CONTRIBUTED BY SHELL BURGER
When I first arrived on-island, I was skeptical to buy food and produce off base. After seeing the prices for items at the on-base grocery stores, I was in shock at how expensive some items could be, and figured off-base items would be the same or more. For example, a 5-pound bag of white potatoes routinely goes for about $8.00 or more on base. Seeing that cost, we decided to switch from a potato to rice family. I blamed the crazy costs on living on an island, however, a friend encouraged me to check out a local farmers market, sharing with me all the great deals she found. I was off with directions in hand, and once I found her stand, I was surprised to see the prices off base were a lot better than on base. Sadly, it took me about six months to stop buying produce on base and find a couple of farmers markets I now go to weekly. I can normally walk out with multiple bags of items, including apples, bananas, potatoes, lettuce, and much more for around 1,500 yen.
Although the idea of going off base for groceries or produce can be scary, the items you can get will be worth the adventure. You won’t have to worry about items going bad within a day or two, and farmers markets and vegetable/fruit stands can be found all over the island, at fixed locations or just on the side of the road. Prices vary by seller, but they are all pretty reasonable, and sometimes you can find a stand that offers items you want for a killer deal. For example, last week I went to a new farmers market and got a bundle of six avocados for 300 yen. Avocados out in town normally go for 100 yen each. I definitely snatched that up and made some yummy guacamole. Nothing beats fresh and homemade favorites.
Some locations have English-speaking employees, but most don’t. So make sure you know what you are looking for or just be adventurous and try a new item or two. You never know what gem you will find. One of my favorite haunts is located in Awase, just off of Route 20 past 329. Most static farmers markets seem to only be open Monday through Saturday, as friends and I have found out the hard way. Since there are so many great stands, I ask you to share your favorites and help open others’ eyes to the possibilities of buying produce from the local economy. I look back now and wish I had not waited six months before buying local produce.
Do they sell flowers at the market?
Where can one get fresh jalapeno’s
probably one of the only places we have consistently found is a small stand across from the Toya MaxValu near (in) Yomitan, coordinates are approximately 26.391294, 127.728601. There is a green sign with white lettering with the word “farm” in katakana and “yomitan” in kanji (ファーム読谷). Other than that, we have not been met with much luck, it is usually random when we do find jalapeños.
And honestly not sure if these jalapeños are grown in Japan or elsewhere… my husband gets them and I don’t always read the package, but they seem to be fresh enough so we buy they every time we are up in that area.
This is the farmer’s market that is most convenient for me in Naha, it’s probably a bit far the rest of you, but it’s got lots of great deals. 1kg of DHA eggs for 388 yen, vegetables sold in huge bushels for 100-300 yen etc.
Shimajiri-gun Yaesecho, Okinawa
Editor’s Note: Due to technical difficulties this comment was not saved on our server. We are re-publishing it now to continue the conversation on this post.
From Map Man on 9/13/13:
“There is a Face Book page with many Farmer’s Markets listed: https://www.facebook.com/groups/160140934188143/
We just moved to Camp McT. I am not very good with directions but I am looking for a farmer market close by. Any suggestion?
Can someone please recommend a good farmers market near Courtney to get a good variety of fruits and veggies ?
There is a pretty good market on 329 outside of Kin on the side of the road. We went there a few weeks ago and bought cucumbers, bananas, tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon. It is on the left side of 329 as you are driving north.
Could someone give me detailed direction from foster to the farmer’s market ” we are fairly new to the island and not familiar with many places yet.
Jessica, look up Minami Farmers Market in the search bar of this website. It has directions from Foster. Welcome to Okinawa!!
So I live in a total bachelor pad, with few cooking materials and some (very little) cooking experience. Is there any grocery stores that are Americanized?
Funny you should ask… I actually submitted a write-up on the different grocery stores on island that should be coming out on Okinawa Hai around the 27th. But to answer your question there are several grocery stores that are similar to american ones. San-A (3 triangles), Max-Value, and Kanehide (Birds). The food is mostly labeled in kanji, but they lay the stores out pretty much like back in the states.
I go to the one outside of Kadena Gate 3 at least once a week to pick up fresh fruits and veggies and flowers! they have great prices and the produce lasts forever! I would suggest bringing your own bag because they charge you for bags there (only 3 yen but still).
Amanda, maybe we should take a field trip! I tried to find the one outside Gate 3 and couldn’t… 🙁
Katrina, maybe I can help…go straight out Kadena Gate 3 and you will pass Chibana Housing on your right then the split on your left that takes you to Camp Shields, stay straight. Not too long after that you will come to a light with a sign that directs you to turn left to go to the Botanical Gardens and the Kurashiki (spelling?) Dam, stay straight. Not too long after that you will see a CoCo’s convenience store (hot pink and white sign) on your right. The side entrance to the Farmer’s Market is directly across from that CoCo’s. It is called Chanpuru Ichiba and there is a post on Okinawa Hai for it if you type into the search bar. It is a JA store, so you may see a JA sign. If you come to Rt. 329, you have gone too far. It is on the corner of 329 and whatever the number is of that road that comes straight out of Gate 3. Hope you find it. If you still can’t find it, there is another one in Yomitan and it is pretty much right off of 58. I can give you directions to that one as well. Hope that helps!
I would be happy to show you any time Katrina. My email is Manda40430@aol.com. The directions that LaLa gave were pretty perfect. I always remember that I pass a used car lot on the left in the bottom of a building and there is a graffiti-ed building and then an office building tucked back from the road. After the office building there are 2 pillars and most of the time they have banners out in front of the pillars. You pull in there (between the pillars) into a parking lot. You cannot see the building from the road which is why it is a little hard to find.
James, type Chanpuru Ichiba into the search bar here on Oki Hai. This market is not far out Kadena Gate 3 and has lots of fresh fruit and veggies.
Could someone possibly provide directions to any spots not too far from Kadena? Id love to get more fresh food in my diet!
the farmers market out Kadena gate three follow it down past Chibana and Camp Shields, you will go through one light and will come close to Hwy 329 but before you get there on the left is a big farmers market. It is hidden a little, there are ttwo entrances and it is in a big building. As you start to see the light at Hwy 329, look to the left. The second entrance is right before the big field.
There is another good shop on the same road as the Okinawa Zoo across from the water place. My co-worker shops there all the time and loves it.
We shop at that one too. Great prices and right down the road from us 🙂
What impressed me were the small farmer’s stands located along the road with a cash box unattended. 100 Yen was the price for whatever you chose. Whether that be bananas, carrots, spinach, or whatever. It was fresh, it was delicious, and most of all it was about trust. That’s still one of the reasons I love Okinawa.
Where do you usually find those? I love these little put stops on the road. Amy close to Foster?
Wow, I hate spell check. Looking for those little farmer stands by the road. Any close to Foster?