The season of urizun in Okinawa is the time of year between Spring and the rainy season; approximately in April (third month of the lunar calendar). It means “early summer.” It is just cool enough out, before the summer heat comes but after the winter chill has left. Urizun season is named after the urizun bean, which is a light green color, reminiscent of the fresh green sprouting leaves of spring.
The shell ginger plant, さんにん sannin in Okinawan and 月桃 gettou in Japanese, is very much a symbol of urizun. Perhaps because this is the time of year it blooms and you can see the beautiful flowers. The 2nd day of the 3rd month in the lunar calendar is sannin-no-hi サンニンの日, Sannin day. This is because “san” is 3 and “ni” is 2 in Japanese; together this san-ni sounds close to the word sannin. Sannin is also used in Okinawa sweets such as muuchii.
I visited a Japanese soba restaurant in Naha (not far from Kokusai-dori), called Minosaku 美濃作 that serves noodles made from sannin. So very delicious. I talked to the owner’s wife in Japanese, and she was so happy she gave me a postcard she designed for the shop. Now, I always crave their noodles during the spring to summer transition…
Minosaku 美濃作 address: 3 Chome-8-2 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0015