Okinawa Salt Factory
Okinawa does not have a raging economy due to its limited ability to manufacture and export large quantities of goods like other areas of the world. However, that is not to say that Okinawans have nothing. They grow sugarcane, blow glass, sculpt pottery, and make salt to name a few businesses on the island. We ventured out to the Nuchi Masu salt factory to see whether it was “worth its salt” as they say. The factory is perched atop a rock face on Miyagi island, a small island connected by bridge to Okinawa. The factory pulls seawater from the Pacific Ocean into the factory and sprays it through a special fan system. The water dries in mid-air and the remaining salt falls to the floor like snow. Unlike common salt which is simply NaCl, The makers of Okinawa sea salt claim many health benefits due to its 21 minerals and elevated concentration of magnesium and potassium. According to the lab analysis printed in their brochure only 73.3 grams of a 100 gram sample is NaCl, which has led them, according to their brochure, to winning multiple awards and prizes for their salt including a spot in the Guinness World Record book. While there, we could look into the salt drying room that appears to be covered with “snow” as well as the ability to peer through skylights into their lab and packaging rooms. It was a pretty short tour, but worth the stop while we were out exploring the small islands connected to Okinawa by bridge.
4th of July
In celebration of Uncle Sam’s birthday, the Marine Corps held a two-day festival open to all US military on the island. This was a welcome relief as we start to emerge from Corona virus restrictions of the past year. We tried some Japanese yakisoba noodles, had the traditional American burgers and hot dogs, snow cones, and even had some barbeque brisket to round out our culinary samplings. They were all delicious! The kids got to ride, bounce, swing, and jump through kiddy land rides and we met up with some neighborhood friends for a while as we walked through the festival. While we were there it came time for retreat to be played and the American flag to be lowered for the evening. While I have been in the military now for over three years, this is our first time living on base and spending so much time on base. Pie, our oldest child, was stunned when the bustling crowd of a few thousand people came to a complete halt and all faced the trumpet music with patriotic reverence. While retreat is played nightly on base, to see an entire festival come to a complete standstill within mere seconds was impressive.
We elected to make a strategic exit prior to the fireworks because we knew we could see them from our own base, and by leaving before the fireworks we would avoid all the traffic congestion after fireworks. The weekend was dry, but hot. We all got a bit pink from the sun (a welcome change from the near-constant rain over the past few weeks), but nobody really burned. We watched the 20 minute fireworks show from our lawn chairs at the top of a hill overlooking the military housing community in which we live. Being stationed overseas it is also interesting to see the divergence of Americans from the Japanese. For the Americans it is a major federal holiday. For the Japanese, it is just another weekend. The people-watcher in me noted the difference in activities between these two groups.
On Sunday of the long weekend we attended a backyard cookout hosted by another family in our neighborhood. We enjoyed a mix of American and Filipino food and some good company. The night was topped off by the kids swimming in inflatable pools, playing with squirt guns, waving sparklers, and watching an outdoor movie projected on the side of a house. We were treated to a second night of fireworks, this time from a different military base in the area. Heather and I concluded that we really did pick our housing option pretty well for this tour as we love our military housing community.