: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Goya Is Essential Part of Okinawan Culture

By: KC

Date Posted: 2001-05-04

May 8 is known in Okinawa as a day honoring goya (go - five, ya – eight), a well-known and essential ingredient in Okinawan diet, especially during summer time. Goya is a vegetable that has been attributed with many advantages to human health. It has been a part of Okinawan culture for a long time.

The vegetable is called ‘goya’ in Okinawan dialect. In Japanese it is ‘nigauri.’ It’s English name is bittermelon, and that about sums up its taste. It is bitter to the extent that some people find it impossible to eat, and definitely can be called an acquired taste.

In a grocery store, goya’s look is conspicuous. It is green and warty, and a thought easily arises that this vegetable will not taste good. And maybe, at the first sight, and first taste you are right. However, if you just avoid giving it a chance, you will miss the great benefits of this wonderful vegetable.

Goya is one of the staples in Okinawan homes. Most people eat this vegetable as a stir-fried dish mixed with egg, tofu, other vegetables, slices of pork meat, and almost anything else. The dish is called ‘champuru.’ Okinawan people say that they cannot stop eating this vegetable just because of its bitter taste. Many businessmen can be seen eating the bitter vegetable with a cold mug of beer after work. It may take several times before one learns to like the taste, but it is unforgettable. Mixing it with eggs can soften some of the bitterness.

Many claim that goya’s bitterness stimulates stomach and increases appetite. It’s considered especially good during hot and humid Okinawan summers. It is also good against high blood pressure, and is said to guard the body against cancer and diabetes. Goya contains plenty of vitamin C, so it protects against common cold. Plenty of medical research is currently done about goya’s benefits.

Although goya is now grown and distributed throughout the year, the high season for it is summer, from May through September. Goya Day is the day to welcome its season.

People also find new uses for goya. In 1997, Yoshiyuki Takara, the director at the instrument department of Takara Record Store in Naha City, invented the goya maracas and started selling it. His new instrument is about 10 cm long, green and looks just like a goya with lots of warts.

The goya maracas became a hit especially among tourists visiting Okinawa. They found the goya maracas in the store, and noticed that besides looking cute its sound is interesting. A popular Okinawan Latin band, Diamantes is also using goya maracas. In the beginning, Takara sold his funny-looking instrument only in his own store, but he decided that selling it in other instrument stores and souvenir shops would make it more popular. Now the goya maracas are available at souvenir and instrument shops throughout Okinawa for a reasonable 380 yen.

There is a theme park dedicated for goya in Nago City that presents a “goya festival” from May 3 through 8. At the park visitors can walk through a goya field and processing facilities. Unique products made of Goya are for sale, including dried goya that can be cooked in champuru or eaten as chips, goya tea, and more.

‘Goyaman,’ a character that has recently gained notoriety through a NHK TV drama, Churasan, went on sale at end of April. In the drama, the character did not fare too well, but early indications are that in the real life it will become a hit.

Goya is a part of Okinawan life and culture, and anyone living here should give it a try, especially on May 8.

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleOkistyleJU Facebook

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker