- Serial / Moving to Okinawa ② Café “Ameiro Shokudo” Owner Keiko Tateno’s Case
- The Blessings of Nature, Hand Crushed Guava Tea
Serial / Moving To Okinawa ③ “Ameiro Shokudo” Owner Keiko Tateno’s Case 3/4
post : 2014.02.24 20:00
Keiko Tateno, the owner of “Ameiro Shokudo”, seems so peaceful and relaxed that she blends right into the laid-back atmosphere of Okinawa. So how did she settle down here and end up with her own café?
We will post her story in a four part serial.
In this third part, we will start when she found out what she really wanted to do while she worked her part-time job, and finally opened the café of her dreams.
Old folk house cafés are very charming and have a lot of atmosphere for people not from Okinawa, like me, so did you decide to open your shop in an old folk house from the beginning?
Tateno: From the beginning , I imagined doing it in an old folk house but I couldn’t find the right place. And even when I found a nice place I wasn’t able to rent it out so also I started looking into regular shops but I still wasn’t able to find somewhere nice, so I kept working part-time and I searched for a year then finally I found this place.
A year! That must have been hard. But the interior is original and very cute.
Did you remodel the place yourself?
Tateno: This place had to be remodeled from scratch. I asked a carpenter I knew and they did it but I helped with everything I could like plastering or painting walls.
You have a carpenter friend and you are not even from here, you must know a lot of people.
How did you make new friends here?
Tateno: I lived here for five years before opening my shop, so my friends introduced me to their friends and I met more people little by little.
Okinawa is kind of small so it doesn’t take long to connect with people.
Like a friend of a friend is a friend.
So when I told a friend that I wanted to open a shop, he told me he knew a carpenter and introduced me.
The people here are really warm and friendly.
Didn’t you come here during the Okinawa migration boom?
Do you have many friends from this time?
Tateno: I do. A lot of people moved to Okinawa back then. I’m still in touch with the people that I stayed with at the guesthouse when I first came. There is a girl that works in the café who first I met at that guesthouse.
It’s great that you kept in touch for all this time!
Have you had any hard times running your own shop?
Also are there any times that you felt glad you did?
This is my fourth year and of course I have faced some difficulties but I love this work and I want to continue.
I also want to keep doing this for my customers.
It’s a part of who I am but objectively I would like to grow this restaurant. I have locals and tourists as customers, but I would also like to serve office workers that have just been transferred to Okinawa without their families, who can’t cook and miss regular Japanese food.
Also I can meet in my shop the people that used to live here and returned to main islands when they come back to Okinawa on holidays.
It’s interesting to have a shop because you can stay connected with these kinds of people.
But it is already difficult to open a shop in your hometown, so wasn’t it an even a bigger challenge for you to open one so far from home?
Yes, it was hard but on the other hand, if I was in my hometown or in Tokyo I don’t think I would have my café opened yet. In Okinawa it feels easier to challenge yourself. Here, I have been able to network just by working part-time, and renting a shop is just as easy as renting an apartment here.
Probably in Tokyo the amount of money necessary to rent a store is higher, so I think it’s really easy to start a business in here.
With the assistance of her friends, Keiko Tateno took the first step towards her dream.
In the next and final part, she will tell what she has realized by actually living in Okinawa and give advice to anyone who wants to relocate to Okinawa.
Address: 1-3-7 Higawa, Naha City
Phone Number: 098-911-4953
Business Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Okinawa CLIP Photowriter Sandy