Monday, March 13, 2006

okinawa (day 1)

3 days in Okinawa. The temperature was 24C (75F) during the daytime. We saw a lot of sights and ATE a LOT of food...

Our first day, started with spam musubi at the Naha airport. Our flight was during lunchtime so we didn't have much time for lunch. For most people in America, spam is looked down upon as "poor people" food. In Hawaii and in Okinawa, spam can definitely be found in most family's pantries. In Hawaii, you can get spam with eggs and rice for breakfast and can find spam musubi in the convenience stores. It is a good finger food especially when travelling. In Okinawa, they call spam musubi, pork tamago nigiri (spam, egg rice ball). These musubi are huge and had tsukudani (sweetly seasoned seaweed) inside. Each family whether in Okinawa or Hawaii has their own original way to make this musubi.

Our first sight seeing stop was Shuri-jo (Shuri Castle). This castle is modeled after a castle in China. One thing you will notice is that there are a LOT of Chinese influences in Okinawa. In the Shuri-jo bathroom, there were shisa faucets. The shisa is a lion-like figure that is usually found at the entrances of Okinawan homes. The shisa on the right will usually have its mouth open. This symbolizes the male who is protecting the home. The shisa on the left will usually have its mouth closed. This symbolizes the female who "grabs" onto happiness and doesn't let it go. Since it is spring in Okinawa, there were lots of flowers, this was an area with a lot of impatiens.

Our next stop was Okashigoten, a large factory which makes a lot of Okinawan cookies and sweets. One item that they sold were andagi. Andagi is the Okinawan donut. These donuts are fried but no sugar is put on the outside. We tried 3 different kinds (From left clockwise: kokuto (black sugar), goma (sesame) and plain). Many Okinawan families have their own original recipes.

We then went to check-in at our hotel, Mahaina Wellness Resort. The word mahaina is a cut and paste of different chinese character meanings: ma (the best state of something), hai (south), na (wave). It was thought that most explorers came to find their new lands on the "best south waves". Dinner was a buffet. Warning: if you go to most buffets in Japan, be prepared to be pushed around by other customers and have them cut in line to take their food...
Here's my first round: pink container (nigana tofu, bean curd with bitter leaves) rice with radish soaked in ukon (tumeric) and radish soaked in acerola (not pictured), on plate: from left clockwise, goya champuru (bittermelon with egg and tofu stir-fry), ku-buirichi (konbu (seaweed) stir fried with carrots and pork, vegetable salad with okinawan carrots, radish and umi-budo (which are these little salty roe-like seaweed that resembles tiny grapes), papaya-irichi (green papaya stirfried with pork, carrots and chives), naberanbushi (hechima (loofah gourd) stewed with chicken and miso (soy bean paste)), so-ki (pork ribs stewed in seasonings until the meat falls off the bone).
My second round from top clockwise: beni-jagaimo (red potato), somin champuru (stir-fry with somen (like cappelini) and goya (bittermelon), coconut cookie, coconut tart, goya champuru and so-ki.

Mahaina Wellness Resort
1456 Yamakawa
Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
Phone: 0980-51-7700


bourgogne said...

i remember hexagonal musubi in a norimaki with a thin slice of spam in it when we were in hawaii, but i like the idea of really elaborate ones like the one in your picture. it's funny that spam is nearly a staple in okinawa and hawaii (from the army bases?)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kat - I'm glad you had a lovely time in Okinawa, it's a shame I've never been... I love your new bag by the way :)

K and S said...

Hi Bourgogne,

I think spam came to Okinawa via the US military. Probably the same with Hawaii. All I know is we grew up eating it. My mom used to mix guava jelly and French's mustard and put it on top of a whole can of spam and bake it. And that would be a kind of dinner for us.

Hi Keiko,

If you ever get a chance to go to Okinawa, please do! The people very nice and food is really healthy.

I'm glad you like this bag. :)

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Kat & Satoshi

habuyoi said...

I lived on okinawa for 22 years and loved it. If you ever get to go go!! Visit a vilage called Yomitan, Sobe Village. The okinawains that live there are great. I lived there as a kid and adult. And I have a adopted family there. The people and food are great.

K and S said...

Thanks Habuyoi, I don't think we've visited Yomitan, but we have visited most of the other villages. Next time we go to Okinawa, I'll make sure to check out Yomitan :)

Take care.