Monday, September 19, 2016

Rice Harvest for Sammu Tambo Art This Weekend!

This is the 2015 design.
You'll just have to go out there, eat the kimchi, and see this year's for yourself!
Farmers make good friends, and they make good community members. Nagisa and Tomohito Minowa are no exception, and for the second year in a row they are working with other fantastic members of their town on a tambo (rice field) art project. They are having loads of fun with it, and this weekend's event promises to be one of the best yet. Here is my article about their first project and the other great stuff happening with the Minowa's, Tambo Art, and Soma.

Register quick and then head on out to one of the prettiest and most fun places in Chiba for a great time and amazing lunch. (Try the kimchi. It's seriously the best ever.)

Sammu Tambo Art Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 24th
9am - 3pm
2,000 yen (includes lunch and tons of fun)
Register here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

My Article on Mountain Huts at Metropolis Magazine

Me and Sonbutsu Sansou's professional mouser.
Hiking, whether in Hokkaido, Nagano, or here in our Kanagawa backyard, has been one of our great pleasures since moving to Japan. What makes it extra special here are the mountain huts - yamagoya and sansou - where hikers can stay before returning home or exploring further into the mountains. Read my recommendations for a few within reasonably easy reach of Tokyo, and then head out to to find some fun!

Friday, September 2, 2016

September Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Roos Roast staff cheerful and perhaps caffeinated!
Serving generous cups of their most delicious brews at the Ann Arbor Famers Market.
Ann Arbor, Michigna.
Typhoons come and typhoons go in this blustery month that makes March look like a lamb at best. Don't miss the chance, though, to duck out to one of these great markets and find some of the best the season has to offer. Squash in all shapes and sizes as well as nashi (Japanese pears), grapes galore, and a bounty of vegetables are all just waiting to go home with you and snuggle up in the kitchen. Sound awkward? Don't be silly. It's just plain delicious. 

Sunday, September 25th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun and enjoy!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to be all about the grape. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
No map, but step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b

Saturday, September 17th
A market I spotted while riding the train a few years ago on a Saturday morning into the city center is still going strong. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm

Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!
10am to 5pm

Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th
A brand new market opening this month in Yokohama that looks quite promising. Their Facebook page says the Market of the Sun folks decided to start it up, and it's definitely good. Read my review over in Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine!
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2

Sunday, September 18th
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
**5pm to 8pm
Oiso Port Building

Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out

Every Sunday
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm

Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)

Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Friday, August 5, 2016

August Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Fresh veg at my first US chokubaijo!
Montello, Wisconsin

Summer is upon us in all its hot and humid glory. Pick up ingredients for a cool summer meal or tasty beverage (child-friendly or adult) to help keep things cool. Summer crops - tomatoes, goya, eggplant, cucumbers, and onions - abound, and can be paired with all that fresh garlic that should just be emerging from its long slumber now. Do be careful of odd market dates and times as Obon is upon us. Check websites before you go and enjoy!

Sunday, August 7th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. Come find some good food and fun and enjoy!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Saturday, August 6th**
**Hold on! This month the market is only one day and in a new location. Check out their Facebook page to get directions and see who will be there with what treats!
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to be all about the grape. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market.
9:30am to 5pm
**Lalaporte Tokyo Bay (Here's the link to get you to good veg!)

Saturday, August 20th
A new market I spotted while riding the train a few years ago on a Saturday morning into the city center is still going strong. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm

Saturday, August 20th and Sunday, August 21st
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!
10am to 5pm

Saturday, August 20th and Sunday, August 21st
A brand new market opening this month in Yokohama that looks quite promising. Their Facebook page says the Market of the Sun folks decided to start it up, so it could be good. I'll be visiting to check it out!
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2


Sunday, August 21st**
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
**5pm to 8pm
Oiso Port Building

Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out

Every Sunday
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm

Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)

Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Monday, August 1, 2016

My article on biking the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido at Metropolis

A view along the Shimanami Kaido.
One of our great pastimes since coming to Japan is bike touring. Unlike the flocks of cyclists that whiz along highways and byways here, we wear no spandex aboard sleek road bikes. We ride folding bikes and wear comfortable clothes with our trailers pulled along behind. These tours have been a source of great joy and adventure, even when it rains or the wind blows a bit too strong. Here is a short summary of our wanderings along one of the most glorious bike routes Japan has offered yet. Read all about it over here at Metropolis.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 30th and Sunday, July 31st

The Roppongi Market!
It's hard to believe, but July is drifting away with some sun and an unexpected amount of rain. My tomatoes remain joyous, although I will be away while most of them ripen. Luckily, a friend has agreed to eat them while I'm gone. She may also get the watermelon, but I figure that's only fair. It's better than having it go to waste. The farmer's markets, however, roll on! Don't miss these great regular ones happening this weekend, and remember the Kamakura Farmers Market is actually best during the week!

Every day
A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there.
7am until sold out

Every Sunday
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm

Every Friday
A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask!
10am to 6pm
Look for the tables when you step out the gate!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)

Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Monday, July 25, 2016

My essay in A Cup of Culture and a Pinch of Crisis: Tales from a Small Planet: The Food Edition

Takashi and C-chan Arai on the farm.
I am so very pleased to announce that my essay, "Growing Home in Tokyo", is included in the latest collection of essays from Tales from a Small Planet - A Cup of Culture and a Pinch of Crisis. I wrote, of course, about how I landed on an organic farm in Tokyo and how my years there shaped my experience here. Japan is my second home in great part because of the hours and days spent working side by side with the Arai family. They and their farm are more dear to me than a few paragraphs can express, and that's not even counting all those awesome recipes I learned.

So, please consider buying it or asking your library to buy it. I might mention, too, that it makes a great gift.