Yakushima Time

Ryoji Shiba / Shiba Tofu shop

Nagata, Ryoji Shiba’s hometown, is located on Yakushima’s northwest coast. This is a beautiful town that looks up at the 1886-meter Nagata peak, the second highest mountain on the island. (The tallest is Miyanoura at 1936 meters.) Nagata is known for its beaches where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. Mr. Shiba’s childhood home, the original Shiba Tofu shop, was located on the main road. Now the shop is on a hill, a short distance from the town. The tofu made here is firm and popular with tourists who say it is “delicious.”
 

Mr. Shiba inherited the tofu shop and is its third owner. He left Yakushima to go to high school, and later worked as a firefighter in Aichi prefecture (on the island of Honshu). But Mr. Shiba’s life changed when he was 55 years old. The tofu shop, initially run by his parents, was taken over by his older sister and her husband at first. However, when they grew old, Mr. Shiba decided “I’ll give the job a try. After all, I was raised by a tofu maker!” Three years have passed since Mr. Shiba came back home.
 

The shop is new, but the taste of the tofu remains the same. A secret of its good flavor is apparently the water here in Nagata. One of the tofu’s ingredients is rich water that once moistened the mountains and forests of a world natural heritage. Mr. Shiba and his wife only make 200 blocks a day because it’s just the two of them. Their tofu is also available in the island’s supermarkets, but freshly made tofu can only be eaten here in the shop. And when the tofu sells out, the shop closes.
 

Young guests often enjoy their tofu with a topping of the deep-fried tofu chips that are native to Aichi prefecture. (as seen in the small bowl on the upper left)

And the Shibas also recommend three other ways to eat tofu:
as is, without any seasoning
with sea salt also made in Nagata
with the sweet soy sauce made in Kagoshima prefecture

Mr. Shiba enjoys watching Yakushima’s scenery change from season to season. He says, “I want to continue providing this tofu to my fellow islanders for as long as I can.”


Mr. Shiba and his wife work well together.

[Menu]
One block of tofu (take out): 150 yen
(in the store): 200 yen
One bag of okara: 50 yen
Tofu chips: 400 yen

[Business hours]
Open: Monday-Saturday (8:00am-until the tofu sells out)
Closed: Sunday and national holidays

Shiba Tofu Shop
Tel: 0997-45-2048