dumping practices, the awamori industry faces recession around this time.
1962The 'cap seal system' is put into effect to prevent a price war.
1972The League's name is changed to the Okinawa Awamori Makers League.
1976The Okinawa Distillers Mutual Association is organized.
1979The Appraising Division of the Okinawa National Tax Office successfully develops Awamori Yeast No.1.
1980* Awamori begins to enjoy a boom period within Okinawa Prefecture.
1983The title 'Authentic Ryukyuan Awamori' is officially approved.
1986The Awamori Museum is established in Ishigaki City on Yaeyama Island.
1990The birth of' Awamori Hall' in Oroku, Naha, which exhibits all the available brands of awamori (Oroku, Naha)
1991The Research Center for Distillation under the jurisdiction of the Okinawa Distillers Mutual Association establishes a storehouse for unrefined awamori.
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Distillery techniques were first developed in the Mesopotamian Civilization around 3500 B.C. Distilled liquor was spread both westward and eastward by the Greek philosopher Aristotle .
 There are four theories regarding the origin of the name 'awamori.' The first theory concerns the main ingredient. Although Thai rice is used today, millet was once widely cultivated, even in Okinawa, and it was used to produce awamori. Millet is called 'awa' in Japanese and 'awa-mori' literally means 'a heap of millet'.
Traditional Distillery machines
The World of the Awamori Industry