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Every 2nd Sunday of the month is “Ishigaki Marche” day. Grab your market bag and head out to find your “favorite,” “fun,” and “tasty” items!
post : 2021.04.22 20:00
The fifth Ishigaki Marche was held at Maezato Park on Ishigaki Island (on March 14, 2021), and the event welcomed customers with 70 booths, the highest number of booths yet.
The booths offered a great diversity of goods, from handmade accessories, imported goods, secondhand clothes, insect specimens, and services like fortunetelling and massages. There were also booths offering various tasty foods and beverages, like selections of processed foods, original drinks, and 17 stalls that offered Japanese, Western, Chinese, and a wide range of exotic dishes.
All the people that came by seemed to be enjoying a relaxing time at the market under the brilliant blue sky, as they leisurely looked for their new “favorite,” “fun,” and “tasty” items.
Ishigaki Island Frozen Fruit KOPPARI joined the Marche for the first time and offered their original products like the pineapple sorbet and other tasty treats, as well as fresh vegetables harvested on the island by local farmers.
Yoko Sano, who set up a booth for the second time, explains how her friend got her involved the first time around. For this Marche, her booth was a joint effort with three of her friends.
As I peeked into a booth that had a sign that read, “the tiny insect museum,” I saw numerous test tubes that contained stag beetles, Japanese rhinoceros beetles, and other insects. Surrounding the test tubes were young insect lovers who were enthusiastically peeking into the tubes.
At the booth, “Boshiya Tin,” they offered hats and accessories made with plants found on Ishigaki Island, and they also offered bangle-making workshops (¥1,000 /adult, ¥500/high school students and younger). For visitors to the event with a little extra time, a hands-on workshop to make their personalized accessory was a lovely experience.
At the tent set up by “Sengyo Michitake-maru,” a fresh seafood business founded in 1955, they offered various takeout foods like fried fish, as well as their original, processed merchandise like Ishigaki Maguro Rayu (spicy oil with tuna) and Shiromi-Zakana no Tsukudani (preserved fish cooked in soy sauce and other ingredients). As I looked at their goods, I made a mental note to visit their shop in Shinei-cho where the younger generations of the business were working hard as they carried on the legacy.
Various other tents were offering all sorts of wonderful products.
The tent shown above offered beachwear and other clothing that would be perfect for the upcoming summer season.
Embroidered ribbons made in India.
Non-alcohol cocktail stand.
Organic lemonade by NUTSTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS.
I had a chance to interview Maiko Takahashi, the organizer of Ishigaki Marche, and she shared what inspired her to start this event, and various episodes surrounding the holding of the event up to now.
“Last year, a friend asked me to join them in holding a flea market. I thought, well, if we’re going to do it, maybe I should see if other people would like to join us. So, I went on social media and asked around, and within a week, we had thirty applicants. I asked at my work if they would let us hold it within their premises, and that was our first Ishigaki Marche.”
After that initial event, Takahashi-san went over areas that could be improved, like ensuring more parking spaces, and made numerous trips to the city hall on her bicycle, made lots of phone calls, and ran around the island looking for an appropriate venue. Now, she organizes the Ishigaki Marche on the second Sunday of every month, at the present venue, Maezato Park
Takahashi-san shares, “With the spread of COVID-19, various events were canceled one after another, and the accessory makers and other artists had nowhere to offer their work. After the first event, so many people thanked me for organizing the event, and that’s what drove me to continue organizing Ishigaki Marche.”
Q: The number of vendors is increasing with every event. How do you get the word around? And what are your goals in the future as the organizer of this event?
“This is our fifth Ishigaki Marche, and I take on the role of organizing and putting it together, but it’s really the people who apply to set up their booths at the event. They contact their friends and more and more new booths come together. It’s thanks to everyone involved that the event has become so big. We don’t make any posters or flyers, and all our advertising is done on social media. To see this many people gathering for the event speaks volumes about the impact of social media today.”
Takahashi-san added with a smile, “First, I hope to make a solid foundation for the local islanders to feel at ease and enjoy themselves at the event. Then hopefully, when tourists return, this will be a great event that people will even time their visits to meet ‘the second Sunday of every month,’ and can be a popular tourist spot.”
Remember, every second Sunday of the month is Ishigaki Marche day. Why don’t you grab your market bag and head out to see what awaits you?
Venue: Yashima-cho 2-Chome, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Marche Day & Time: Every 2nd Sunday of the month (subject to change)
10:00 to 15:00 (canceled if it rains)
Organizer: Maiko Takahashi https://instagram.com/marilyn.ishigaki?igshid=g3160atuyrhq
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Akiko Mizuno