Okinawa Tourism Information:Tastes&BlessingsoftheIslandsPart33:SnackPine

Tastes & Blessings of the Islands Part 33: Snack Pine

post : 2019.07.25 20:00

When the comfortable breeze caresses the islands of Okinawa during the early summer season, a tropical fruit locally known as “Snack Pine” (a type of pineapple) welcomes its harvest season. At the storefronts in the marketplace, we can see numerous signs calling out, “Pineapples Available” “We have pineapples!” The waving signs dance in the breeze and shoppers are welcomed by more signs that excitedly say, “In season!” or “Our first shipment has arrived!” And we find ourselves drawn to the pretty pineapples lining the counters.

© Nagahama Shoten

When driving along the rural roads in the northern Yanbaru region on Okinawa at this time of the year, you may come across pineapple fields bursting with shades of brilliant green under the bright sunlight. Some pineapple farmers offer visitors a chance to experience snack pine harvesting on their fields, too.

© Nagahama Shoten

When you get up close to the cute little pineapples, you’ll see that they grow surrounded by thick, sturdy leaves with thorns like you see on some succulent plants. I have to say, when I first saw pineapples grown outdoors, I was shocked to learn that these fruits grew in such a way.

Snack pine farming is abundant across central to northern regions in Okinawa Island, such as Kunigami Village, Higashi Village, Yagaji Island, Ginoza Village, and Kin Town, as well as on the outer islands of Ishigaki and Iriomote Islands. Harvest season starts from around early summer and lasts a month or two. Snack pines are precious fruits that we can only enjoy during this short season.

Snack pines are a strain of pineapples known as “Bogor”, and they came to be known as “Snack Pines” because of the way you eat them, by tearing off small pieces and enjoy them like snacks! Compared to the commonly found pineapples, snack pines are less very sweet and not acidic and, so children and adults who aren’t too fond of the sour taste of some fruits will also enjoy it.

There are two types of colors to the snack pine, one is orange which you may think that it suggests that they’re ripe and ready to eat, and the other is a gradation of green and yellow. Regular pineapples require you to wait a little longer for them to ripen when you purchase them while they’re still green, but snack pines on the other hand, they’re ready to eat when you see them at the markets, even if they’re green! Don’t let the coloring fool you, they’re ready to be enjoyed. That said though, at our household, we still wait a little bit for the green to slightly change color, and we can smell its sweet scent. There’s nothing like having a nose to detect yummy things! When you smell the deliciously sweet scent filling the room, they’re ready to eat!

Ryukyu Glass Murakumo Flat Plate by Sakae Matsumoto

So, you’re supposed to tear off pieces from the pineapple to eat them, but for many of us who have never eaten snack pine, we’re left wondering, how…??? It’s easy! All you do is tug on the rounded lump and pull! Take a bite of the juicy pineapple, and you’ll taste the rich sweetness, without that tart taste like other pineapples. After one bite, I’m sure you’ll reach for another piece, then another. Children born and raised in this tropical region are experts at it, taking bite after bite of this delicious fruit. You can tear off a small lump at a time, but for bigger bites, go for two or even three connected lumps to get a mouthful of deliciousness.

Another characteristic of the snack pine is that they’re very tender. It’s tender all the way to the core, so as you can see in the photo above, you can even eat the core!

Ryukyu Glass Murakumo Flat Plate by Sakae Matsumoto

You’ll finish the whole thing in no time!

Snack pines are available at very reasonable prices within Okinawa when they’re in season, so look for them at the local supermarkets, JA farmer’s markets, and Michi-no Eki roadside stations. For those of you from other parts of Japan, look up online shopping sites or if you get a chance, head out to Okinawan specialty goods events that are often held in various places. Enjoy this delicious and aromatic fruit, available only for a short time from early summer.


Online Japanese shopping site to purchase snack pine (domestic delivery):
Nagahama Shoten

Inquiries regarding the Ryukyu Glass merchandise introduced in the article:
Gallery Haraiso
Address: 1-9-24 Ishikawa Akebono, Uruma City, Okinawa
Telephone: 098-989-3262
Hours: 11:00 to 16:00
Closed: Wednesdays & Sundays

Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)