The Tsukayama Shuzosho “awamori” plant, which survived the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and is designated an important cultural property, has been restored in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. (Video by Hiroki Ito)

NAGO, Okinawa Prefecture--A 90-year-old “awamori” rice spirit plant here that survived the 1945 Battle of Okinawa has finally regained its prewar luster after a seven-year restoration program.

The Tsukayama Shuzosho distillery, which opened in 1928, was restored at a cost of 420 million yen ($3.78 million). Some parts of the wooden building have been renovated to recreate its original appearance.

As the only awamori plant in the prefecture that was built before World War II and is still producing the Okinawan specialty, Tsukayama Shuzosho is designated an important cultural property by the central government.

When the U.S. military invaded Okinawa's main island in April 1945, homes and buildings in central Nago were destroyed by flame-throwers. Tsukayama Shuzosho, seized by the U.S. military, is said to have been used as an office and bread factory.

The words “Officers Quarters” can still be found on a pillar along its corridor linking the main residential section of the facility with the detached housing area.

Hayashi Kishimoto, 62, who heads a group that called on the central government to preserve the distillery, describes it as a “place where the postwar history of Nago started.”

He said the facility used to be jam-packed with Okinawans who sought refuge there after losing their homes.

Kishimoto now dreams of using the restored distillery as an official guest house because it features elements representing cultures of Okinawa, Japan's mainland and the United States.

Tsukayama Shuzosho is made up of a one-story building on 2,000 square meters of land that houses the plant, main residential section for workers and detached housing area.

Available in the main residential section are traditional Okinawa-style guest rooms. The detached housing area features “shoin-zukuri” design of the Japanese mainland.

During its peak period before the war, Tsukayama Shuzosho is said to have produced 88,000 liters of Kokka awamori annually.

The distillery restarted operations around 1949 after the end of the war. It suspended production for eight years from 1982, but two workers are now making awamori there.

Its annual production is only 10,000 liters, a level comparable to the amount that a major Okinawan producer makes in several days.

But Koyu Koki, 59, manager of the plant, said he wants to “continue producing awamori here while respecting traditional manual techniques.”

Tsukayama Shuzosho received its designation as an important cultural property in 2009, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs began its restoration in 2011.