Beyond Henza Island and Miyagi Island lies Ikei Island,
otherwise known as “Ichihanari” (farthest away). When we heard that the sugar filled,
golden colored “Ougon(golden) Potato” was being harvested on Ichihanari,
we immediately set out to for a glimpse of their harvest.
As you head towards the center of the island,
the rustic view of rice paddies spreads out before you.
It seems that the island’s flat, sprawling terrain
and long sunny days make it suitable to cultivate Ougon(Golden) Potatoes.
Outside, potato farmer Mr. Tomohiro Murata digs his field with a hoe.
The seeds are planted in July, then the potatoes are carefully dug up during harvest season.
You can tell they’re ready to harvest when their lush green leaves have begun to fade slightly.
After the seeds are planted, they grow for four to five months (if planted in summer)
or five to six months (if planted in winter) in the dirt, awaiting harvest.
The first step of the harvest is to carefully scoop the dirt deep from both sides
of the potato so as not to damage it, and when you finally catch sight of one,
dig beneath and pull it straight from the dirt.
Mr. Murata cultivates his golden potatoes with love,
along with his mother and father. From the outside they look like ordinary sweet potatoes,
but their insides are bursting with an amazing golden color.
“Making the dirt is the most important,” laughes Mr.Murata.
You can tell alot about his personality just from his smile.
Before, he worked as a buisness man in Tokyo, but when his parents, fascinated by golden potatoes,
moved back to his mother’s hometown of Uruma City to begin farming four years ago,
he visited Ikei Island to stay with them for only half a year.
However, it’s now been over two years since he moved to Okinawa!
“The hardest part about growing Golden Potatoes is pest control.
Okinawa has several indigenous insects that eat the potatoes from the stems or the dirt.
There’s even greater damage to the potatoes during dry days in the rainy seasons, so that’s difficult too…”
It’s because the farmers put so much energy and care into their crops that the Potatoes taste delicious.
“We don’t use chemical fertilizer in our crops– we just work hard to use all natural dirt,
and thanks to that we’re able to produce deliciously sweet potatoes.
We want to produce potatoes so famous that when people think of Okinawa,
they think of Golden Potatoes.” Like a true farmer,
Mr.Murata has a clear image of the produce he wants to be growing in the future.
These potatoes are so sweet, they are estimated to have a 20~23% sugar content.
Hoping to share this delicious, natural sweet far and wide,
the Murata’s have opened their own “Golden Tea House” in Uruma City.
This specialty Golden Potatoes Smoothie designed by Mr. Tomohiro is made
from golden potatoe blended with yogurt, Hokkaido grown soy beans, and local sugar cane.
The acidity of the yogurt cuts through the sweet flavours of the golden potatoe,
giving this snack a balanced flavour. It’s perfect for hot, summer weather.
The owner chooses all of the ingredients carefully,
saying “I wanted to create a dish I would feed to my kids, so I don’t use any preservatives.”
Golden Tea House
Location / 1860-1 Yonashiroteruma, Uruma, Okinawa 904-2301
Telephone／080-9242-9604 (Only in use during buisness hours)http://www.ougonchaya.com/