- Kayauchi Banta: A spectacular spot in the northern region of Okinawa Island, overlooking the azure sea.
- Soft & Jiggly♪ Fresh Jimami (peanut) Tofu at Hanasho Factory Cafe
Tasty eats and great fun, too! 5 Michi-no-Eki (roadside stations) that you’ll want to stop by while driving on Okinawa Island
post : 2023.01.30 17:00
To fully enjoy everything that Okinawa has to offer, having a rental car will certainly be a necessity. While cruising around the island, you’ll want to swing by some of the great Michi-no-Eki found in Okinawa.
Michi-no-Eki or roadside stations are found across Japan, and here in Okinawa, too, you’ll find a great variety of fresh, local ingredients and specialty products at these locations. A visit to a Michi-no-Eki is also highly recommended if you’re looking for gifts and souvenirs from Okinawa. But that’s not all. Some Michi-no-Eki have unique attractions, like large playground equipment that offers great fun for the kids. Some people make such Michi-no-Eki their destinations rather than just a brief stopover on their way elsewhere. Take a look at our five selections.
1. Michi-no-Eki Itoman: The largest in Okinawa! A fish market operated by the local fishery cooperative, too!
Located in Itoman City, just 20 minutes by car from Naha Airport, Michi-no-Eki Itoman is the largest roadside station within Okinawa prefecture. From Okinawan souvenirs to locally produced fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood, as well as a range of tasty eats to satisfy any gourmet, you’ll find it all here at this “theme park of Itoman products.” There are five facilities within the sprawling grounds, and one of them is the JA Farmers’ Market Itoman, Umanchu Ichiba. It’s a huge ‘antenna shop’ offering produce and other goods delivered from the over 1,300 registered members, made up mainly of contracted farmers. Here, you’ll find fruits and vegetables that were harvested fresh in the morning of that day.
We can’t forget about seafood when talking about Itoman, a city known for its flourishing fisheries industry. The Osakana Center, or the fish center, is operated by the Itoman fisheries cooperative, with 11 shops offering fresh seafood, Kamaboko (fish cakes), sushi, and various ready-made dishes. It has an old market atmosphere, where shoppers ask the shopkeepers about the variety of seafood available and how to prepare them, and people buy delicious side dishes from the deli as they enjoy the market. Next door at Yukura, Itoman City Bussan (product) Center, is a wide selection of Okinawan gifts and souvenirs, like local folk art and a popular assortment of sweets, and is a convenient spot to stop by on your way to the airport.
■For more on Michi-no-Eki Itoman: https://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/1274
2. A splash pad and large playground equipment! Michi-no-Eki Ginoza offers fun for everyone.
With their catchphrase, “the village of water, greenery, and sunshine,” Michi-no-Eki Ginoza is located in picturesque Ginoza Village. After renovations, the new and improved facility reopened in 2018. Popular since before the renovation is Mirai Ginoza, a direct sales center for local specialty products, offering a fantastic selection of goods produced by local farmers and businesses. At the food and beverage tent, you can enjoy Jagamen noodles, made with potatoes grown in Ginoza, another one of the village’s specialty products.
A new addition to the facility is the Gino-kun Land, a fun play area for the kids with a splash pad and large playground equipment. With a trampoline, several slides, and other exciting things, this area will make any child smile with joy. Next to the playground is an open square and stage, where craft markets and other outdoor events are held.
■For more on Michi-no-Eki Ginoza: https://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/1332
3. Haneji-no-Eki offers fresh and delicious eggs and a spectacular observation space.
Located in the Haneji district of Nago City, near the popular tourist destination of Kouri Island, is Haneji-no-Eki. This roadside station mainly offers local agricultural and livestock products, as well as specialty products from the surrounding municipalities in the northern region of Okinawa Island. Recommended items offered here in the summer are mangoes and pineapples, and in the winter, a variety of citrus fruits. And we can’t forget about the eggs. Okinawa’s first poultry farms began in Haneji, and at Haneji-no-Eki, you’ll find delicious eggs that are so fresh you can enjoy them raw.
The four shops offering delicious dishes are found both inside and outside the building. There’s a parlor offering tasty Haneji chicken, a diner where you can enjoy set meals prepared with fresh catch delivered by local fishermen, a popular café offering gapao rice made with ground Agu pork and their special sauce, and you can also enjoy a tasty dish of loco moco. Once your appetite is satisfied, head up to the second floor to the observation space for a spectacular view of the Haneji inlet. The view and the gentle sea breeze offer a perfect setting for a nice little break.
■For more on Haneji-no-Eki: https://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/710
4. Nakijin-no-Eki Sore: Shaped from the passion and energy of the local Nakijin women.
Situated in Nakijin Village in the northern region of Okinawa Island is Nakijin-no-Eki Sore, operated by the wonderfully energetic local women of the village. The name Sore comes from the suffix of various phrases in the Okinawan language when offering hospitality to guests. It is also chanted in songs (Sore! Sore!) to raise the excitement of the moment and was chosen as the name for this roadside station with the hopes of garnering vigor and momentum to revitalize the village. Lining the shelves within the shop are fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables grown by the local Oji and Oba (grandpas and grandmas), crafts, and a selection of delicatessen dishes including bento boxes, as well as jams and brown sugar.
The diner connected to the shop is brimming with both locals and tourists, looking to enjoy the delicious set meals prepared with the blessings of the village, leading to the revitalization of the village. The popular item on the menu is the Sore Set, made with an abundance of fresh local vegetables. The Jushii or the seasoned Okinawan rice dish is made with only dashi stock and no water and is one of their signature dishes. They also offer steaming noodle soups like Tebichi (braised trotter) Soba and Nankotsu (tender cartilage) Soba. Swing by this roadside station for a heartwarming experience.
■For more on Nakijin-no-Eki, Sore: https://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/952
5. Michi-no-Eki Yui Yui Kunigami is full of Yanbaru’s specialty products.
Yui Yui Kunigami is Okinawa Island’s northernmost roadside station. The architectural design of the building is inspired by Yonaha-dake, a mountain in Kunigami Village that has an altitude of 503 meters. As an “antenna shop” for Yanbaru, this Michi-no-Eki offers a wide selection of vegetables grown in Kunigami Village and other parts of the Yanbaru region, and also offers a wide range of gifts and souvenirs made with local specialty products. The restaurant within the facility that offers dishes prepared with Kunjan Pork, a local brand of pork nurtured in Kunigami village, is a popular spot among visitors.
One of the most popular items among the specialty products offered here is Karagi Tea, a herbal tea with a picture of Yanbaru Kuina (Okinawan rails) on the package. Karagi is a plant from the laurel family and is the name for Okinawan cinnamon in the local language. Karagi Tea offers a refreshing aroma similar to the common cinnamon, and has relaxation effects, warms the body, and improves digestive functions.
■For more on Michi-no-Eki, Yui Yui Kunigami and Karagi Tea: https://okinawaclip.com/en/detail/420
When feeling a little peckish or looking to stretch your legs while driving on Okinawa, stop by and enjoy the local Michi-no-Eki roadside stations. Each place offers different specialty products and delicious foods and beverages, so try a few different places and see what new and exotic things you might find.
*Note: Plants/vegetables such as water spinach and unprocessed potatoes are prohibited to be taken outside of Okinawa, so please check in advance.
*Information provided for each of the Michi-no-Eki introduced in this article are from the time of the original post in the links provided. Please check the official websites and/or other official information of the facilities for updated information.
Okinawa CLIP Editorial Department.
The original (Japanese) article was first posted on June 10, 2015, and last updated on January 25, 2023.