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Showing posts from July, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: July 28 and July 29

Hiroto Matsufuji at the July Earth Day Market! Summer has officially arrived in Japan, and here in Tokyo it's really hot. I'm already day-dreaming about our upcoming trip to Hokkaido  and the resulting cooler temperatures. Meanwhile, I'll savor the heat-loving vegetables here in the middle of the country, distract myself by meeting some cool farmer-types, and do more than a little eating. See you out there! Gyre Market Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y. 11am to 5pm Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in July A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, the curry I had during my last visit from one of the vendors was plate-licking good. (I refrained, but only just.) 10am to 4pm

A Guide to Buying Food in Japan: Learn How to Not be Afraid

Wakame - big, green, and delicious! As someone who regularly visits farmers markets here in Japan, eats at an inordinate number of local izakayas and ramen shops , and works at an organic farm in Tokyo, I meet any number of new foods on a regular basis. Sometimes, when presented with an object that looks entirely unfamiliar with a smell I normally associate with food gone bad (think of the oh-so-slimy and so-good-for-you fermented soy beans called natto ) I shy away. It's a natural instinct to be slightly afraid of what we don't know. After all, it is one of the ways species survive. If it's unknown, it might kill you or help you. How to decide? Carolyn R. Krouse's A Guide to Food Buying in Japan is one way to begin learning about the food around us and make tentative forays into the unknown. It's short and sweet, and a great springboard for shopping, eating, or just general wandering on the shotengai (shopping street). Read my full review over at eco+waz

Tsurumurasaki: A Funky Leafy Vegetable from Japan

During our first year in Japan during a trip to Brown's Fields I met my first farmer-surfer. Ioyori-san moved from Tokyo to Chiba to be closer to the ocean and be able to farm. (She's since moved much further south, though.) I asked her what she was growing, and her long list included a plant I didn't know: tsuru murasaki. She described it in detail, drew pictures, and told me how to cook it. I was fascinated and made a note to ask about it when I got back to the farm in Tokyo . Ioryi-san and I traded business cards, and drifted off to eat and tour the area. Later as we took our last photos of mulberry trees and rice fields and contemplated the long train ride home, Ioryi-san pulled up in her car and dashed over to us with a small plastic bag. Inside were two seedlings of tsuru murasaki. "Try it and see what you think," she said. Kept in pots on the balcony, those two little seedlings were felled by the double-whammy of a Tokyo summer and the neglect t

Tokyo Farmers Markets: July 21st and July 22nd

Kamakura Farmers Market potato bonanza! A very nice selection of markets this weekend awaits shoppers ready to brave whatever summer weather there is in store. Zucchinis will be coming to a close soon, so if those are a favorite you should consider heading out. Sweet peppers should be just coming onto the scene, and favorites such as tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers should still be going strong. Rumor has it that miyoga, moraheya, and a few other delightful vegetables should soon be arriving, too, but not just yet. The first few leaves of tsuru-murasaki, though, may be appearing, and that's something worth celebrating in itself. See you there! Nippori Farmer's Market Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22 10am to 5pm Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. My first visit was wonderful despite cold temperatures and a smattering of rain. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so

Sakaemura at the UN University Farmers Market

Kanako Watanabe and Kaoru Kimura at the Sakae Mura table. The farmers market at the United Nations University is easily one of the biggest affairs of its kind in Tokyo. A two-day extravaganza of food, food products, and a few other miscellaneous items it could be likened to a miniature festival celebrating Japan's food traditions that just happens to take place every weekend. (This coming weekend, by the way, is the monthly night market . A unique innovation in terms of farmers markets, it promises cool evening breezes, good food and good food shopping, along with a little music. I'd recommend planning an outing now, in fact.) Each time I go I meet farmers growing good things and doing good work from all over. It's terribly inspiring and satisfying. This past weekend, though, found me searching out one particular booth. Kevin and Tomoe, our friends over at One Life Japan , mentioned their village sponsored a table there where Tomoe's most yummy bread would be f

Tokyo Farmers Markets: July 14 and 15

Paradise Alley bread, Kamakura Market The heat is certainly on along with the humidity, and that means vegetables galore. Grab a copy of Carol Krouse's food buying guide , a shopping bag, and hit the road. While I love winter in Japan for the heaps of greens and yummy root vegetables (and the cooler temperatures!), summer is no slouch, either. Head off on a culinary expedition and see what you can find! Ebisu Market Sunday, July 15 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for introducing me to dried natto and  tea seedpods . Map Gyre Market Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y. 11am to 5pm Map UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in July A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a var

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

Tokyo Farmers Markets: July

A Kamakura farmer with most delicious salad squash! Summer's heat is settling in and that means tomatoes , cucumbers , summer squash ( zucchini and friends!), green beans , and eggplant galore. Throw in a bit of miyoga (a soft-flavored Japanese ginger) and you've got all the makings for a cold soup to satisfy any appetite on a hot day. Seriously, what are you waiting for? SUN Grocery in Shinjuku Saturday, July 7 11am to 3pm A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers. Map Ebisu Market Sunday, July 1 and Sunday, July 15 11am to 5pm A nice sized market held on the terrace just in front of Ebisu Garden Place that will always be special to me for introducing me to dried natto and  tea seedpods . Map Gyre Market Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29 A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo'

Oops! Magazine: A Few Ditties Here and There

Tamagawajousui Path Hydrangea The past few months I've had the great pleasure of writing for Oops! Magazine in Vancouver . A bi-monthly publication targeted to the Japanese population there, the magazine covers a wide variety of topics from the arts to food to news. My stint writing the column "From Japan" gave me the chance to focus on some of the little things I've observed since moving here just over four years ago including ekiben (train station bentos that vary by region and city), little gardens , laundry ,  a bit about ramen , and more. They're all short pieces, but have a look around to see what you think.