Brimming with many tourist spots like Sefa Utaki, Okinawa World, and beautiful beaches, Nanjo City hardly ceases to amaze Okinawa visitors throughout the year. On a sunny winter day, I hopped in the car and headed to this southern city to treat myself to a nice day trip.

Chura Strawberry

My first stop of the day was Chura Strawberry Nanjo House. This was my first time trying strawberry-picking. Growing up in Okinawa, tangerine-picking is common, and strawberries didn’t seem to fit in with the sub-tropical climate. It seems, however, that strawberry-picking is growing in popularity on the island, so I figured it was time to give it a try.

I headed to Chura Strawberry in Nanjo City because of the great views and famous tourist spots I could also visit nearby.

Chura Strawberry farm is in Kakinohana District and is one of the biggest farms on the island. The farm’s three greenhouses are where the delicious berries are grown.

At the entrance, I was handed a plastic plate to hold picked strawberries. Masamichi Tokashiki, vice president of Chura Ichigo farm, showed me how to properly pick the berries. Although there was nothing complicated about it, it did require technique to make sure the strawberry detaches from the stem’s end and does not damage the stem itself.

To pull this off, you have to reach for a ripe strawberry from underneath, then tilt the bottom of the berry away from you. Next, pull the top down towards you to allow for it to detach easily.

Inside the greenhouse, many folks were busy finding ripened ones and picking them. While some were focused on harvesting by quietly picking one after another, others were cheering with joy and eating them as soon as they picked them.

In my case, I fell in the second category. As soon as I found a red strawberry hanging, I picked it and put it straight to my mouth. The berries were bursting with juicy, sweet flavor and literally “wowed” me.

I had never tasted a supermarket strawberry this good.

“You see, fresh strawberries are hard to beat,” Tokashiki said with a smile.

Dazzled by the eye-opening experience and flavorful berries, I had to have more. And, though I was concerned that there might not be enough ripe berries for everyone, there were plenty. Chura grows four types of strawberries, and all are planted in different sections across the three greenhouses.

Each strawberry I picked tasted so good and were difficult to resist. I chomped on one after another, almost forgetting to take photos for this story. If I had not been there for this article, I would just have just kept on picking and eating. These strawberries were that good!

If you still haven’t tried strawberry picking, you’re definitely missing out!

Also, MCCS Tours+ and Kadena ITT are offering tours to Ginoza Village in the north for strawberry picking.

Strawberry picking at Chura Ichigo Nanjo Farm

*Reservation through the website required.

*Please put on a mask except when you eat the strawberries. Stay hydrated because the greenhouses get warm. Use sanitizer, and measure body temperature at the entrance. Refrain from visiting the farm if you don’t feel well. Maintain proper social distance.

*On that day, the admission cost me a little less than $20 for 40 minute-all-you-can-eat. For detailed info on the fees, hours, and reservations, please check out the link below.


GPS Coordinates: N 26.157737, E 127.789188

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Tsukishiro Soba

I could not remember how many strawberries I had at the farm, but I was very satisfied for sure. I felt like I would not need food for a while. At least that’s how I felt until I found Tsukishiro Soba, a soba joint just a 5-minute drive from the farm.

The blue cottage-style building caught my attention as I was heading toward the Niraikanai-bashi Tenboudai observatory, so I decided to make a detour for some soba there.

One step inside and its slick interior made it feel like a café rather than a soba joint. The menu items were unique, too. In particular, “Niraikanai soba,” Tsukihsirosoba’s signature menu item for 900 yen had an unconventional look.

This soba dish came topped with various ingredients like pork belly, pork ribs, Japanese omelet, a leafy green, mozuku seaweed, fine strips of raw cibol, green onion, and semi-dried tomato, which made it look more culinary art than ordinary soba.

As a soba fundamentalist who prefers simple toppings, I was not sure how this unconventional soba would taste. I ordered out of pure curiosity.

When I finally dug in, it only took one taste of the rich, umami broth to give me a sense of the dish. The broth was so delicious I could just keep on gulping it down even without noodles or toppings (which, in fact, I did once I was done with the ingredients and the noodle.)

The toppings and noodles did not fail to add depth and layers to the dish. The broth, vegetables, and seaweed created variations of taste and texture, which hardly ceased to tickle my curiosity.

The tender and flavorful pork belly and ribs were intoxicating and satisfying, like how I feel when I eat barbecue. And though the dish had a unique presentation and flavor, Tsukishiro kept their soba simple with the standard chewiness and softness you’d expect from a bowl anywhere else.

Later on, I learned that the broth was made of local produce and pork bones. And the joint itself opened in Sept. 2022.

I was glad that the blue cottage exterior led me to have the second eye-opening experience of my day in Nanjo.

Tsukishiro Soba

Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Mon-Wed, Fri); 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Sat, Sun)

*Closed on Thu, and one Friday each month, so call ahead.

GPS Coordinates: N 26.16166, E 127.79597


Niraikanai-bashi Tenbodai (observatory)

My stomach satisfied, I took a 5-minute drive to Niraikanai-bashi Tenbodai (observatory). This location overlooks Niraikanai Bridge curving along the beautiful coastline. The iconic scenery is often quoted by tourist guides and TV commercials as a must-see location.

If you’re driving to this spot, you won’t find parking there. Instead, there is a small space at the foot of the slope leading to the observatory wide enough for a few cars.

After a one-minute walk, I found myself at the observatory, which sits on a tunnel that overlooks Niraikanai Bridge.

Facing east, I could see the bridge running toward the coast drawing big curves, like a snake or a dragon. Somewhere behind the bridge, there should be Sefa Utaki, a famous sacred site, but it was not visible behind the brush.

Further in the distance, I could also see Kudaka Island floating in the ocean, where Amamikyo, a god who is thought to have landed and begun building Ryukyu (Okinawa). The observatory’s name “Niraikanai” refers to a legendary source of life, which the god is believed to have come from. Looking at the locations that became the stages for Okinawa’s legend and myth, I forgot the time for a short while.

Niraikanai-bashi Tenbodai (observatory)

GPS Coordinates: N 26.167464, E 127.815014

Kakinohana Hiija

To close my trip to Nanjo City, I decided to swing by Kakinohana Hiija spring, about a 10-minute drive from the observatory. Selected as one of the 100 meisui (best water) in Japan in 1985, this spot is visited by both locals and tourists who look for clean water and beautiful scenery.

This spring overlooks the southeast coast of the city and can be accessed via either a local residential area above the spring or a hilly road that branches off Route 331 at the bottom of the slope.

I chose the latter and went up the slope going through trees and bushes. The ground was muddy due to water running down the slope here and there.

After about a five-minute walk, I came to an area where paddy fields spread. Here, with no trees to block the view, I could see the beautiful coast shining under the sun. Walking for another five minutes or so, a stream of water running down vertically into a spring came into my sight. The sound of the water felt lulling. Near the spring, I found a middled-aged man taking a nap on a bench. I would have done the same if I had had time. In this calm and peaceful atmosphere, I felt very much rejuvenated.

Kakinohana Hiija

GPS: N 26.147653, E 127.796920 (The south end of the slope that leads up to the spring)

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