Deep beneath the subtropical paradise of Miyako Island, a seasoning treasure awaits discovery. Yukishio, a powdery, snow-white salt, is harvested from the clear blue waters of this island in Okinawa Prefecture. There you can bask in the beauty of one of Japan’s southernmost islands, and at the Yukishio Museum, learn how this unique salt is manufactured and delight in products that harness its special qualities.
Located southwest of mainland Okinawa, Miyako Island is a gem that rises from sapphire and turquoise seas, considered to be some of Japan’s clearest waters. Explore the island and its salt, both of which are anything but common.
Welcome to Paradise!
Processed from water drawn from deep beneath this limestone island, yukishio is well known across Japan for its texture. Add a museum tour to your island itinerary, and discover the charms of this famed salt, including its delicate aroma.
Discover the Characteristics of Miyako Island’s Special Salt on a Guided Tour
Journey to the north end of Miyako Island, where you can view neighboring Ikema Island rising from the turquoise water, and join a free guided tour of the museum and the manufacturing facility. The approximately fifteen-minute tour begins outdoors in the verdant splendor of the island.
“Miyako Island,” says Mr. Ogawa, one of the museum’s guides, “is a coral reef protuberance made up of Ryukyu limestone. Seawater is pumped up from approximately twenty-two meters below our facility and thus contains abundant amounts of dissolved Ryukyu limestone. These unique conditions make for a unique salt.”
The limestone, with its many small cavities, acts as a natural filtration system, which removes impurities from the seawater. Indeed, the salt sourced from beneath Miyako Island is as pure as the freshly fallen snow it resembles.
“Common salt is made by boiling down seawater until only the salt remains,” explains Mr. Ogawa. “In this process, the bitterns are also lost. With yukishio, however, salt is produced by evaporating seawater on a metal plate. The result is a mellow salt in which the bitterns remain.”
Yukishio is available in both granular and powdery varieties. The grains of the powder type of yukishio, produced using an instant-evaporation method that’s part of a patented manufacturing process, are just 96 micrometers in diameter (on average), compared to 200 to 400 micrometers for the grains of common salt.
The fineness of the powder makes it particularly suited for use in food, because yukishio dissolves easily, sticks to food well, and is readily absorbed. These characteristics make it the perfect seasoning for a variety of foods, including meats, soups, rice balls, and bread.
Indulge in a Salty, Sweet Warm-Weather Treat
Cap off your day the right way with a cone of yukishio soft-serve ice cream. Not only does the ice cream benefit from a delightful depth of flavor thanks to its subtle saltiness, it also delivers a refreshing aftertaste. Although delicious by itself, sprinkle awase-shio toppings on your ice cream for an added burst of flavor.
Choose from twelve flavors, including matcha (green tea) salt, togarashi (chili pepper) salt, cocoa salt, wasabi (Japanese horseradish) salt, and yuzu (citrus fruit) salt.
Not Just a Seasoning
The uses of yukishio extend far beyond the culinary arts. Visit the museum shop to find a wide variety of products containing yukishio— such as sweets, beverages, and seasonings. You can also find reusable bags and T-shirts bearing images representing the famous salt.
Yukishio adds zest to the museum shop’s baumkuchen (German spit cake) and chinsuko (Okinawa biscuit).
According to shop staff, yukishio also makes an excellent addition to your skin-care regimen. In fact, yukishio is good for scalp care, as well as for treating canker sores and insect bites.
Create an at-home spa treatment by mixing fine-grained yukishio from the Home Spa line with a base such as yogurt or olive oil. Massage it into your skin, and enjoy the benefits of mineral-rich sea salt long after you have left the island.
Relax with Shio Pan at the Museum Café
The museum’s café is the perfect place to pause for a rest. Enjoy freshly baked shio pan, a popular salted butter bread, while contemplating your newly acquired knowledge of the salt-making process.
Miyako Island, blessed with stunning blue waters and white-sand beaches, is home to a trove of natural treasures. Revel in the island’s subtropical splendor, and season your stay with the mellow flavor of yukishio.