I’m just going to start off with two disclaimers:
1. This is the first place where I have lived on my own, therefore the only place I have ever had to shop. So, I don’t have much to compare these stores to in other countries or regions, and
2. From hearing from others, Okinawa organic stores are a bit pricey, mostly due to having to get all that shipped here
While it may be a bit on the pricey end here, it is still worth it. I think it is very valuable (if it is in your availability and price range) to support these types of business with your money when you can. It’s called voting with your dollar.
Okinawa has some amazing hidden gems of organic stores. Most often, people only know of the most popular one here: Green Leaf. And, while it is good, there are actually more options that are closer to Kadena. Some I found by accident just exploring the island. My biggest advice? Don’t be scared to venture out and check out shops you see while you’re out. You never know what you might find.
If you’re still tentative to venture off base, you can find a list of helpful Japanese phrases that can help you feel a bit more confident. I know, it’s scary to speak Japanese to a native. I have been there. BUT, once you do it the first few times, you get more and more confident, and eventually it will feel so natural. The locals are so nice and polite and will always be willing to help from my experience.
Anyway, let’s just jump into my favorite organic stores. After listing my favorites, I will list some honorable mentions as well as a link to a group Google Maps that has an entire list of organic stores.
What I take into consideration when ranking these is access (how close it is to Kadena AB for me personally), selection (fresh, plenty, etc), shopping experience, and waste (does it come in packaging, if so what kind, etc). I will rate all these categories on a scale of 1-10.
I know what I said earlier might have made it seem like this one is overrated. But, it’s not and it is still my favorite. They have an amazing selection to include a tiny bulk section (yay for less waste!) They even have some unique vegan options, crazy snacks, fresh eggs and meat, and even a peanut grinder to make peanut butter! Overall, Green Leaf is the closest thing we have here to a Whole Foods or a bulk store you might see in the US. Green Leaf definitely specializes in food. They even have the only vegan cream cheese on island (though it is $16 a pack)! They have two locations: Chatan and Yomitan, though I have only been to the Yomitan one which also has a café with vegan options!
Hours: 10am-7pm every day
Payment: Yen and Card
Access Rating (from Kadena AB): 9/10
Selection Rating: 8/10 (while this is the largest selection on island, it’s still not the strongest in comparison to other organic stores you might find elsewhere)
Shopping Experience Rating: 9/10 (large parking lot, but the store is relatively small. Additionally, reading Japanese labels can be tricky)
Waste Rating: 8/10 (very happy to let me use my own bags, though it takes a bit of explaining to understand that I wanted to use my own bag for bulk lentils. A lot of the packaging available is easily recyclable, though some it not)
Yeah, this one has a pretty similar name. When you type it into Google Maps, though, it will come up like this: オーガニック食品専門店 マクロビオティックシードリーフ沖縄. This basically just says something like “organic goods, macrobiotic seed leaf Okinawa.”
I love this little hidden gem. On one of our last adventures, before COVID-19 shut the base down, we ventured out to a few organic/natural stores and found this lovely store. It is very easy to get to, but the parking lot is hard to spot. You might have to circle around a couple of times in order to find it, but once you find the lot, it’s easy. Their selection is not as broad, but still has a lot of great options including chocolates, drinks, cups and bowls, and even organic clothing!
Hours: M-Th, 9am-1pm/F, 9am-5pm/CLOSED Saturday and Sunday
Payment: Yen and Card
Access Rating (from Kadena AB): 10/10 (super close to base)
Selection Rating: 7/10 (though they have more household items, the food is not as wide of a selection)
Shopping Experience: 8/10 (the parking lot is hard to find but large once you find it. The store is a bit small we well)
Waste Rating: 6/10 (some items in non-recyclable packing, some items in recyclable packaging, nothing was unpackaged)
Roger’s Food Market
I have only been to Rogers once, but it was so much fun! It reminded me a bit of Jungle Jims (if you’re from SW Ohio, you know). This complex seemed like a whole shopping center, but if you park by the road, walk up the ramp, Rogers will be on the right. It is such a cute little shop with old-timey “ye olde shoppe” vibes on the outside. Inside it is very modern. They have a wide variety of items: teas, coffees, household items, curries, fruit & veg, meat, alcohol, and even a restaurant! I am not sure if it is entirely organic, though. Compared to some of the other stores, I’d say Rogers is the priciest, but at the same time, the most fun and enjoyable. We didn’t get much here, just some accidentally vegan maple cookies, but I would love to go back to try some teas or curry sauces.
Hours: 10am-9pm everyday
Payment: Yen and Card
Access Rating (from Kadena AB): 10/10 (super close to Kadena)
Selection Rating: 9/10 (a lot of items in a wide variety. I am marking down for price because you can find a lot of the items, especially produce, cheaper elsewhere)
Shopping Experience: 9/10 (easy to find, lots of parking, lots of room inside, and a lot of fun. Again, marking down for price)
Waste Rating: 6/10 (some items in non-recyclable packing, some items in recyclable packaging, nothing was unpackaged, even produce)
I have been to a few more hole-in-the-wall type organic shops that I just stumble upon. Unfortunately, I can no longer find them on Google Maps. I will list a few other shops I have been wanting to check out:
Organic Shop: 玄米カフェ
Natural Food and Snack Mana
Finally, here is a link to the Okinawa Farmers Markets Google Maps. Here, you can find:
Specialty Food Stores (eggs, honey, organic stores, etc)
Japanese Grocery Stores
This link is super helpful for finding the stores!
Again, don’t be afraid to shop off base. It is usually cheaper (at least for produce), fresher, locally grown, and a lot of it is also organic! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them. You can find me on Instagram for a quicker reply. And, don’t forget to learn a few basic Japanese phrases to help you get by.
I hope this helps and I hope you enjoy your time in Okinawa. Whether you are just passing through or you live here for several years.