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Showing posts from August, 2012

Tokyo Farmers Markets: September

Tasty and beautiful Yamanashi jams at the UNU Market. Like August , September promises a fair bit of heat to Tokyo. The days are slowly shortening, and that means cooler temperatures are on the way. It also means the occasional typhoon will roll through, too, just to keep things interesting. An umbrella for sun or shade might be a good accessory choice this month. Keep in mind, also, that schedules remain a bit wonky due to summer holidays. Read carefully, please! Meanwhile, I'm on vacation again for a couple weeks. Last year it was England , and this year it's China! We'll be exploring Beijing, spending time with friends, and eating ourselves silly. And, of course, I'll be looking for farmers markets .  How can I not? SUN Grocery in Shinjuku Saturday, September 1st 11am to 3pm A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers. Map Earth Day Market Sunday, Septemb

Redefining Sustainability: An Interview with the Ekberg's at Eco+Waza

Inspiration to bloom It was my pleasure to interview Peo and Satoko Ekberg about their home remodeling project , and discover how they brought their philosophy to life . It's something we all talk about and think about all the time, so it's always interesting to hear and see how others decide to put it into action. Sharing ideas and information is a good place to start to begin making a difference.

Tokyo Farmers Market Outing!

A sampling of the farmers you'll meet at the Earth Day Market! It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally planning a little outing to the September 23rd Earth Day Market in Yoyogi Park. September's Earth Day Market promises to be as good as usual with its fantastic selection of organic and fair trade items with the addition of a ceramic art fair. Nothing wrong with a pretty bowl to serve up those fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, I always say! Earth Day Market Outing Details Sunday, September 23rd 10am - 2pm Where: Meet on the bridge to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park at 10am. (I'll have something distinct, like a red umbrella, with me so you can find me.) We'll walk over to the market where I'll offer a brief overview of vendors and produce, and then let you loose. I'll be on hand to help answer questions about various items, too. Surely, though, the vendors friendly faces and great products will speak for themselves. Lunch: Plan to b

Tokyo Farmers Markets: August 25th and 26th

Hirota brothers of GNS at UNU Market with tons of cool, organic grains! This weekend there are markets, but the pickings may be a wee bit slim given the Obon Holidays. Many people will be gathering with family or traveling to gather with family during this time, so be prepared for a smaller number of vendors at some markets. For our part, we'll be at my farm's annual barbecue whooping it up with friends and enjoying a local round of fireworks! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday in August 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 Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday in August A first  visit to this market  was well worth the trek for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the track

Tasty Treats: Ivan Ramen Review at Japan Tourist

Ivan Ramen - the sign says it all, really. I can honestly say that before coming to Japan I had no idea that ramen was anything other than freeze dried noodles that came with a spice packet. I ate it occasionally in college, and that was about it. It left no lasting impression, except I did manage to ruin a hot pot making it in my dorm room. At least the fire alarm didn't go off. We did that once. Don't ask. Since arriving here a little less than four years ago now, I've become something of a regular ramen eater. I'm no expert, but I've learned a thing or two as my husband has become a fairly major fan of the stuff. Mostly, I know what I like and what I don't like, and I'm getting a feel for what works and what doesn't. Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen has most likely forgotten more than most of us will ever know about this particular Japanese dish. My husband and I made a first journey to his shop during our early days here via a New York Times articl

Guest Post: Pop-Up Cardboard Garden

Amber Dohrenwend is a teacher, mother, and author of the Tokyo-based blog, The Cardboard Collective . She designs modern cardboard toys, furniture, tools, and playthings that can be recycled at the end of their life/use. Recently she used a cardboard box outfitted with castor wheels  to transport her children through the Detroit Metro airport in lieu of a stroller.  Cardboard is a material we keep re-imagining she says, using cardboard for gardening just goes to show that cardboard has no limits. Amber also kindly agreed to allow me to repost this lovely little homemade gardening ditty here while I'm toodling about in Hokkaido.  It's a brilliant idea that I thought well worth sharing. Read on, check out her blog , and you'll never see your recycling in the same way again. Mottainai , indeed!   Electra has had her cardboard garden for a month and a half now, and seeing that the cardboard is still in great shape after 6 weeks of rain, watering and sunshine, I though

Tokyo Farmers Markets: August 18th and 19th

Ishimori-san and her amazing pickles at the UNU Market! The challenge for this weekend is deciding which great market to go to. Ebisu to Nippori to the UN University Night Market to Koenji's little set of stalls shoppers will find unique offerings in a great atmosphere. Maybe flip a coin? Or go a little crazy and try one on Saturday and another on Sunday? Really, the possibilities are endless! Ebisu Market Sunday, August 19 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 Nippori Farmer's Market Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 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 come on out to be pa

Cucumber Delight: Reprise

I'm pedaling and hiking about in Hokkaido while this old favorite of mine, courtesy of Kitchen Garden Japan , goes live. The cucumbers at our farm are well done, but I know there are still plenty to be had at farmers markets across the city and beyond. And surely it's still hot enough to warrant a chilled dish served up with a cold glass of something! A cold beer and cold cukes: a masterpiece from Kitchen Garden Japan. It's been way too hot to cook and salads suffer from a lack of garden greens. Our  new favorite dish of green beans  is fast and easy, and thankfully  the tomatoes  are at last making it to the table to add a fancy dash of color and taste. Cucumbers are in full swing as well, and seem to be nearly taking over just about  every vegetable stand in the area . I usually serve them straight up or with miso for dipping. Well, thanks to  Kitchen Garden Japan  (KGJ) and  this nifty little recipe  we've just added another dish to our standa

Guest Post: Foraging for Summer Fruit

While I'm biking around Hokkaido this month, Van Waffle, a Canadian writer, blogger, and food-foraging-fun-guy, agreed to share some of his favorite seasonal fruit hunting. If you like this, check out his earlier post on the natural beauty of Guelph's two rivers . Better yet, cruise on over to his blog, Speed River Journal , for more recipes, reflections, and all around good writing! Enjoy! Rose hip jam ready for toast! My favorite seasonal foods are summer fruits. During hot weather, the opportunity for foraging pulls me out of air-conditioned shelter. The dog days of summer may be the best time for foraging in the city. Some property owners cannot be bothered to pick their own cherries, plums, pears, apples and other stone fruit. (Be sure to ask permission to collect anything from private property.) My partner and I went looking for mulberries, but returned with something unexpected: rose hips. Foragers cannot rely too heavily on a grocery list. I doubt we will

Tokyo Farmers Markets: August 11th and 12th

Yamanashi's Southern Alps Farm Field Trip NPO at UNU Market! I'm up in Hokkaido at the moment chasing down some good vegetables and farmers markets there, but there is certainly a nice handful of markets in Tokyo this weekend to chase away those summer blues. Cool your heels at one of these lovely markets with some good food, good conversation, and more than a little fun! Know of a market not listed here? Give me a shout and I'll get it on the list. Surely, there's more than enough veg to go around. Gyre Market Saturday,  August 11 and Sunday, August 12 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 August 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

Vegetable Bike Touring in Higashikawa, Hokkaido: Reprise

As this goes live, I'll hopefully be doing exactly this but in Sapporo and along the coast to Wakkanai. We'll be bike touring again , and so it seemed only appropriate to bring this first adventure back to the front again as a pleasant reminder of how it all began. I hope to be revisiting some of these spots once again in the weeks to come to see how things are going and to make some updates. My Japanese has improved exponentially, so it should be easier and a lot less scary than it was the first time, too! See you at the farm stand! A farm stand between Higashikawa and Asahikawa. Oh, yes. After  hiking in Daistetsuzan National Park  we spent some time with  the Weymiller's at Square One .  Their beautiful straw bale home  is located in Green Village, an eco-suburb of Higashikawa, with sweeping views over rice fields heavy with grain to the mountains of Daisetsuzan. Part of our daily routine was to hop on the mamachari's (bicycles) and hit the highways and

Our Own Chyokubaijo: Tokyo Farm Opens a Store

The new log house at the farm. Well, we actually opened our doors to the public back in June, but by then we were knee-deep in tomatoes , cucumbers , beans, and the eggplant were just starting to stomp through the door, too. Blog post ideas came fast and furious while I was out harvesting, but slowed to a trickle once I got home, showered, and had lunch. Napping and other writing assignments  took priority, and so it's only now that I'm writing about the new little stand or chyokubaijo . Last fall, after the summer harvest was mostly finished, the farmers turned their attention not just to winter crops but to building the stand and adjacent garage. Extended family discussions resulting a few slight changes meant reorganizing a few things so multiple members could farm when, where, and how they wished. Relations are amiable, but as with any family there are differences of opinion and work style. It seemed to make the most sense to divide things up a bit so folks could

Tokyo Farmers Markets: August

Hidamari at the Earth Day Market and most yummy homemade vegan food! August in Tokyo is a month to watch out for, not least because of the infamously high temperatures and levels of humidity, but also because of Obon. One of the holidays I like best here, Obon sends people flocking back to their hometowns to celebrate and remember their ancestors while gathered with family. It's a lovely thing and a holiday I wish we had the equivalent of in America, but it is a schedule disruptor. I've checked market calendars as well as I can and will continue to do so, but peruse the links below carefully before heading out. I'll update as I can. That said, the hubby and I are off on to what has become our second hometown, Hokkaido , during this month for biking and eating and vegetable hunting . I'll be in and out, but doing what I can to ensure your fun at the markets works out for the best! SUN Grocery in Shinjuku Saturday, August 4th 11am to 3pm A once-a-month out

Kawaguchiko's Fresh Vegetable Stand

Kawaguchiko's Nifty Vegetable Stand by the lake! This past weekend took us on what has become something of an annual adventure . We pack up our tent and camping gear, fold up the bikes , and board the train for the Fuji Five Lakes . It helps us remember all the things we'll need for a similar trip to Hokkaido , and it reminds our legs and bodies of the work that's in store. It's also an incredibly pleasant break from the heat that fills Tokyo to over-flowing at the moment. Our practice is to catch an early evening train to Kawaguchiko, guerrilla camp somewhere in the city, wake up early on Saturday, and start biking. This year was the same, although I was so groggy Saturday morning that I left my glasses in the tent. Normally, this would not be a problem, except by the time I remembered the tent was back in its stuff sack and strapped to the trailer. Miraculously, my glasses emerged undamaged. After a short stop at the Sengen Shrine to be awestruck as always