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[Ayaffami] Offers Food & Dishes that are Extra Special; The Most Recommended Spot by the Local Hateruma Island Locals
post : 2019.11.25 23:00
Hateruma Island, Japan’s southernmost island. About ten years ago, there were hardly any restaurants nor shops offering miscellaneous goods. One shop that has been around since that time is Ayaffami (named Ongaku Shokudo (music diner) Pananufa at the time of opening). They don’t do any sort of promotions but when you ask a local, “Is there a restaurant you can recommend?” You’ll likely get a response, “Ayaffami is good!”
Yoshimi Hateruma, the owner of the shop explains, “The name of our shop, Ayaffami, is an ancient word from the local Hateruma language that describes that time in the day when light and darkness coexist after the sun has already set but there’s still light.” (Photo above shows Hateruma-san to the right. To the left is Kyoko Obayashi, a co-owner.) At the shop, she doesn’t only cook but also weaves, using an old method with the weaving tool bound at the waste, and the woven cloth is dyed using local materials. Also, throughout the shop, you can see how they cherish and work to protect the cultures of the island, like traditional ceremonies, rituals, and songs from the past.
When asked what special care they put into the shop, Yoshimi-san responds, “Local production for local consumption, an island version of that.” The blessings of the island that can only be harvested at a particular season is particularly delicious, she says.
When I interviewed her, she mentioned that leafy vegetables were in season, like bok choy, spinach, mustard greens, potherb mustard, as well as root vegetables like daikon radish, carrots, potatoes, onions and others, totaling to about 20 varieties of vegetables. When you order their Champuru stir-fry dish around this time of the year, you’ll get a plate with vegetables that are 80-90% locally produced. Other ingredients are procured from the neighboring island of Iriomote, and other islands nearby. (Photo shows their most popular dish, stewed Rafute Soki pork ribs with tender cartilage (800 yen).)
Besides food, there are also various plants that grow on the island that are used as dyes (such as Fukugi, indigo, ginger lilies, etc.). In particular, the indigo from Hateruma is a little different from that of mainland Japan and the other islands of Okinawa Prefecture. The color is lighter than the deep, dark shades of Ryukyu indigo and the brilliant hue is like the seas of Hateruma. At Ayaffami, they use indigo that they grow themselves.
Inside the shop, you’ll see many bookshelves filled with various books that lets you peak into the interests of the owners. Since there isn’t a library on the island, the owners kept all the books they got to do their research on various subjects and placed them on the shelves. Now, the customers get to enjoy the books and they’ve become somewhat of a book café of the island.
When asked what the greatest charm of Hateruma was, and what they liked best, she said, “I recommend the off season the most. It’s very quiet and the island is wonderful with a pleasant breeze. I enjoy doing nothing, just gazing out to the sea, taking a nap, and at night, looking up at the stars. I enjoy it the most because it’s very calm and peaceful.” She described the wonderful time of year on Hateruma Island, the off season, which is from November to April.
For those of you looking to spend time away from the chaos of the cities in a quiet and peaceful place, Hateruma Island is the place to go, particularly during the less busy season. Enjoy a lovely time at the beach on Japan’s southernmost island, and visit Ayaffami for a break.
Address: 475 Hateruma, Taketomi Town, Yaeyama, Okinawa
Hours: 11:30 to 15:00
Closed: Irregularly (changes by season)
*The local islanders highly recommend the shop!
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Hiroshi Kuwamura (KUWA)