In case you’ve ever wondered what those cheerful store clerks are chirping at you when you walk in the door, it’s “Irashaimase!” which translates to “Welcome!”

I’ve been practicing this phrase over and over, much to the amusement of my Japanese host family. It sounds deceptively simple: Ee-rah-shay-mah-say. However, the “rah” part is more of a “d’lah” sound with the tongue rolling from the roof of the mouth to the bottom… I haven’t quite got it yet, but one night had Amiko-san rolling on the floor with my outrageous antics. Sweeping my arms wide, I rolled my r-r-r-r-rah like a bad opera singer, and shouted out the phrase dramatically. Holding her sides, she told me, “YES! YES! Do it just like that!”

You see, I need to have it down by this coming Sunday, when I’ll be welcoming visitors to the Yaedake Bakery during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Me and Heather

Heather and I have actually been working at the bakery three days a week for the last two weeks. As you can see by the photos above and below, everyone practices a germ-free baking environment.


Nohara-san gives all the dough a last check before final baking.

What’s so great about this particular bakery, you ask?

The answer is: everything! The regular workers are fabulously friendly, and eager to help volunteers learn the process of bread baking, even those without any baking experience. Which is another great thing about the bakery – volunteers and visitors are welcome. Over the last year more than 50 volunteers from all over the world have pitched in at Yaedake bakery! This is Wa-san, just such a volunteer from Hong-Kong.


Actually, that’s why I’m posting about a bakery. While it technically falls under the ‘To Eat” category, between the drive to get there and the volunteering and/or tour, it’s definitely something “To Do”! If none of that gets you up the mountain, maybe this will… undeniably the best thing about the bakery is it’s absolutely delicious 100% whole wheat DAIRY FREE bread.

Mmm mmm

That’s right. No milk, eggs or butter AND it’s preservative free.  The recipe was developed originally in a home kitchen, to help hospital patients with strong allergies. It was such a success with the patients, others began to ask for it, and before long orders were pouring in.

The operation moved to a bakery, which operates Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, when literally hundreds of loaves, buns, twists and tarts are passed through the ovens. If you show up during the week on one of these days, between noon and 3:00 pm, the bread sells fresh-out-of-the-oven right off the cooling racks:


I can testify that it’s delicious, and all made with the same dairy free whole wheat base. Got a hankering for fresh garlic buns? How about the local Okinawan favorite, ahn-pan? Or blueberry filled tarts? Maybe Raisin-Walnut twists, or apple turnovers? Then get yourself to the Yaedake Bakery! If you come this Sunday, you just might hear my operatic rendition of “Irashaimase!”

Yaedake Bakery


Address: Japan, 〒905-0221 Okinawa Prefecture, Kunigami District, 本部町伊豆味1254

GPS Coordinates: 26.6422627, 127.92882869999994

Directions: It’s just like going to Ocean Expo Park. Take the Expressway north to its end just south of Nago. It merges/becomes 58. Stay on 58 to Prefectural Road 84 and turn left. (You may see an earlier turn for 84 that goes right – ignore it! Wrong 84. Stay on 58 winding through Nago.) From there follow the English language signs to Mount Yaedake. Go up the mountain 3.8K and take a left. About .2K you’ll see the bakery on your right.


  1. We went up there today…Beautiful drive up the mountain surrounded by Cherry Blossoms, great views and to be welcomed by the smell of fresh baked bread…Made for a great Sunday and it was nice meeting Dasha and Heather.

    If you can’t make it this weekend for the festival, I’d highly recommend it next weekend. I’m sure the Cherry Blossoms will be in full bloom by then.

    You’re very inspiring Dasha and Heather, keep us posted on the adventures!

  2. Editor’s Note: I should point out that these are Japanese style tarts, etc. They are not sugared or sweetened in the Western fashion. The apple tarts are made from the whole wheat bread base, not a flaky pastry – and they are filled with a baked apple filling. Same with the blueberry – they are sweetened by their own natural fruity sugar. Don’t buy them expecting French Pastries! But do expect a healthy tasty snack. 🙂

  3. My husband always thought they were saying stuff like, “Ouch! You’ve stepped on my foot! Get off of itttttt!” or “Get the hell out you crazy personnnnn!” And they were always smiling and saying it cheerful so that you didn’t hear the sarcasm in it. Whew, so nice to hear that that’s so not the case!

  4. My husband and I were trying to figure out what this word was – most places we’ve been the workers say it so quickly I couldn’t catch anything but the “mase” part and the friendliness of it. Too many years in retail, I guess, but I LOVE THIS – it’s just great customer service. 🙂

    I’m going to have to venture up to the bakery – my 7 yo is *not* an adventurous eater but bread and pastries she’s (normally) willing to give a go. YAY!

  5. Dasha, I just love this post. What an awesome adventure you’ve had. I needed to read this. I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut here. My life has become easy and comfortable. Posts like this inspire me to EXPLORE. FIND. DO. (Course, it doesn’t hurt that food is involved.) I’m only in Okinawa until the end of this summer. Thanks for providing this little inspirational push to get my butt back into gear and take advantage of the many, many opportunities this island holds before it’s too late.

    Can’t wait to hear about your next big adventure.

  6. I can’t wait to give this bakery a try!! Also, I have a hint on how to pronounce the Japanese ‘r.’ It doesn’t come from the roof of your mouth, but from placing your tongue behind your two front teeth, giving it the strange ‘l’ sound. Since I’ve learned this, and practiced, I get tons of compliments from my Japanese friends. Good luck!