Okinawan Beni-imo (purple sweet potato) is also famous in Japan, but did you know that it originally came from China? It is said that the Ryukyu Kingdom's Noguni Soukan had brought back Beni-imo plants from Fujian Province in 1605, and it was later widely spread through the country. Okinawa soil was well drained and unsuitable for rice cultivation, but Beni-imo was resistant to typhoons and droughts, and it well adapted to Okinawa's climate. Beni-imo supplemented food during bad harvests of rice and wheat helping the Ryukyuan people escape from hunger, and gradually became popular.
Beni-imo has high nutritional value, contains anthocyan pigments, and has excellent antioxidant effects preventing aging, and it is said to have an effect of preventing arteriosclerosis. Furthermore, it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, so it can be said that it is an excellent ingredient for both beauty and health.
In Okinawa, there are a lot of Beni-imo related products. In addition to the famous Beni-imo tarts, there are Beni-imo chips, Beni-imo chinsuko cookies, Beni-imo cakes, and so on. There is also Beni-imo sake. Each product is very unique and we hope you can try some of them. Beni-imo products are the must buy souvenirs from Okinawa!
* Please note that raw Beni-imo cannot be taken out from Okinawa.
These are some souvenirs made from Beni-imo.
1. Original Beni-imo tart (Okashigoten)
It is a very popular souvenir. It is made of 100% Okinawan Beni-imo and contains no preservatives or colorings. Gentle sweetness and soft texture can be deliciously enjoyed by children to elderly.
2. Okinawan Beni-imo Chips (Okinawa Tokusan Hanbai Co., Ltd)
It is made by low-temperature vacuum frying which allows the ingredient keeps its color, taste and flavor. It is crispy and slightly sweet, and can be eaten as a snack, or as food to strengthen children's teeth.
3. Beni-imo Matsuri (Nampo Co., Ltd.)
This product was selected for 2019 Okinawa Prefecture recommended excellent goods. It is an assortment of 7 kinds of Beni-imo products such as Beni-imo tart, Beni-imo cake, Beni-imo chinsuko cookies, and so on. You can enjoy different type of Beni-imo flavors in one box.
“Imuge,” a potato liquor commonly consumed by the common people in the age of Ryukyu Kingdom, had disappeared for almost a hundred years, but recently, Awamori distilleries in Okinawa have revived its production.
Kumejima’s Kumesen IMUGE. 25 % (Kumejima’s Kumesen Co., Ltd.)
SEIFUKU IMUGE. 25% (Seifuku Distillery Co., Ltd.)
5. Okinawan Beni-imo Plum Wine（Shinzato-Shuzo Co., Ltd.）
Made by adding Okinawan Beni-imo to Awamori plum wine, it has a delicate taste and the natural sweetness of its ingredient can be savored. It is especially popular among women.