Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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 by those most magnificent trees, we pedaled on to our ultimate destination: Lake Motosuko. The deepest of the five lakes it also happens to be the farthest away and full of campgrounds. Good swimming, always a good breeze, and views of Fuji-san when he so chooses make a perfect get-away.

Blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkins and more!
But I digress.

It's our return trip and the vegetable stand we discovered next to the Natural Living Center that's got me all excited this time around. More on the biking later and the rock we found for jumping into the lake.

The vegetable stand is a bike tourist's best friend. In a world where the desire is to travel light and lean toward ramen cups, such places are a bit of heaven. Fresh carrots, blueberries from the patch visible over the farmer's shoulder as you chat, corn picked that morning and sweet enough to eat raw then and there are fuel for the biking body and as inexpensive, bite for bite, as that silly cup ramen in the bottom of the bag. Plus, it's a chance to talk to a local person, contribute to the local economy, and savor the countryside going by. How perfect is that?

Homegrown daizu!
We gathered up red and yellow tomatoes, a cob of corn each, cucumbers, and a carrot. Car campers could carry away fresh eggs, a selection of daizu to soak and toss in whatever is on the menu for evening, jams, honey, cabbage, and shockingly beautiful eggplant. Lavender and blueberry ice cream can also be had for a more ephemeral taste of summer. Once again I ask, how perfect is that?

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