Healing Body and Soul
Discovering the healthful powers of vegan and raw cuisine in Okinawa
People visiting Okinawa often feel healed. With its relaxed pace of life, kind people, pristine nature and timeless traditions, the prefecture is filled with an atmosphere that touches hearts and soothes them.
Okinawa also has a venerable food culture based on the philosophy that “medicine and food share the same root,” which has attracted countless tourists to visit its islands. Thanks to the wide range of agricultural products grown there, Okinawa is an excellent place to enjoy vegan and raw food. In recent years, many prominent professionals from the world of healthy food have come to work in Okinawa to connect with the prefecture’s cultural and culinary traditions. Mimi Saida, head of the Japan Vegan Society Okinawa Branch, is a leading figure in this trend.
Saida did a full course of study at Living Light Culinary Art Institute in California, a renowned raw food school, and worked as a food instructor there. Through these experiences, she has learned how to prepare and present vegan and raw food that is both beautiful and delicious.
Simply put, raw food is the practice of eating unheated, natural ingredients, which leaves nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants untouched. Ingredients can be “cooked” using novel techniques, such as dehydrating at 48°C or lower to achieve flavors and textures unlike any raw food. For example, Saida’s mushroom appetizer mixed with nuts, garlic and various spices tastes much like a pâté. Every dish she makes is an unprecedented culinary experience.
Based in Okinawa for six years, Saida produces concept cafés and hotel menus and actively engages in a wide range of activities, including the operation of raw food schools and tours of vegan stores and farms in Okinawa that use natural growing methods.
One destination where you can enjoy Saida’s cuisine while also treating yourself to luxurious spa treatments are the villas at Halekulani Okinawa. The five exclusive villas overlooking the ocean below come with private warm-water pools and natural hot springs, offering supreme relaxation amidst the peaceful flow of time.
Menus are customized exclusively for each guest at SpaHalekulani. Treatments feature Okinawa’s traditional ingredients, cutting-edge techniques and massages that will relax body and soul, and serve as a perfect complement to the island’s healthy cuisine.
Saida advises many restaurants and hotels with their menus. These are a few places where you can enjoy her culinary influence.
2662-2 Maeda, Kunigami-gun, Onna-son, Okinawa 904-0417
A completely vegan and gluten-free izakaya. There are plenty of alcoholic beverages available that go well with the variety of vegan dishes. Enjoy the raw roasted pizza and roasted cake that Saida developed.
EM Wellness Kurashinohakko Lifestyle Resort
1478 Kisyaba, Nakagami-gun, Kitanakagusuku-son, Okinawa 901-2311
A hotel where Saida serves as vegan advisor. The buffet and bar feature vegan food as well as organic and vegan wines. Reservations for beautiful kaiseki meals are available.
1868 Toguchi, Nakagami-gun, Kitanakagusuku-son, Okinawa 901-2302
A restaurant that specializes in vegan burgers and uses vegan patties developed by Saida. Some call them the safest and tastiest hamburgers in the world.