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- A great scenery spot Visitor Center “Subaco”, sitting atop Nangusuku Park
Restaurant and craft shop Ayafufami – the most recommended place on Hateruma Island
post : 2017.11.04 07:00
Hateruma is the southeastern-most island of Japan. Up until about 11 years ago, there were no restaurants or craft shops besides Ayafufami (pronounced “ah yah fah mi” by locals), which used to be called Music Restaurant Pananufa. You can’t find this restaurant on any digital map and it’s also hard to find because they don’t have a homepage. The place was recommended to me by some island locals when I was looking for a someplace to eat.
Owner Yoshimi Hateruma (pictured to the right of co-owner Kyoko Obayashi) explained the origin of store’s name. “A 100-year old lady once explained to me,” she said. “that the word ‘Ayafufami’ refers to the moment of time when the darkness and the remnants of the sunlight compete just after sunset.”
Yoshimi and Kyoko not only manage the restaurant, but also engage in traditional dyeing using local materials and koshiori textile weaving. They love local festivals and other traditional cultural expressions, such as old island songs. Historical objects are displayed here and there at the shop.
“We pay special attention to using local products.” Yoshimi said. The seasonal island ingredients are enjoyable by themselves.
At a given time of year, various leafy vegetables such as bok-choy, spinach, mustard greens (mizuna) are available. Also daikon radish, carrots, potatoes, onions and other root vegetables – about 20 kinds of vegetables – are in season. If you order the shimayasai (island vegetable) champuru (stir-fry), 80 to 90 percent of the ingredients come from local farms. Other ingredients are from Iriomote or other neighboring islands. The best seller is the nankotsu sooki no rafutee, which is a set meal featuring tender cartilage and spareribs simmered with soy sauce for 800 yen.
Other than the edible vegetables, plants used for dye pigments, such as fukugi (a mangosteen relative), indigo or gettou (shell ginger) grow on the island. The island’s indigo is known for it’s rich color that is different from that found on the mainland or even other Okinawa’s islands. Ryukyu indigo usually has a deep blue color, but the one from Hateruma Island is brighter, like the ocean in Hateruma. At Ayafufami, they grow their own indigo.
There are several bookshelves scattered about inside the shop. As there are no libraries on the island, they have been collecting books for their business and displaying them in the shop like a book café.
I asked the owners about the particular charms of the island. I was advised that the best time to visit is the off-season, when it is quiet and you can spend the day enjoying a comfortable sea breeze, taking a nap or just doing nothing. Then, you can spend the night stargazing. November through April are apparently the best months to visit Hateruma Island.
If you feel like taking a break from the hustle of town life, please visit Hateruma Island during off seasons. You can relax and enjoy some quiet time at Ayafufami.
Address: 475 Hateruma, Taketomi-cho, Okinawa
Closed: irregularly *depends on the season
*There is no URL is not available. Just ask a resident about them.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Hiroshi Kuwamura (KUWA)