Okinawa’s ‘kitchen’ Reopens after Renovation

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Makishi Public Market in Naha is seen crowded with tourists and local residents on March 19, the day when its refurbished building was inaugurated.

NAHA — The refurbished Makishi Public Market, a popular spot dubbed Okinawa’s “kitchen” where various Okinawan foods, such as pig’s ears, bitter melon and colorful fish, are available, has reopened, attracting many tourists and local residents.

The iconic market was established in 1950 after developing from a black market, and has supported the daily lives of residents in Okinawa Prefecture since the postwar period under U.S. occupation. The previous market building was completed in October 1972, shortly after Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration. The building was closed due to aging in June 2019 for renovation, during which the market continued to operate at a temporary location.

The refurbished market, which was inaugurated on March 19, is housed in a three-story building with shops selling fresh meat, fish and other ingredients on the first floor and eateries serving Okinawan dishes on the second floor.

There is also a space on the third floor where visitors can try their hand at cooking. Eighty-four shops, including nine new ones, operate at the renovated market. On the reopening day, shop owners and clerks were busy offering tastings to tourists and giving them advice on how to cook the ingredients.

“Ingredients from the market have been indispensable in my life since I was a child. I’m happy to see the market renovated,” said a 78-year-old woman who lives nearby.

“We want to disseminate local food culture as a symbol of tourism in Okinawa after the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control, while cherishing ties with the local community,” said Tomomitsu Aguni, the 48-year-old head of the public market association.