Friday, March 30, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: April


April seems to be arriving in a flurry of sunshine and steadily increasing temperatures. For a Midwestern girl like me it's odd to see so many things in bloom already and feel that undercurrent of warm air as I work in the fields at the farm. Strange, too, to see how the schedule there gets busier and busier as we prepare for an assortment of summer crops. Didn't we just put in the komatsuna? Ah, well. So it goes. Get out and have a good wander around to enjoy those first hints of Spring!

Photo Note: A farmer from Aizu Wakamatsu, Takako Kimura sells her lovely vegetables at the Nippori Market. Her energy, enthusiasm and good cheer seems to be in every bit of the nannohanna we brought home with us. I'm looking forward to meeting her again this month!


Sunday, April 1 (No fooling!)
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing.
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!


Sunday, April 1 and Sunday, April 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.


SUN Grocery in Shinjuku
Saturday, April 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

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15
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 part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!

Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15
Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 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

Kichijoji Market
A terrific two days of seasonal vegetables, fruits, homemade treats, and even some fun activities for those whipper-snappers!
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
10am to 5pm
Map

Every Saturday and Sunday in April
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

Saturday, April 21
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
8pm - ?

Every Saturday in April
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in April
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in April
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets March 24th and 25th

Spring is most definitely in the air, and at the Earth Day Market in Kichijoji in March I spotted my first nanohana - flowering greens that like takenoko are one of spring's distinctive flavors - along with sprouting rhubarb, tulips, and crocus in my garden so it must be on its way. And the Nippori Farmer's Market this past weekend was much the same despite chill winds, a smattering of rain, and cloudy weather. It seems to me that if you're hankering for a taste of Spring in any way a farmer's market might just be the place to find it!

Photo Note: Tatsuko Onaya took a break from serving up her most amazingly scrumptious manju (savory as well as sweet - bless her heart) at the Nippori Farmer's Market this last Sunday for a quick photo. 







Gyre Market
Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25
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

Sunday, March 25
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month will also feature a great selection of organic wines and some nifty music! 
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
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

Every Saturday in March
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nippori Farmer's Market: A Little Market Only by Some Standards



Nippori Farmer's Market aerial view















This past Sunday took us down into an old heart of Tokyo, near Yanaka and its magnificent gardens to visit a new farmer's market. It's an area where we often take guests because it feels old (it is) that results in a certain charm that can't be found anywhere else. Old wooden houses dot narrow lanes near some of the loveliest temples and shrines I've visited yet (including those in Kyoto, Nara, and Nikko.) So, despite chilly weather that threatened rain we sallied forth with umbrellas and waterproof shopping bags to see what we could find.

Onaya-san's scrumptious manju
 














The Nippori Farmer's Market is what I would call “off-the-grid.” It's not part of the larger Marche Japon gig or the all-organic Earth Day Markets series, but rather is the brainchild of the owner of a nearby mansion (condominium) owner who wanted to “do something nice” with the plaza space in front of the high rises. Given Nippori's historic feel and past controversies regarding the Fuji Viewing Street, it makes sense that he'd want to try to balance out his very modern high rises.

Based on my first visit I'd say this effort is a successful one. The Nippori Farmer's Market is small – about 30 to 40 vendors – but very pleasant with a remarkably good selection of items. Fresh vegetables, rice, cheese, seedlings, baked goods, fruit, and prepared foods to be eaten on the spot as well as those for snacking were all on hand. (I recommend without reservation Tatsuko Onaya's homemade manju and Ringo no Hana's steaming bowls of hearty tonjirou. We sat down for much-needed breaks at their respective tents to enjoy our food and take in the atmosphere of the market.) Vendors from Hokkaido, Niigata, Gunma, Aomori, and Aizu Wakamatu sported everything from potatoes to fish to apple vinegar to cabbage to nanohana to dried natto and bath salts.

This month's special feature, too, was a booth sponsored by EAC, a division of Asahi Industries (not the beer) where visitors could bring samples of items they wanted tested for radioactive cesium. Folks brought everything from soil to water to bread to rice to homegrown vegetables for testing. Interestingly enough, food items tested relatively low amounts while some soil samples came in with higher numbers. (I'll be doing a longer piece on this later, by the way.) One customer tested the shoes he'd worn that day to find nothing could be detected. (To be fair, the machine used that day couldn't detect anything below 10 becquerels.)

Sase-san from Aizu Wakamatsu
Certainly, the personal tour given me by Atsuko, the market manager, set the stage for a great visit, but in the end as always, it is the vendors that make the experience. To a person they were warm and welcoming, nearly all had samples and were ready to talk about their wares more in-depth. The atmosphere they created reminded me why small markets are sometimes preferable to large ones. The opportunity to talk with vendors is better since I don't feel like I'm taking up too much time or space, and there's more opportunity to peruse the market itself. The overall selection might be smaller – only one person selling strawberries, for example – but I don't really mind. It is sometimes nice to have only a few good things to choose from rather than having to search out the best of ten.

Started a little less than two years ago, the Nippori Farmer's Market has a homespun quality that is a delight to find in a big city. Vendor's chatted with each other as well as customer's, and even danced a bit at their stalls when the musical performances started. The presence of growers and producers from Aizu Wakamatsu, Miyagi, and Ibaraki mean, too, it's a good chance to support Tohoku as the region continues to rebuild and reimagine itself. Held monthly on both Saturday and Sunday visitors are sure to find plenty of good things to eat and explore. I know I'll be back.

Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15
10am to 5pm
Directions: Head out the East exit of the Nippori Station and look for the cluster of green awnings in the plaza. Or listen for the sound of taiko drums!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets March 17th and 18th

Makinonouen heirloom daizu
Bright skies mixed with the occasional rain shower mean spring, of course. The ume blossoms are running late this year, and their bright colors and soft scent are inspiration enough to head on out to one of the great markets listed below. I'd also like to point out the addition of a new one - the Nippori Farmer's Market - that promises to be a dandy. I'll be there on Sunday to investigate, enjoy the taiko performance, and hopefully venture home with a new recipe or two to try!
Sunday, March 4 and Sunday, March 18
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

Kichijoji Market
A terrific two days of seasonal vegetables, fruits, homemade treats, and even some fun activities for those whipper-snappers!
Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18
10am to 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmer's Market
Held every Sunday in Nippori this market is a new one to me, but it promises to be good. I'm planning a visit followed by a full update, but don't be shy to head on out to see for yourself. Growers from the Tokyo-area as well as a number from Fukushima Prefecture will be showing off their spring fare, and this weekend folks can bring along items they wish to test for cesium.
Sunday, March 18
10am to 5pm
Directions: East Exit of Nippori Station and look for the veg!

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
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

Saturday, March 17
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
8pm - ?

Every Saturday in March
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nippori Farmer's Market: Another New Market in Tokyo















Word from Martin Frid, my friend and fellow blogger over at Kurashi, is that Nippori is home to a swell little market. Vendors come from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture (all products tested before selling - don't be afraid to ask!) and the Tokyo-area to offer delectable herbs, vegetables, fruits, and other wonderful delights. Martin also mentioned that folks can bring produce or even soil they wish to have tested for cesium in a machine specifically for this purpose.

I'm quite excited to add this one to the monthly calendar of farmer's markets, and plan to be there this weekend to check it out for myself. There's even a taiko performance, to boot!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Sunday, March 18th
10am to 5pm
Map - No map yet, but coming soon!
Directions: East exit of the Nippori station and look for happy people selling vegetables!

Photo Note: These bright lovelies can be found at Koganeya, n little antenna shop just out the south exit of Musashi Koganei station, that features local fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats, and more. Not a farmer's market, but just about as good!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tokyo Farmer's Markets March 10th and 11th

Always a time of transition, March this year is particularly poignant for Japan. This Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the earthquake that shook the country to its core. The last year saw calls for conservation, high levels of concern regarding radiation contamination, the search for alternative energy, and continuous efforts to help our northern neighbors as they strive to rebuild their lives safely and sustainably. Shopping at a farmer's market may seem trite, but it supports growers and producers, especially those from Tohoku, that rebuilds businesses, economies, and confidence. These markets aren't just about vegetables or grains or miso or handwoven hats. Rather, they are about building community, showing a neighbor you believe enough in what they do to exchange hard-earned money for a freshly picked daikon, a beautiful bunch of komatsuna, or an interesting flavor of jam. The earthquake may be one year behind us, but our need for each other is ever present.

Today's Photo: Shingo-san of Makinonouen takes a moment to pose for the camera at the Kichijoji Earth Day Market while customers circled the table eyeing the great selection of heirloom soybeans, homemade pickles, and more.

Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11
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

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
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

Every Saturday in March
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kichijoji Earth Day Market: A New Sweet Spot for Vegetable Fun

Kichijoji's March Earth Day Market bustles!















There's a new market in town, and let's just say I'm excited. The Earth Day Market, held monthly over in Yoyogi Park, is one of my favorites, and so when the market manager, Tomiyama-san, told me a 'branch' market was starting up in Kichijoji I was thrilled. The Earth Day Market is all organic, all fair trade, all the time, and the only downside is that it is once a month.

So yesterday, two days returned from our month in America, we battled jet lag and biked on over to check out the new market. There at the western end of the park we found a bundle of vendors braving the chill of a  cloudy Sunday to greet customers with their usual selection of good food and sustainable products.
BioFarm's most yummy roasted potatoes.















Many of our usual favorite vendors were there - Cocira with her most excellent bamboo charcoal cleaning product, BioFarm with the usual selection of beautiful greens and the scrumptious roasted potatoes pictured above, Kitagawen with their lovely organic teas, and Miyamotoyama with their mouth-watering homemade mochi, miso, and natto  - along with a bundle of new folks selling everything from plants and seeds to jewelry, jams, an assortment of grains, vinegars, miso and shitake, along with jewelry and yarn. Busy in spite of gray skies, it's easy to imagine this market shaded by the big trees in warmer months and full of people doing a bit of shopping before venturing to the zoo or a stroll around the pond.

Makino Nouen's amazing daizu selection
Come on out to one of Tokyo's hippest spots to enjoy the park, pick up some groceries, and support area farmers!

Kichijoji Earth Day Market
Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13*
10am to 4pm (Rain or shine!)
Map
*Yup, we have to wait until May. The anticipation is already killing me...

Directions: Head out the South exit of Kichijoji Station towards Inokashira Park. As you come down the steps to enter the park proper, turn right along the pond. Follow the path along until you see an option to head up the hill on the right. Head up the hill, and there at the base of the walkway leading to the zoo and under a grove of trees you'll find a friendly bunch waiting to help you find the vegetable of your dreams. There's plenty of bike parking there, too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tokyo's March Farmer's Markets

March in Tokyo holds all the promise of spring tucked in and around the bluster of winter winds. Like elsewhere, all four seasons seem to be present this month in bloom, fruit, and vegetable. One of the best ways to savor the last tastes of winter and satisfy the anticipation of spring flavors is a visit to one of the many local farmers markets around the city. There are heaps all month long and often on both Saturday and Sunday. Plenty of opportunity to get out and explore and find a new favorite taste!

Moments of note this month are the double-whammy for Gyre Market, and the Earth Day Market in Kichijojji! So many vegetables, so little time...

Photo Note: Kimiko Matsubara of Cocoi with some of her nifty environmentally friendly cleaning products at the Earth Day Market in January.

Saturday, March 3
11am to 3pm
A once-a-month outreach effort by the students running a neighborhood grocery featuring fruits and vegetables from independent farmers.

Sunday, March 4 and Sunday, March 18
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.

Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11
Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25
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

Kichijoji Market
A terrific two days of seasonal vegetables, fruits, homemade treats, and even some fun activities for those whipper-snappers!
Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18
10am to 5pm
Map

Earth Day Market - Kichijoji 
A new event with nearly 30 growers and producers offering up useful, tasty, and interesting items for the shoppers delight. Two days (yup, two days!) of opportunity all in beautiful Inokashira Park. Jet lag or no jet lag, I'll be there!
Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4
10am to 4pm (Rain or shine!)
Map
*I remain hopeful that some of our Mitaka growers will move in and strut their stuff.

Sunday, March 25
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month will also feature a great selection of organic wines and some nifty music! 
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
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

Saturday, March 17
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
8pm - ?

Every Saturday in March
A recent first visit to this market was well worth the trip for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji.
10am to 2pm

Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another nice market not far from the sumo stadium in Ryogoku it's worth casing out for the neighborhood as well as the vendors.
11am to 5pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday in March
Another great market somewhere in size between Kichijoji and the United Nation's University Farmer's Market, it often features from a particular growing region as well as heaps of farmers and producers from nearby Chiba and Saitama, too.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of the station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout and we'll add it to the list!