Everything from eating healthy to enjoying a great meal out while in Okinawa
When we very first got to Okinawa, we were eager to try all the new foodstuffs. Many items looked strange and exciting. But we found one item that looked comfortable and familiar. Six doughnut holes topped with creamy icing and what looked like a garnish of chocolate. We popped one in and, "What in tarnation?" This was NOT a doughnut hole.

While not horrible tasting, my mouth, expecting the sweetness of a dessert, wigged out at the octopus ball with a horseradish and soy sauce topping. Yes, takoyaki was a great surprise in my early Okinawa days.

Takoyaki - A ball shaped doughnut appearing appetizer filled with diced octopus

One other curveball occurred when I attempted to use my fresh Japanese skills.

I knew the kanji for chicken and I assured my husband that the menu item I ordered was those yummy fried chicken pieces. Well, we ended up with a nice sized plate of fried chicken skin.

A little trust was lost in our marriage that day.

Fried chicken skins

But I didn't come here to tell you about my food mistakes. I'm writing here to inform you about the terrifying and strange culinary features on the island.

Horse sashimi adorns plates in some izakayas - bright red, and extremely high in vitamin content, it is served with soy sauce, wasabi and garlic. Some say it was first eaten when samurai, under siege in a castle, ran out of food.

Bashashi - Horse sashimi

How much of your life have you spent avoiding touching raw chicken? Now you can feast on slices of uncooked chicken. A friend actually tried chicken sashimi-style and said while it didn’t taste bad, he just couldn't get past the texture. "Tori Sashi" is served with garlic and ginger.

Torisashi - Lightly cooked chicken, raw, sashimi-style.

No doubt a few of you have heard of the famed fugu (blowfish) sashimi. The fish can only be cut by a licensed chef, as with a slip of the knife, the poison will leak into the flesh. However, a truly great chef should be able to allow a touch of poison onto the fish so that you get just a tingle when eating the sashimi.

Fugu - Blowfish sashimi

Jellyfish salad can be found in a few places on the island. It's not a very exciting meal addition, but I tried it. If you can forget that you are eating jellyfish, it's just kind of meh.

Jellyfish salad

Okay, I will tell you about one more food mistake I made. I like the stir-fries on Okinawa. But I got one that had a weird protein in it. It reminded me of chewing on an ear… because that's what it was. Mimiga is pig ear and it's served in a variety of ways on Okinawa.

Mimigaa - Pig's ear

Unusual foods extend to children as well. I personally consider it abuse, but Japanese parents offer their kids snacks like squid-on-a-stick as a treat.

Monjirou Ika (Brand) - Squid on a stick

I take extreme umbrage to the dessert trickery in Japan. Many a time I have been deceived by a delicious-looking cookie, expecting a chocolate filling, to be repelled with a smashed bean mixture. I love Japan and the Japanese, but someone needs to tell them that beans are not dessert, no matter how much sugar you cook into them.

Anko (bean paste) filled fish-shaped pastry

Go forth and find your own weird items and tell me about them! What have you tried, accidentally or deliberately?
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of Okinawa.Org.
About Author
Elizabeth Gomez
Elizabeth Gomez – Oki Adventurer, Artist, Dog Mom. Be sure to check out my Okinawa art!


I lived on Okinawa 9 years at three different times. [1966 through 1983]
I always ate local foods.
However, the unique foods shown in this article I never came across in local Okinawa eating places.
I do love to eat prepared squid (Ika) and I can eat it by the bag full.
I also eat the pastries with the bean filling.
It's not unique.
We Americans eat many different forms of beans.
Here in Illinois where I live there are a number of Asian grocery stores as well as a huge super market called "H-Mart."
They have all different kinds of foods we also find on Okinawa.
Although Orion beer is hard to find around the Chicago area.
One can even get it all in Chicago's Chinatown.
H Mart helped me not miss Asia quite so much when I was in America! My son said the H Mart in San Antonio even has Orion Beer! I could do without ever eating dried squid :p

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