Okinawa Tourism Information:Zumi(Wonderful)MiyakoIsland!EnjoytheTraditionalCuisineandFolkSong@“ShimautaIzakayaKiyama”

Zumi (Wonderful) Miyako Island! Enjoy the Traditional Cuisine and Folk Song @ “Shimauta Izakaya Kiyama”

post : 2018.07.13 18:00

“Shimauta Izakaya Kiyama” is located on Nishizato Main Street in Miyakojima City, and a sign made with red tile and a solid timber is the landmark to find this izakaya. Its name “Kiyama” is derived from a nickname of the owner’s parent’s house. He also hopes that this place will be piled with lots of happiness as a mountain as the name indicates (Kiyama = 喜山 literally means “mountain of happiness” in Chinese character).

The name of izakaya is inscribed on handmade tables discreetly. This is a rare free-smoke izakaya which is unlike other izakaya or restaurants, and families with small children or elderly customer can sit on tatami space and enjoy eating or drinking.

First, let’s try fresh seafood of Miyako Island. Both Miyako Island and Irabu Island are famous for bonito and tuna, and seafood is directly purchased from fishermen. Customers can taste white-fleshed fish sashimi as well, so how about enjoying sushi, simmered dish, simmered dish with salt, and tempura at Kiyama?  

Menu of the day is written on a blackboard. Irabucha (Knobsnout parrotfish), Akajin Mibai (Blue spotted grouper), etc. Name of fishes are mostly written in Okinawan dialect. The owner, Hentona’s parents manage a fruit farm, so gorgeous mango will be on the menu during the best season season for mango. Let’s look at the menu, and I found an unknown food. What is “Ngidu?” I had no idea what it was even though I’m from Okinawa, so I ordered it right away.

“Mozuku seaweed with vinegar” is on the left of photo above, and next to it is “Ngidu.” It is stir-fried Kandaba (climbing plant). Hentona’s grandmother used cook this dish, and it is macrobiotic diet. Simmered and dried shredded bonito is sprinkled on top of it. In Miyako Island’s dialect, potato is “Nmu,” enjoy your meal is “Nkagiru,” and welcome is “nmyachi.” Probably many words on Miyako Island starts from the letter “n.” 

Next dish that I ordered was “Pantu Yakisoba (stir-fried noodles).” You might recognize its name if you were familiar with festivals on Miyako Island. Pantu is a traditional eccentric festival on the island, and the Gods covered with mud walk around the area and put mud to people and objects to repel bad luck. This is a stir-fried Okinawa soba noodles with squid ink, so customers’ teeth turn black while enjoy eating the dish. Okinawan potteries are used to serve dishes at Kiyama, and each color and pattern are beautiful, and they made food look good and delicious. 

He is Kiyoshi Hentona, the owner of Kiyama. He is a multitalented person. He works as a hall staff, cooks dishes at the kitchen, and plays sanshin and sings. He also helps his parents at a fruit farm. What a “daizu patarakimunu (hard worker)” he is!

Lots of rare Awamori are served at Kiyama, and all-you-can drink plan is also available on the menu. 

After enjoying delicious foods and Awamori, it is time for live music. Performance takes 3 times per day, and the performer of the day this time was Miwa Yonashiro. She is a highly-evaluated singer in Okinawa and elsewhere. You can also listen to the traditional folk song of Miyako Island. 

The final part of performance finishes with “Kuicha!” This is the traditional dance that is performed at festivals to pray for good harvest or ritual for rain, it has different attractive feature compare to “Kachashi” on Mainland Okinawa. Kachashi dances at the same spot, but as for Kuicha, people stand in a circle, shake hands and legs, raise their voice in unison, and go around. The origin of its name came from “Kui (voice) & chasu (in unison).” Actually, this was my first time to dance kuicha, but this sense of unity was amazing! 

Happiness to enjoy local flavorful and nutritious dishes, and joy to be united while enjoying traditional songs and entertainment. I had precious time to enjoy and experience local food and culture this time. Enjoy the amazing night at Kiyama when you visit Miyako Island.

Shimauta Izakaya Kiyama  
Address: 244 Hirara Nishizato, Miyakojima City
Tel: 0980-72-6234
Business Hours: 17:00-24:00
Closed: Tue

Okinawa CLIP photo writer Naoko Tsuruta