Traditional Cuisine of the Ryukyu Islands
A History of Health and Healing
Translated by Deborah Iwabuchi and Enda Kazuko
Published Titles / Culture
Published by JPIC | 978-4-86658-131-6 (Hardcover) | 144 pages, full color | 210mm (h) x 148mm (w) | March 2020
About the Book
In recent decades, Okinawan cuisine has earned a place in the Japanese food scene due to its healthy diet. The recipes are the results of wisdom passed down through generations on the southern islands. Little is known, however, that their roots can be traced back to a nineteenth century guidebook on diet therapy which was written by a renowned doctor.
Tokashiki Pechin Tsukan was the chief physician to the king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, as the islands were known for five centuries before they became Okinawa. Tsukan penned Gozen honzo in 1832, which can be directly translated as “medicinal foods placed on a tray and served to the king.” From grains and vegetables to meat and fish, he took up 300 traditional Ryukyu foodstuffs, explaining their medicinal effects, the preparations required, and their effective combinations.
This modern version of the Gozen honzo unveils the knowledge it contains, covering 60 ingredients and 70 recipes from the text to reproduce the various delicacies. The exceptional pictures radiate the richness of the dishes, and the additional commentary on culture provides deep insight into how people lived on the islands. This reading experience will lead you to understand that the Okinawan saying “food is kusuimun (medicine)” is truly so.
About the Author
Takagi Rin was born in downtown Tokyo in 1947. She is an acclaimed screenwriter for television and radio dramas, and her works have received many prizes, among them the Grand Prix for the prestigious Galaxy Award.
Her strong connection with Okinawa began when she was recuperating from a severe illness. On visiting the islands and mingling with the locals, she became deeply attracted to its people, culture, and especially the food. This soon developed into a passion that led to a new dimension in her life—she opened a traditional Okinawan restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo in 1998. Her interest did not cease there, for she went on to write about the various aspects of Okinawa. The biography of a legendary figure, Okinawa dokuritsu o yume mita densetsu no joketsu Teruya Toshiko (Teruya Toshiko, the brave woman who dreamed of an independent Okinawa), won the fourteenth Shogakukan Nonfiction Grand Prize.