CONTRIBUTED BY KYLE KELLY
As my time here on Okinawa tragically comes to a close, my family and I are in a mad rush to try everything we can. I’m sure it is a common thing, but there are many things that we kind of “put on the back burner” as far as things to do and we are making an attempt to get all of those, and some new things, done in our last couple of weeks on island. We are one of those “hippie/new age” families that tries our best (usually with what little is provided by the commissaries) to eat as organic/natural as possible. Now in the states there is a nice little niche market set out for people like myself, but here due to the limited availability and my limited Japanese, it is a little more difficult to come by.
While sitting in one of the nice little breakfast café’s on the beach, I found an article in an English language newspaper that mentioned a new natural/organic market that opened up on island. Once I read the article I knew that I just had to check it out, so I ran out that same day and checked the place out. It was everything I was looking for and more.
The shop, albeit small, had a very nice variety of both locally grown and imported natural/organic goods that ranged from cooking ingredients to snacks to vitamins and more. One helpful feature is that descriptions of all items in the store are in both Japanese and English. They also have a juice/coffee bar right there in the store where they will brew you up an organic iced or hot coffee, or make you juice while you pay for your goods. My wife is the coffee drinker, so she tried an iced latte and couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was. I opted for the fresh carrot juice, which was also amazing. The prices were fair and they accept yen, dollars, or credit card. They also offer a membership for free.
The membership entitles you to discounts which come in the form of points accrued through purchasing qualifying items that are over 200 yen. If you spend over 10,000 yen they will give you double points, over 30,000 yen gets you triple points, and 60,000 yen gets you 4 points per item. Your member card will also determine the language your receipt is printed in (i.e. English speaking customers get an English receipt). Additionally the membership cards help the track which items are more popular so that they may increase the quantities on hand of the more popular items.
One of the things that will keep me going back is just how nice the staff was, the store manager also speaks nearly better English than I do.
Added by Kari Frazier 9/2016:
Finding Gluten Free Items at Green Leaf
While not every item will be safe for someone with celiac, they do carry several difficult-to-find gluten free items! There is not a specific section for gluten free items, so you will need to look around and explore a bit to find them. Also, most of the items have a Japanese label that covers the ingredients list, which makes it a bit more difficult to check the items. Asking the employees to help translate and also using a smart phone to look up brand information, though, can help you find what you need!
At the time of this article, most of the juices and alternative milks (eg soy milk or nut-based milk) are gluten free. There are gluten free chocolate bars, mints, canned beans and soups, honeys, teas, cream cheese, and juices. Some of these are imported from the US, while others come from Europe, Australia, and mainland Japan. Stay away from the spices and bulk foods, as none of these were processed in wheat-free factories.
Green Leaf also has a small cafe, where you can get a delicious smoothie or coffee beverage. Their smoothies are a bit pricey, but delicious and healthy!
Hours: Tues-Sun 1000-1900
Payment: Yen, Dollars, Credit Cards
Directions: From Kadena Gate 1: Head south on 58, turn right at 360 Grille (formerly Blueberry Cafe)/330 intersection, make your first left (yellow Ishigaki-jima restaurant), follow the road as it bends right, take the first right and the shop will be on the left.
From Foster Commissary Gate: Head north on 58, turn left at 360 Grille (formerlyBlueberry Café)/330 intersection, make your first left (yellow Ishigaki-jima restaurant), follow the road as it bends right, take the first right and the shop will be on the left.