5 famous foods you’ll find in Okinawa


Okinawa has a very different history, culture, and climate than mainland Japan. Known as the Ryukyu Kingdom before being annexed by Japan in 1879, the island chain maintained close relationships with China and Southeast Asia in the centuries when the Japanese mainland was self-confined.

Expect delicious and eclectic dishes when visiting the archipelago from sea grapes to bitter melon and Spam!

1. Rafute (pork belly)


Pork is central to Okinawan cooking. Taking their cues from China, Okinawans have always been big on eating every single part of the easy-to-raise cattle.

The most popular pork dish is rafute, fatty pork belly simmered for hours in a broth of soy sauce, awamori (very strong distilled Okinawan liquor), and brown cane sugar, which is widely grown on the islands. It’s served as thick chunks of meat soft enough to melt in your mouth. Wash it down with a tall glass of awamori—but be careful, because this liquor is dangerous.

2. Goya champuru

Also known as bitter melon, goya (photo at top)is Okinawa’s signature vegetable. This healthy veggie looks like a wrinkly cucumber and tastes exactly as the name suggests—bitter.

Though used in a multitude of ways, goya champuru is Okinawa’s most famous dish involving goya. It sees the vegetable stir-fried with tofu, eggs, and meat. More often than not, the meat in the mix is Spam, a more recent legacy of the American presence in Okinawa. In fact, you’ll find Spam all over the island as a snack or even for breakfast served with eggs.

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Mmmmm.... I would love to try the snake soup!

And pleases, no comments about wild meat and Covid or China. Pork is infested with bugs that pose risk to humans

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

And pleases, no comments about wild meat and Covid or China. Pork is infested with bugs that pose risk to humans

Then don’t go to Okinawa because it is a pork lovers paradise. I love Okinawa, but for the life of me, I can’t do the Goya thing, just God awful vegetable.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )


dont get me wrong, I love pork and eat it all the time, I’m a very adventurous eater.

I was just anticipating that I’d get a bunch of negative comments because it’s “wild food”.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I grow my own Goya for as much of the year as possible. Needs plenty of space but is well worth the effort if you are a Goya lover.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Okinawa is one of the few places where you can buy pork with the skin on. I've bought pork direct from a farmer before and he said the slaughterhouse he used couldn't do it.

I don't mind goya but I don't think chamburu is a particularly good way to cook it. I can't say I'm a fan of fully set scrambled egg either.

For me, that citus fuit seequa-saa or however you spell it is the taste of Okinawa.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don’t come and find them in Okinawa, make them where you are now. When COVID-19 is under control, sure, enjoy the islands, but for now? STAY WHERE YOU ARE!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Okinawan cuisine is great. Love the umibudo. @That person, “infested with bugs”?? you should stay of the raw sort and cook it. @Bass4Funk, it's a fruit, you’ve been eating the wrong thing!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

that person

Pork is infested with bugs that pose risk to humans

Then stop eating it raw.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Everything in Okinawa can be had on Honshu.

And I’ve made champuru more than a few times myself too

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I tried Goya so many styles it’s just too nasty for my personal taste, I gave it a lot of chances, but my body is saying, “nope..not for you!”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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