Skip to main content

Aizu Wakamatsu Farmer's Market

A couple of weeks ago we spent a whirlwind weekend in Aizu Wakamatsu. Located in Fukushima Prefecture, the city is steeped in fascinating history and heaps of good food. Well west of the ailing nuclear power plant, the city like so many others in that prefecture, has seen a dramatic drop in domestic as well as foreign tourists due to the taint of radiation. Hoping to lift that shadow and rebuild trust with visitors far and wide, the city invited us and ten other foreigners to spend some time.

My favorite, of course, was the farmer's market. Aizu Wakamatsu is part of the bread basket that is Tohoku - the region filling the north and east of Japan's main island and where the March 11th earthquake and tsunami did the most damage - so it stood to reason there would be a market of some size somewhere in the city. A quick question at Tourist Information in the station got us a map, a location, and off we pedaled on our rented bikes.

Looking for all the world like a standard supermarket, the interior bustled with customers picking and choosing from some of the best the season had to offer as well as an assortment of traditional pickles, seven varieties of rice (polished on the spot, too!), soba in many forms, and more. I could have spent all day there, but the rest of the city beckoned. We did manage to come away with a fair number of items: brown rice, soba grain (like the buckwheat we ate in Kazakhstan), puffed soba, some groovy beans, as well as a recipe or two. I can't wait to go back.

Finally, here's the video for a quick tour. Enjoy!


Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Kamakura Farmers Market: Giant Buddhas and Good Vegetables

Kamakura Farmers Market entrance A little more than an hour train ride south of Tokyo sits Kamakura. Like Kyoto and Nara, Kamakura is a former capital full to the brim with temples, shrines, and a bounty of historical sites lining its winding streets. Nestled in a cozy bay with beaches and a giant Buddha tucked amongst the rest, it's a city that invites multiple visits if not at least one. And those seeking a farmers market well-stocked with traditional vegetables, skilled growers ready to share recipes and chat about their wares, along with some nifty prepared foods to rejuvenate themselves after so many temples surely won't be disappointed, either. Kamakura Farmers Market - right side full of signs Started nearly twenty years ago, the Kamakura Farmers Market or Kamakurasui Nyogyou Rensokubaijo, runs seven days a week nearly year-round. A ten-minute walk from the station, the market is located in what at first glance looks like nothing so much as a run-down w

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l