Amami Cuisine

Local Cuisine of Amami

Amami has a variety of traditional cuisine handed down through the generations.  Many dishes have a rustic flavor filled with the scent of the ocean and aroma of the soil.

Pork dishes

Until the 1960s, each household was raising local black pigs as an important source of protein. Whenever such a carefully raised pig was slaughtered, people made sure to utilize every bit of the animal for food and for their livelihood. For example, at the end of a year, a “pork and vegetable” dish was prepared as a part of New Year’s cuisine, and the rest of the pig was preserved in salt and miso for future use.

Sweet simmered pork legs

Clean the pork legs, and drain boilded water few times for the preparation. Simmer with soy sauce, sweet sake, kokuto shochu (Amami brown suger sake), slices of ginger, and others.
Delicious sweet simmered pork legs dish is done.

Keihan (Chicken and rice soup)

A typical local dish for Amami, keihan is beautifully arranged with colorful toppings and has a profound taste. It is said that when Amami was still under the Satsuma Domain (han), this special dish was prepared to entertain government officials in the northern part of Amami (Kasari). A whole chicken would be boiled to make a golden broth. Boiled chicken breasts would be shredded and arranged over a hot bowl of rice topped with thinly stripped egg omelet, mushrooms, papaya, green onions, dried seaweed and hot chicken broth poured over it.

Abura zoumen (Fried somen noodles)

A somen dish arrived in Amami in the Meiji Era and was particularly handy during the busy farming season. Noodles are boiled al dente and later slightly fried with leeks, vegetables and meat and placed in a broth of silver-stripe round herring.


Cook young garlic stems with pork belly and thick atsuage (deep-fried tofu). Add a bit of island granulated sugar and soy sauce for seasoning.

Fish dishes

Locally caught round herring, pearl-spot chromis and parrot fish (that live in the coral reefs) can be deep fried, salted and fried, or made into fish soup or fish miso.


Transparent and beautifully-shape bigfin reef squids have very tender and sweet flesh. Mada soup, which is made of squid ink, has a profound rich taste and is also sweet and mellow. It was once used as a medicine to lower blood pressure. Giant broadclub cuttlefish also have an exquisite taste.


Kanoko lobster (long-legged spiny lobster) and Shima lobster (island lobster) can be caught by skin-diving fishing at night. Very popular as sashimi and made into miso soup.

Photo and captions / HORIZON Editorial Office

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