- Japanese: 蘇鉄 (sotetsu)
Sotetsu, or cycad, is a palm-like plant widespread in the Ryukyu Islands, and long a symbol of the semi-tropical islands prior to the introduction in the mid-to-late 20th century of Hawaiian plants such as hibiscus and palm trees. The fruit of the sotetsu is highly poisonous, but can be rendered edible through extensive boiling, and was eaten as a food of last resort during famines, in the aftermath of destructive typhoons that destroyed food stores, and other such situations. The most infamous instance of this was during the so-called sotetsu jigoku or "cycad hell" in Okinawa prefecture during the Great Depression of the 1920s-30s, which brought with it a severe crash in the sugar market and thus a crash in the Okinawan economy. Prior to that, in the 17th-19th centuries, villagers on the Amami Islands may have relied on sotetsu in this manner more regularly and more deeply than those in the Ryûkyû Kingdom (modern-day Okinawa prefecture), as Kagoshima domain forced Amami islanders to focus intensively on sugar cultivation, to the detriment of maintaining sufficient production of other foods.
- Gerald Figal, "Between War and Tropics: Heritage Tourism in Postwar Okinawa," The Public Historian 30:2 (2008), 93-94.
- Alan Christy, "The Making of Imperial Subjects in Okinawa," positions 1:3 (1993), 611-612.
- Gallery labels, "Sotetsu," Amami Nature and Culture Center, Amami Ôshima.