This is a farmer’s stand. I am sure that it has a specific name in Japanese but for all intents and purposes I assume that “farmer’s stand” will do the job just fine. They are more common in some parts of Okinawa then others which can make them a rare sight but they are out there nonetheless.
What do they look like?
It’s pretty easy to know that you’ve stumbled upon one of these farmers stands because they all share some basic characteristics. Generally speaking these stands are made of wood (at least all the ones I’ve seen), have a cover to protect from the elements and have at least two shelves. They are also usually located on the side of the street making it easy for passers by to check out what they have to offer. Finally you’ll notice some type of locked container with a slot in it. In each stand you could see any number of veggies or even fruit which is grown in the immediate area. I have seen kabocha (or what you might know as Japanese Pumpkin), mikans, cabbage, eggplant and more. Sometimes the produce is in a basket like in the picture above or other times it might just be on the stand itself.
How do I buy something?
Buying something from one of these stands is relatively easy. If you happen to see something you like or that would make a great addition to tonight’s dinner table go right up and take a look. There may be price tags on each item itself or you may see a large sign with a price above the stand itself indicating that everything in the stand comes with a price tag of “X” number of yen. Once you know what it is you want put the appropriate amount of yen in the slot and that’s it. . . you’re done.
It’s important to note that you obviously cannot get change which is why in many cases the prices are in the one coin range (¥500, ¥100). You also don’t want to pay with anything other than yen.
There are some who say that it’s also common courtesy to say “Arigatou” out loud so that the person who the stand belongs to can hear that you have made a purchase. I think that this is a great idea although you may find that this is best suited for stands which are closer to a person’s residence rather then ones like what was pictured above and surrounded by nothing but fields.
How is the quality?
You can expect pretty decent quality when purchasing something from one of these stands. In the past few months alone I have passed by a few of them and although I did not make purchases at all of them I did take a close look to see what was available and it all looked really good. I can honestly say that if I was living in an area where there was one of these stands down the road I would take the time to see what they had every day and work those items into the menu. You also can’t beat the price either!
Where are they?
Unfortunately for people like me who live in the city these stands are usually found tucked away in the farm lands of Okinawa. I have seen a few just outside the major cities but have yet to find any in the south central area. You’re more likely to find these types of stands in the more north and south ends of the island where the cities have some space in between for farmers to do what they do best. You can also find stands like this on some of Okinawa’s smaller islands which can be accessed via car.