PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: Goya Company - Delivering Smiles Through Ishigaki Island's Taste And Music
Goya Company was founded by Makoto Iramina, a musician and entrepreneur who's as passionate about music as he is about producing true island flavors from Okinawa.
Makoto was born in 1967 on Ishigaki Island, one the tropical islands of Okinawa, located in the southernmost part of Japan, at a time when the island was still under American rule. His love for music started at an early age and by the time he was in high he was already part of an 80s cover band group.
After spending four years away at university in Fukuoka, he returned to Ishigaki where he spent his days farming melons and watermelons and his nights performing for live audiences. He ended up entering and coming in as a runner-up in a vocal audition of 12,000 people, sponsored by Sony Records Grand Prix. He then decided to move to Tokyo to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician.
While in Tokyo, Makoto opened a restaurant which specialized in "Yaeyama Soba", a unique type of soba from Yeayama Islands in Okinawa, located in southwestern most part of Japan, closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan. He would attract customers to his restaurant by signing on the streets out front and ultimately released six single and an album.
His love for his hometown brought him back to Ishigaki, where he founded Goya Company, named after the bitter melon that is famous in Okinawa (it looks like a spiny cucumber and true to its name, is extremely bitter when eaten raw). The company produces a variety of island spices and seasonings using local ingredients. Two of these products were featured in our Okinawan inspired Care Packages:
Raw Ponzu Umami Dashi, a versatile citrus sauce that can be described as a mix between a light soy sauce and a vinaigrette. This ponzu combines Moromi black vinegar from Ishigaki Island with mackerel, shiitake mushrooms and kombu to give it a true island umami taste.
And Okinawan Pepper, a rare domestic pepper (similar to the Balinese long pepper or Javanese long pepper) that tastes like a mix between white pepper and cinnamon.
Makoto continues to pursue his love of music while working as a radio personality in Okinawa. You can hear more of his music at http://go-ya.asia/go-ya_music.html and learn more about his company and their Okinawan specialty products at http://go-ya.asia/index.html