This past weekend we visited a friend's place near Ichinomiya in Chiba. About an hour south of Tokyo we were near enough to the ocean to smell the salt air, and rural enough to be surrounded (almost literally) by rice fields. As we prepared to head out for a day of surfing and beach-combing, we heard a motorbike in the driveway and a voice calling out.
Leaving our breakfast on the table, we went out to the driveway to find Miyamoto-san parking her bike, talking a mile and a minute, and chuckling all the while. Our host reported that whenever she sees the car, she stops knowing the family often can't resist her fresh-picked wares. This morning the front and back baskets of her motorbike showcased early tomatoes, potatoes, and big bags of beautiful rice.
Cruising all the way over from her farm on the other side of the station (a good 15 minute ride, at least) Miyamoto-san peddles her vegetables around to the summer homes in the area. When her grandmother died, she moved to the farm to help her grandfather and never left. Anywhere from 60 to 100, it's anybody's guess as to when that actually was.
As usual, Miyamoto-san's hunch was right on. Within moments we snapped up the tomatoes (so juicy we ate them leaning over the sink) and (to some degree against our better judgement) one of the five kilogram bags of rice. Seriously, who can resist locally grown rice delivered on scooter by a little old lady farmer? Not this yasai otaku, that's for sure!