Swedish emigrant to Kumejima turns Okinawan old house into North European restaurant

Swedish emigrant to Kumejima turns Okinawan old house into North European restaurant

Anna Edberg smiling with her freshly baked cookies.

July 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

A Swedish restaurant named “SMAKAKA (Småkaka)” opened in Kadekaru, Kume-jima this April, providing a space for the community to socialize. The owner is 53-year old Anna Edberg who moved to the island from Sweden. Local women provide assistance at the restaurant to support Edberg, who is not very fluent in Japanese. Customers not only enjoy the meals but also engaging in conversations with her in English. The restaurant is packed with visitors. Edberg is from Gothenburg in Sweden, where she has worked as a chef and as a manager overseeing hundreds of employees. Her son, who was studying at a university in Japan, married a Japanese woman in 2014. When she visited Zamami village with them, she was fascinated by the ocean around Okinawa. Edberg came up with the idea to open her own restaurant on a neighboring island of Okinawa and purchased an old house in Kume-jima. She visited the island three times from Sweden before relocating there, and remodeled a part of the house into a North-European styled restaurant.

The restaurant is well known for its daily lunch menu. Edberg uses many vegetables and bakes her own bread and cookies. She also uses herbs and vegetables grown in her own garden. She said that although her dishes take a long time to prepare, they are considered good for health in Sweden.

The restaurant has taken on four local women who lend a hand with customer service as volunteers. Forty-eight-year old Tami Yohena, who started assisting the restaurant because she wanted to learn English, said, “Helping the restaurant opens up my worldview as well. I hope Anna-san will enjoy life on the island as much as possible.”

Edberg said that the people of Kumejima are curious and very friendly. She smiled and went on to say that she likes adventures and will continue the restaurant for three years, and then considers future plans after that. She also said that she hopes the restaurant can be like a community space where people gather.

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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