Sunshine is an izakaya, a form of Japanese bar with an emphasis on food, located on the main street of Niijima island. They normally open around lunch time, but during peak seasons like summer they open their doors as early as eight in the morning. Sunshine is an izakaya that specializes in dishes that makes use of the fresh ingredients found on Niijima, as well as novelty dishes like basashi, literally horse sashimi. The atmosphere is very friendly, where people regardless of language or race can come and mingle with whomever is there that day and make friends.
Sunshine, located on Niijima’s main street
Just 7 minutes by car from Niijima Port, Izakaya Sunshine opened in 2015 on the main street of Honmura. Practically everyone ends up walking past it. The owner, for whom Niijima is a recently adopted home, renovated the interior of what used to be a store and transformed it to its current state. A music friendly venue, the place comes complete with a DJ booth and guitar. Live bands come to play, and the bustling, welcoming atmosphere at times can inspire a customer to start an impromptu song.
The lunch menu is scribbled onto a blackboard. Both lunch and dinner items change seasonally, and on our visit we picked the Tsumuburi Niijima-don to try. Tsumuburi is a type of fish known in English as rainbow runner, rainbow yellowtail, Spanish jack or Hawaiian salmon. The tsumuburi is marinaded in a marinade with soy sauce base, topped on rice and eaten with a side of Japanese mustard. A delectable dish that is typical of Niijima. While on our trip the fish was tsumuburi, the variety of fish varies from season to season.
The menu may feature a variety of other dishes such as basashi (horse sashimi), a rarity on the island, as well as mentaiko tempura and crisp fried kushi-age. As the menu changes all the time, there is something new to be discovered on every visit.
For the full Niijima experience, we suggest having locally made shochu to accompany your meal.
No need to stress! You can order in English
As the owner once lived in the States, he speaks fluent English. When traveling overseas there’s always the fear of not being able to communicate, but as English is spoken at Sunshine, you needn’t worry about ordering.
Perhaps it’s due to the owner’s character, but it seems people of all backgrounds end up at Sunshine, and by the end of the day it’s as though they are all old friends.
Family, friends, or just someone you met here on the island… whoever it is you are with, Sunshine is the type of place that you’d want to return to every time you’re back on the island. An izakaya offering a true sense of belonging.