Industry Product Fairs: 産業祭り

産業 sangyou: industry

祭り matsuri, フェスタ festa, フェスティバル festival, フェア fair, カーニバル carnival: all words used for a fair, festival or exhibition of some sort.

In Okinawa, each town or city has its own local industry product fair, usually occurring once a year or once every 2 years. This is an opportunity for local producers, farmers, and businesses to showcase their wares. Some of these are large events and some are a bit smaller, depending on the size of the town. Usually there are all sorts of free samples, demonstrations, entertainment and specialty food booths.

The Okinawa city industry fair is a really good fair and one of the largest, held at the Comprehensive Park (2017 date: January 28-29). Lots of vendors selling local foods, flower exhibits, farm produce, and more. Since it is once of the largest fairs, it is nice to enjoy all the different things it has to offer.

The Nishihara town (the town just south to my village) industry fair is much smaller, but it showcases sugarcane (サトウキビ satoukibi) and brown sugar (黒糖 kokutou)! The ojiisans set up early in their tents, press the sugarcane juice and then start boiling. At some point it turns into tasty brown sugar and they give out lots of samples. It is really interesting to be able to taste the subtle differences between each one.

If you live in Okinawa, check your community for these types of fun food events! I enjoy attending these and seeing what each town has to offer; I always end up bringing home all sorts of tasty treats.

Ryukyuan Cuisine: 琉球料理

琉球料理 ryuukyuu ryouri means Ryukyuan cuisine.

The other day, I was idling away some time at the university library, when I came upon the “Okinawa Section.” Most books were in Japanese, but one in English caught my eye. It was simply titled, “Ryukyuan Cuisine.” So out of curiosity I flipped it open, and read about some of the more traditional dishes (some pictures below). While there were no actual recipes, there were several descriptions of the foods and the types of local ingredients– it was really quite informative. This book was published in the 90s by the Okinawa Tourism and Cultural Promotion organization. I would like to find a copy for myself, but it has turned out difficult to find. It further inspired me to check out the local bookstore, and peruse some magazines and books on Ryukyuan cuisine (in Japanese, so I am a bit slower to read). Reading through these books really reminded me how Ryukyuan cuisine is quite different than traditional Japanese cuisine; it is definitely influenced quite a bit from Chinese cuisine, but still very unique.

I made a quick guide to Okinawa dishes here and a guide to some traditional sweets here and here.

Here is some info on Okinawa produce here.



Okinawa Saien Buffet Karakara: 沖縄菜園ブッフェカラカラ

In Tomigusuku, in the Ashibinaa outlet Mall located next to the Starbucks and the Bikkuri Donkey, there is an excellent Okinawa local and fresh foods buffet called 沖縄菜園ブッフェカラカラ Okinawa Saien Buffet KaraKara. Most of the dishes feature local ingredients, and you can try several types of local Okinawa soul foods. Lots of fresh greens, too, and dishes will rotate based on seasons; the menu focuses on local island vegetables. Plus, all the dishes have allergy card information.

There are dishes that feature hechima, goya, tougan, Okinawan pork, Okinawa soba, tofu, shiraae, fish, as well as some more westernized dishes. Plus there is soft-serve and a variety of desserts. Everyone can be happy eating here. We like to take out-of-town guests here to get a feel for local food, while still having lots of options. Personally, I prefer KaraKara to Daikon-no-Hana, another popular Okinawa buffet chain with a similar style. KaraKara is a must-try for anyone coming to Okinawa.

It is cheaper to go during lunch rather than dinner– but at dinner time the buffet has sushi items! Lunch is about~1500yen, dinner ~1800yen, and children are cheaper. There is also a second location on the 9th floor of the Ryubo Department store in Naha, but I prefer the Tomigusuku location (the interior is nicer in my opinion).

I don’t have any pictures (hmm, guess I should go back soon…), I am always too busy eating.