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Orion Beer


Photo: KANO Tatsuhiko

Beer produced in Okinawa. It owns a one and only brewery in Okinawa and is the originator of local beers in Japan. Somehow you feel like drinking this in Okinawa. Also called, with affection, Nagunumijigwā (Nago’s Water), given that its brewery is located in Nago; a fact that made me an absolute fan of this brand. Recently, I hear that this name is getting increasingly obscure to younger people.
 It felt somewhat unsatisfying when I first tasted it, although I became its lover since I got used to it as I kept drinking it. While 4 mainland Japan breweries have expanded into Okinawa, Orion Breweries has won 80% of the share in the prefecture at its most, keeping it around 50% even now; quite praiseworthy. Maybe because it is closely related to the locality. Orion Breweries has actively participated in all kinds of events in Okinawa. The Orion Beer Fest1 organized every year in July in Koza can be said to be now a seasonal feature representing the summer in Okinawa. It is said that 300,000 people which is about a fourth of the prefectural population of 1,200,000 pours in during the two days. Folk songs, rock, theatres, skits, and more are staged, where people of all ages get high to the utmost.

Orion Beer was established in 1957 and production started in 1959. The company also managed to survive the economic groupings of mainland companies during Okinawa’s Reversion to Japan2. “Bīru ya arin kurin aibīshiga, mimi tako yori shima dako.” There are beers this and that, but better the local octopus than the octopus you hear a lot about: a commercial in Uchināguchi3, which makes me want to drink it again.

Editor’s Note:

  1. The Fest has been canceled since the Covid-19 pandemic but restarted in 2023.
  2. In 2002, a comprehensive partnership was formed with the Asahi Breweries, Ltd.
  3. Okinawan dialect.