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Everything is fresh at Itoman Road Station

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-07-08

Tired of encountering a very limited selection of fruits and vegetables in your local commissary or supermarket? Wishing you could buy fresh fish instead of frozen for that tasty dinner you’ve been planning?

The answer is visiting the Itoman Road Station, Itoman Michi-no Eki, a super marketplace where if it isn’t fresh, it isn’t there. The Itoman Road Station is a collaborative effort forged more than a year ago to build upon a very special Farmer’s Market that’s been around for seven years. Adding to the Farmers Market charm are a Seafood Center, Itoman City Products Center and the INOU, a disabled people’s support facility. There’s also a flowers and plants greenhouse selling a variety of Okinawa’s trees, shrubs, plants and flowers.

The Farmers Market organized and owned by JA Okinawa Itoman Branch prides itself on an all-Okinawan operation. All vegetables, fruits, greens and flowers come direct from local fields, guaranteed fresh. In many cases, the names of the farmers who grew the fruits, vegetables and plants are affixed to signs on the individual displays. Farmers bring their products to the market, and then have the option of even setting their own prices. The JA staff then handles sales and organization.

The Seafood Center joined the Itoman Road Station 1 ½ years ago, offering a wide range of fresh seafood, brought straight from the sea to the ice beds. There are whole fish, squid, octopus and shellfish, not to mention shelves upon shelves of cut, sliced and packaged fish. Many of Okinawa’s top fish served as sashimi and sushi are available, and many are even packaged in sushi form.

For those impatient for the taste of fresh fish—raw or cooked—there’s a corner in the Seafood Center where you can have your selections served, or cooked and served, to order. It’s all fresh, and reasonably priced. It should be noted that the Itoman City North Fishing Port, where dozens of fishing trawlers are based, is only a few hundred meters from the Itoman Road Station.

A new dimension was opened last September, as the Itoman City Products Center opened its doors adjacent to the Farmers Market and Seafood Center. Just about everything Okinawan, with a smattering of Itoman-grown or produced goods included, are inside the Products Center. The ice cream stand just inside on the left features tasty ice cream not only in the flavors long experienced, but also more exotic choices like mango, pomegranate, and chili pepper. A variety of fruit wines, cookies, cakes and other treats are available for sale. Souvenirs of every sort fill the shelves and display racks, including handicrafts, kariyushi wear, tee shirts and dresses. On top of that, 11 different restaurants fill one-third of the building.

Itoman City’s disabled community has organized the INOU shop. The facility offers a meat shop and a café, with both daily specials and ready-made foods for dining in or for take out. On top of that, there’s a tempura stand just outside the Farmers Market that has a mouthwatering fish tempura.

Itoman City officials say the Itoman Road Station was created to encourage local citizens to shop close to home, and to encourage farmers and fishermen to bring their produce and seafood straight to citizens instead of selling to middlemen.

The Itoman Road Station is easily reached by traveling south on Okinawa Expressway to the very end. After driving down the ramp onto Hwy 331, continue until you see a large Tomigusuku Police Station on the right. Turn left ont another new road towards itoman and continue until the very last intersection. You see the Itoman Road Station on the right with a large JA sign on top of one of the buildings. Plenty of free parking is available.

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