Friday, May 26, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28

Candy sweet these tomotos were.
(Apparently, so sweet I turned into Yoda for a moment there.)

Don't let the rain forecast for the end of the week dampen hopes of hitting one of the great markets on schedule! Head on for the Earth Day Market double-hitter or one of the great weekly ones that never fail to satisfy. Seedlings are, most likely, still available, and I daresay early tomatoes may also be available. Head on out and have some foodly fun!

Earth Day Market

Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
*Double feature in the usual location!!
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Japan

A little roadside show-off in Yamanakako.

Our latest biking-camping trip took us to Yamanakako, one of the Fuji Five Lakes we'd not been to yet, and it did not disappoint. Great camping with friendly folks, good food, beautiful hiking, and some of extraordinary scenery were all to be had. (Drop a note if you want some camping and eating recommendations.)

On our way back from a hike, I spotted this little guy - Jack-in-the-pulpit -  near the side of the rode. Well-known as a wild plant in North America, they are not at all unusual here in Japan. Here, though, they tend to take on a more dramatic look - deep purple hoods with stripes and a formidable looking stem - than those I recall at home. Still, it's nice to see a somewhat familiar face when I'm out for a walk.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21

Selection galore at the UNU Market.

Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! If you hanker after fresh seasonal food, this is your big chance to hit up some of the best around. Many, too, offer seedlings this time of year as well as sansai (mountain vegetables). Don't miss the chance to savor what is most delicious this time of year!

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, May 21
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, May 21
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets make an appearance.

Awhile back I mentioned some beet seeds that had not yet sprouted. I worried at that time about my soil, the foundation of my garden and all it produces. Was there something lurking there that I needed to know about? Would I ever see the beets of my dreams?

Above is a photo of the beets recently harvested. Imperfect but deliciously beautiful, we have since enjoyed them in salad or raw and dipped in the husband's famous miso mix. My soil, it seems, is not in such bad shape, although I still pay attention to what is happening there. As a good citizen gardener, it's the least I can do these days.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tambo Art: Help Plant a Painting

Planting rice during the Soma Tambo Art Project.

If there is one thing that is worth experiencing in Japan, it is planting rice by hand. There is nothing so exciting, exhilarating or wonderful as stepping into a rice field, seedlings in hand, and setting them in the soft, silty soil. I know I'm a farmer and all that, but rice, it's planting, harvest, eating, and by-products are integral to Japanese culture. A staple part of the Japanese diet, nuka (the bran from polishing rice) is used to ferment vegetables for pickles and help feed the soil of rice fields. Momigara (rice hulls) makes an excellent mulch for fields or compost ingredient. Wara (rice straw) is an important source of silica for rice fields, is part of the traditional process for making natto, and is another excellent mulch for fields as well as a material for weaving.

Most farmers don't plant by hand any more, but for events like the Tambo Art Projects in Chiba and Fukushima, it is a chance to glimpse, however briefly, the way rural communities used to work. It is also a chance to get dirty, eat good food in the company of excellent folks, and explore parts of the country that don't make it into travel guides.

There is still time to register for and sink your toes in the mud in Chiba this weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14

Rockin' times at the UNU Market!

Busy times, indeed! My garden is bursting and the markets are bustling. I'm heading up to Soma to help plant their Tambo Art field and contemplating a trip to Chiba next weekend to do the same in Sammu. As I said to someone recently, all the good stuff happens at once. Regardless, don't miss the chance to head on out to one of these great markets and see what the season has in store. It is meant to be a bit rainy, but it means less competition at the market tables and an extra veg wash!
Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old, Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche), professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Eurasian Jay


Eurasian Jay at Yamanakako making the serious face.

One of the great highlights of our trips home to North America are the birds. I miss the brilliant colors of cardinals and blue jays, in particular, along with the song of the red-winged blackbird. I take every moment possible to go for walks in the woods or pause when I am out and about to see if I can catch a glimpse of them.

During our recent biking-camping trip to Yamanakako, we spotted a Eurasian Jay and friend hopping about in the woods. Large and striking in terms of color, we stood and watched as they foraged and flew for some time. They also posed nicely for a photo or two. Granted, we don't know exactly which branch of the family we met, but we feel pleased to have made their acquaintance.