Friday, December 27, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, December 28th and Sunday, December 29th

Beautiful tat-tsoi at the holiday Earth Day Market.

This final weekend of 2013 winds down with a handful of good, solid Tokyo farmers markets. Head on out to find all the ingredients necessary for the perfect pot of nabe, New Year's treats, and the all-important year-end dish: nanakusagayu. (I could use a bowl of that now. It's been quite a series of holiday feasts already.) And stock up! Markets won't open up again until the middle of January. Maybe take an extra backpack?

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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, December 20, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, December 21st and Sunday, December 23rd

Mushrooms galore at Hida Takayama markets!
Another lovely weekend in Tokyo after a bit of rain. Cold weather gives the air the sharp tingle of the holidays, which should be wonderful inspiration to head on out and see what wonderful seasonal treats can be found. The Nippori Market takes center stage this weekend with its holiday extravaganza. Santa on Sunday, a wine garden, and vendors galore will be on hand to feed, entertain, and help supply presents. Don't miss it!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Sunday, December 8th and Saturday, December 21st through Monday, December 23rd
10am to 5pm
Like the Earth Day Market, Nippori is running one regular market day early on and then a holiday extravaganza that should knock your Christmas stockings off. The three day affair will feature a wine garden (like a beer garden, but with wine), live music, excellent food carts, gifty bits and most likely a wee bit of dancing. All that wine, you know.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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, December 13, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 15th

Kabuchiyo-san at one of Hida-Takayama's morning markets.
Gracious me, this weekend is bumper-to-bumper markets. Not least among them will be the Earth Day Market's Merry X'Mas with Fair Trade, an affair not to be missed. The rest of the markets will surely have a fun feeling, too, especially given December's never-ending sunshine, so don't be shy about heading out. This is the best time of year to go and gather those most excellent winter vegetables. See you there!

Sunday, December 15th
A fantastic two times this month, the Earth Day Market will have a regular showing of vendors this weekend and then their special event, Merry X'Mas with Fair Trade. The latter event will feature many of the markets wonderful regular features along with a wreath-making workshop (back by popular demand), amazing ceramics, and a bevy of international goods!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, December 14th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Saturday, December 14th
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?
5pm - 8pm

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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, December 6, 2013

December Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Earth Day Market Wreath
Photo courtesy of Earth Day Market.
December brings with it brilliant skies and an even more brilliant set of markets. Get ready to stock up on favorite winter fruits and vegetables, some lovely gifty items (jam or pickles, anyone?), organic wine and beer for that year-end party, and a wonderful selection of ceramics to serve it in. Or just head on out to the special events some of the markets are offering to rev up your holiday energies! The Earth Day and Nippori Markets are rolling out two (yes, two!) events each this month that promise to be wonderful, while the old faithfuls carry on with their wonderful fare. Check the calendar and head on out to get the holiday season started right!

Ebisu Market
This usually twice monthly farmers market is taking a short holiday this month. It promises to be back in January full of the usual fun, flavor, and foodliness!

Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 15th
A fantastic two times this month, the Earth Day Market will have a regular showing of vendors this weekend and then their special event, Merry X'Mas with Fair Trade. The latter event will feature many of the markets wonderful regular features along with a wreath-making workshop (back by popular demand), amazing ceramics, and a bevy of international goods!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Sunday, December 8th and Saturday, December 21st through Monday, December 23rd
10am to 5pm
Like the Earth Day Market, Nippori is running one regular market day early on and then a holiday extravaganza that should knock your Christmas stockings off. The three day affair will feature a wine garden (like a beer garden, but with wine), live music, excellent food carts, gifty bits and most likely a wee bit of dancing. All that wine, you know.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, December 14th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Saturday, December 14th
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?
5pm - 8pm

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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, November 29, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, December 1st

Drying togarashi braided with wara (rice straw) at the Nippori Farmers Market.
Another lovely weekend awaits those seeking seasonal, fresh food. Seriously, winter is such the best season in Tokyo for wandering about! No searing temperatures and humidity to weigh a shopper down as they peruse sweet potatoes, some of the first hoshigaki (dried persimmons) of the season, winter greens, daikon types galore, and more kabu than should be legal in one sitting. Just imagine the pickle possibilities! Oh, and the yuzu and other citrus just coming along now. And the apples. And the mochi. Heavens, what could you be waiting for?

Every Saturday and Sunday*
*Check out the Bread Festival on Sunday, November 1st where a variety of sourdough and other breads will be ready for eating!
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday Snapshots: Minamisanriku Garden

Garden in Minamisanriku, Tohoku.
Today is Thanksgiving in my home country, and I pondered for quite some time about what photo to put here. I'm homesick this year for the holiday more than I ever have been in our nearly five years here. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but my heart pines to be with all sides of my crazy, loving, and weird family. 

Close-up of the squash.
However, I also thought about others who would give anything to be with those they love. That would be folks from Washington County, Illinois, recently devastated by tornadoes, people in the Philippines ravaged by the recent typhoon, and those still living, literally, in the aftermath of the 2011 triple disaster. My heart goes out to all of them today and always, and while I know they grieve and pine, too, they also find hope and carry on as best they can.

Me with the genki gardener!
And here's one gardener I had the pleasure of meeting this summer while volunteering in Minamisanriku. Settled on a high hill he lives in temporary housing and grows his vegetables along and up a chain link fence just out his back door. I know temperatures have dropped since these pictures were taken and the squash have long since been consumed, but it still inspires me. And it makes me thankful to know those I love are just a phone call away.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tougan: Introducing Winter Melon

Tougan (winter melon) at Hosotani's natural farm near Nara.
October, 2013.

Tougan (winter melon) has been on my vegetable radar since our very first days in Japan. Large, oblong, and deep green, it is an attractive vegetable nearly irresistible to a curious eater. A neighbor down the road grows them, and each year I ponder a purchase but never quite got around to it. Their chokubaijo (direct sale stand) is a popular one despite its secluded location along the Tamagawajousui. It's best to arrive early and then politely duke it out with the local grandmothers for the choicest bouquet, pickles, and vegetables.) I've also seen it at various farmers markets around town, but somehow lugged one home. Tomiyama-san, manager of the Earth Day Market, even suggested a warm winter punch recipe made with red wine, cinnamon and other spices, that sorely tempted. Somehow I resisted.

This year, though, Hosotani-san, a natural farmer I had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewing during a recent visit to Nara Prefecture, gave me one as a parting gift. Even though it was slightly impractical, I took it with only the slightest resistance. It was an opportunity to finally try it, and his farm, which I also had the great pleasure of touring with he and his wife, was awe-inspiring. To say no on practical grounds seemed rude. I received it with gratitude.

My sister-in-law and I prepared it the next day for dinner. Back at Hamma Farm for another round of visiting and helping, the tougan was easy to incorporate into our meals. I made a big batch of asazuke, a word that literally translates as 'morning pickles' but stands for any quick pickle. The remainder landed in the curry we ate for breakfast the next day. Perfect.

A member of the cucurbit family (think cucumber), tougan vines ramble happily over the garden or clamor up a sturdy trellis with ease. The latter makes good use of space. Our neighbor grows a variety of other vegetables under the trellis that like the shade afforded by the tougan vines and leaves. Harvesting is a straight-forward process, too, with unblemished fruits hanging at head height on sturdy stems. (No yellow spot from sitting on the ground.)

Joy Larkcom writes in her classic Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Gardening Cook (2007) that tougan "are the hallmark of Chinese communities all over the world." Like so many other things, though, Japan found this little lovely and made it its own. It gets plopped into soups, including the ever-present miso shiro, stir fries, and more. While its white flesh is reminiscent in taste and texture of a cucumber, it makes it a perfect companion for stronger flavored broths and sauces. (Larkcom also writes that tougan's flowers and leaves can be eaten.) It's smooth, waxy outer surface that sometimes gives it a hazy white look, means that it will keep for upwards of six months in a cool, dry place. Usually harvested in October, a family could count on tougan as a food source during a season of scarcity. Hence, the name 'winter melon.'

Tougan asazuke
1 quarter tougan, peeled and seeded
1.5 teaspoons pickling salt (or to taste)
1 half large yuzu (or to taste)
Togarashi (optional)

Cut the tougan into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle with the pickling salt. (Remember to a non-reactive container, such as glass, for making the pickles.) Cut the yuzu into pieces, removing seeds until your patience runs out. Cut togarashi into tiny pieces. Add both to tougan and salt mixture. Massage and mix with fingers until the salt is evenly spread and the salt begins to draw out fluid. Place a heavy lid on top of mixture to encourage liquid formation and pop the mixture in the refrigerator until dinner. Can be made an hour before eating or the day before. Keeps for about three days, give or take.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 23rd and Sunday, November 24th

My lovely sister-in-law and a farmer we met at one of Hida Takayama's morning markets.
Another beautiful weekend dawns and brings a round of the standard Tokyo markets, which should be plum full of autumn goodness. Get your fill of early daikon, winter greens, and tougan (winter melon), along with plenty of kaki (persimmons) for general eating, jamming, or turning into hoshigaki (dried persimmons). (For the latter, make sure you get the tannic variety. Sweet should work, but the tannic are the most commonly used.) Amezake (sweet sake made from the lees of the sake brewing process) should also be on hand to warm hands and tummies, and I'm betting there's plenty of scrumptious mochi (rice cakes, for lack of a better translation) freshly made and waiting to be grilled. Grab a backpack (you'll be glad you did!) and head out the door!

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday*
*Check out the Bread Festival on Sunday, November 1st where a variety of sourdough and other breads will be ready for eating!
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Praying Mantis Laying Eggs


While visiting Hosotani's natural farm near Nara a few weeks ago, we encountered this kamakiri (praying mantis) laying eggs in one of the fruit trees. Testament, if you ask me, of how great this place was. Vegetables couch in abundant greenery made up of weeds and other volunteer vegetables. Insect and animal life is apparent, but the crops suffer very little damage. It truly was one of the most beautiful farms I have ever seen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Earth Day Market Tour Highlights

Image courtesty of Cynthia at AMJMX.
We couldn't have asked for a better day for Sunday's tour of the Earth Day Market with the Mexico-Japan Society. A perfectly sized group of about six, we wandered about the market sampling greens, various misos, and some of the most amazing bread ever. We chatted about recipes, new vegetables, how to use some of the grains and flours for sale there, and how to serve up satoimo (taro root) stem. (Sauted in miso and served over rice.) We bought tea, juice, and gave serious thought to which food truck we should choose for lunch. Perfect.

Check out the Mexico-Japan Society website for more photos and to see what other great fun their up to!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 16th and Sunday, November 17th

A lovely line-up of melons at one of Sapporo's regular markets.

Welcome to the most happening weekend for farmers markets in Tokyo! There's a fantastic selection of places to go, fruits and vegetables to sample and purchase, and recipes to be discovered. Just grab a good-sized bag (I recommend a backpack.) and head out the door! If you're looking for a little company at the market or feeling shy, then swing over to the Earth Day Market where I'll be walking people about, answering questions, and introducing produce and the folks that brought it to life. Should be fun!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, November 17th
Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) Don't miss it!
11am to 5pm
Map

Sunday, November 17th*
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.
*I'll be leading a group tour here this month, so come and join us!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, November 16th and Sunday, November 17th
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!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, November 16th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Saturday, November 16th
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?
5pm - 8pm

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Printing blocks at Kyoto roketsu workshop

The Yamamoto's roketsu workshop walls are lined with rolling print blocks.

During my sister-in-law's visit to Japan, we, of course, went to Kyoto. We detoured from the usual temple-shrine-garden agenda to participate in a roketsu workshop. Over the course of two hours we drew and chatted and worked in companionable silence on our separate pieces. It was an amazing experience in a lovely spot. The workshop, run by the Yamamoto family, is filled with patterns, dyeing blocks, and the smell of hot wax and is beautifully utilitarian. We loved every minute there.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Antenna shop article in Metropolis Magazine

Freshly made sushi at the Ishikawa antenna shop in Yurakacho.
Read the article at Metropolis Magazine for the full scoop!
Rather than home to complicated technical gear, antenna shops in Tokyo refer to stores featuring a variety of foods and products found only in Japan's 47 prefectures. (Two notable and clever twists on this are Kogane-ya and d&Department, of course.) Treasure troves of culinary wonder, antenna shops provide "an open window to provincial Japan," said Lionel Dersot during an interview and he is so very right. Whether on one of Yukari Sakamoto's most excellent tours (also interviewed for the article) or wandering the aisles alone, visitors will find no end of delightful things to ponder, taste, and enjoy. Sakamoto and Dersot both adore the Okinawa shop while my favorite turned out to be Ishikawa's. (The butternut squash ice cream sealed the deal.) Read the full article at Metropolis then head out to find your favorite!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Earth Day Farmers Market Tour this weekend!

Meet Minowa Farms and try the rice!
Don't forget to sign up for this fun-filled market adventure this weekend! Email Robin and Diana directly to register or leave a comment here. (I promise not to publish your information.) You'll be glad you joined us!

Two new arrivals to Tokyo, Diana and Robin, are pretty excited about the good green stuff going on all around them here. So much so that they have joined up with the Mexico-Japan Society to create cross-cultural environmentally friendly series of events rooted in Diana's home country of Mexico and Robin's farm beginnings in Australia to share the pleasure in their findings with others. I think good things are in store for all of us!

And, I'm not saying that just because their first event features a farmers market tour with yours truly at the Earth Day Farmers Market on Sunday, November 17th. Mark your calendars, bring a bit of spending money, a backpack (Trust me. You'll be glad you did.), and an appetite. The market promises, as always, to be brimming with the seasons best grown in a manner healthy for the earth and the eater.

What's going to happen
We'll meet shortly before the market opens at 10am on the bridge that leads to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park. I'll introduce myself, the market, and you all will introduce yourselves. Then we're off to meet the growers and producers, sample some seasonal scrumptousness and shop. I'll be loitering about to answer questions or help ask them, and then we'll unofficially gather for lunch. Doesn't that sound great?!?

Details
Sunday, November 17th
Earth Day Farmers Market Tour
10am to 12pm
(No charge, but be prepared to shop!)
RSVP by Sunday, November 10th (I know it's technically past, but try anway!)
RSVP and/or send questions to Robin and Diana

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets Saturday, November 9th and Sunday, November 10th

Lovely grapes from Ibaraki at the October Nippori Farmers Market.
These cooler days make for perfect wandering in Tokyo's farmers markets or even further afield. If viewing fall colors in Kyoto, do take the time time to head to Nishiki Ichiba, an extraordinary market street brimming with good foods and flavors. If in Hida Takayama, don't miss the two morning markets for good fun and a sample of local dishes and ingredients. Meanwhile, if Tokyo is the beat for the weekend, simply head out to one of these lovelies and enjoy the best the season has to offer thus far!

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Squash Arbor in Saroma

Saroma's most amazing squash arbor.
Hokkaido, 2013

This past summer took us to Hokkaido as usual and found us wandering about via train and bus to catch up with friends new and old. One of those lovely folks lives in Saroma, a small seaside city we visited during our first year in Japan. Famous for its scallops as well as a long wild beach, we discovered squash are also well celebrated. (The Pumpkin Festival includes a parade, super rocking live band dancing party, fireworks, and an excellent selection of foods made with pumpkin.) Hence, the squash arbor pictured here where perhaps more than twenty varieties of the lovely autumn fruits grow and hang.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hida Takayama farmers markets in Outdoor Japan's Autumn Traveler

Outdoor Japan Autumn Traveler, 2013
The latest issue of Outdoor Japan's print magazine is where you'll find my newest Market Watch column raving about the culinary gems to be sampled at Hida Takayama's two morning markets. (Yes, two! It is a slice of heaven.) A favorite spot that I will be venturing to next week to take in the fall colors, the markets are high on my agenda of things to do. Check out the Autumn Traveler (page nine) and then head on out!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mottainai: Ume Hachimitsu and Umeshu Jam

Still cleaning out that shu closet! The latest result was a jam where I combined ume (plums) leftover from a jar of umeshu and a jar of umehachimitsu. The only change I made to the recipe below is that I used water rather than umehachimitsu. The result is a jam perfect with cheese, toast, or stirred into yogurt or oatmeal. Plus, it made a big batch - eight tiny jars and a half pint - which made it well worth the effort. Enjoy! - JB

 One of the leftovers of umehachimitsu are the plums or ume. Last year I made marmalade with the yuzu peels I removed from the yuzushu, but I never quite sorted out what to do with the ume from the hachimitsu or the umeshu. This year I decided to try making jam.

Remembering the damson jam served from the larder of good friends in England and those sampled at Ludlow, I perused a few recipes. These simple ones and this one for plum butter caught my imagination, but for the first batch I thought I would keep additions to a minimum. The flavor would be different as these weren't fresh dark damsons plucked from the tree by Daniel's Mill, but rather these little fatties had loitered in honey and vinegar for a handful of months. In the end, I based my experiment in the Ball Blue Book recipe for damson jam.

The resulting flavor is tart, salty, and sweet, and not quite what one might expect on morning toast. I think with cheese it would be lovely, although I am enjoying it very much on its own. It's also not an overly attractive jam - nothing like the octopus-resembling eggplant pickles - but it's still darn yummy.

Ume Hachimitsu Jam
1 kg ume from the bottom of the umehachimitsu jar
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water*

Place ume, sugar, and water* in a saucepan, and slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves, and stir regularly to keep it from burning. Once it boils, then continue boiling rapidly until the jam reaches a gelling point. Remove it from the heat, and lade the hot jam into hot jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Caveats
Water - I opted to use some of the ume hachimitsu liquid for no reason other than the fact that it was on hand. It may have made it stickier and the flavor stronger overall. My next batch I will opt for the water and see what happens.

Pits - Ume are a stone fruit, and while some folks opt to leave them in I decided they represented a high enough dental hazard that I should get them out. The ume skin proved rather resilient even after a fair amount of cooking, so I brought out my antique potato masher from America. (Pictured with the pits at left.) It crushed the ume nicely, which released the stones for me to spoon out. My husband later took them to the office as a unique sweet treat, and a co-worker said the taste reminded her of tamarind.

Amount - By morning's end, I found myself looking at about three pints of jam. I was a little disappointed, to be honest, as I come from the land of big batches for big canners. Next year, I may commit a canning sin and simply double the recipe.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Uyama-san, a wonderful organic farmer I met in Hokkaido this summer, with eggplant.

These are the perfect days for browsing  markets and planning what delectable seasonal goodness will fill the table for the evening meal. Don't be shy and try something new like tougan (winter melon) (recipe coming soon!), duck (another recipe coming soon!), new rice and the first of the new season's citrus. If you're still feeling shy, join me at the Earth Day Market on Sunday, November 17th for a guided tour. I'll most happily help you sort out seasonal favorites you never knew you had! And, check out the bread festival on November 1st at the UNU Market, too! Dear me, my mouth is watering already!

Ebisu Market
Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 17th
Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) Don't miss it!
11am to 5pm
Map

Sunday, November 17th*
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.
*I'll be leading a group tour here this month, so come and join us!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, November 16th and Sunday, November 17th
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!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, November 16th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Saturday, November 16th
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?
5pm - 8pm

Every Saturday and Sunday*
*Check out the Bread Festival on Sunday, November 1st where a variety of sourdough and other breads will be ready for eating!
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Floating Head at Fushimi Inari

Richard lost his head at Fushimi Inari shrine.
Last year we took my mother-in-law to one of the places all three of us love best in the world: the Fushimi Inari shrine between Kyoto and Nara. The winding paths lined with innumerable tori gates, the quiet as you climb through the cemetery to watch the sun set and the mysterious feeling as you descend in the dark make it one of the simplest yet most unique experiences to be had in Japan. Plus, there's an excellent eel restaurant right near the entrance to the shrine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mottainai: Brandied Chestnut Butter

A spiky bundle of scrumptiousness.
It must be nearly two years ago now that I made a batch of chestnut brandy. There is a lovely kuri (chestnut) grove at the farm, and the farmers always give me a nice bundle to make kurigohan (chestnut rice) or whatever else suits my fancy. Since arriving here I've been on a homemade alcohol kick. It started with umeshu and I began experimenting from there. We now have a shu closet full of homemade brews that we are trying to drink our way through before having to move early next year. (If you'd like to help with that, let me know.) It was only natural to try something with the kuri.

So, the bits of chestnut have been steeping since then, and I decided it was time to turn them into something else. (Mottainai and all that, you know.) So, I found this recipe at Food in Jars for chestnut butter, tweaked it, and made my own Tokyo version. The result is rather pleasant on toast, if I do say so myself.

Brandied Chestnut Butter
500 grams brandy-soaked chestnuts (2.5 - 3 cups of chestnut bits)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 1.5 cups of water (careful!)
Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl or food processor and whip until smooth. Add water as needed, but be careful not to add too much or the mixture will turn out runny. I used a wand mixer and it did a great job, but probably took a bit more time than a food processor. Spoon into jars, remove air bubbles to the best of your ability, and refrigerate. Serve on toast, with cheese, or just on the spoon. It's all quite nice!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet Potato Harvest: Reprise

It's almost impossible to believe that nearly five years have passed since I set foot on the  family farm here in Tokyo. My time there has easily been the best part of my life in Japan. The Arai's have become some combination of family and friend to me. As we ponder our next move, I can hardly bear the thought of not having C-chan and Takashi-san as part of my daily life. So, as I type this with tears in my eyes, I'm going to share again one of my favorite farm happenings: the sweet potato harvest. It's early writing, so bear with me to the recipe near the end. It's one of my favorites and worth the wait! - JB

Two kinds of sweet potatoes, both delicious.

This Spring I planted sweet potatoes for the first time. I'd certainly eaten them, and given some thought to growing them, but space in my garden often felt like it was at a premium. And past experience taught me that the potato can be a master of disguise resulting in a surprise second year harvest.

The Planting
When the Takashi's mentioned that an adjacent field was to be planted in sweet potatoes, I veritably begged to be able to help. We'd discussed our mutual fondness for them after I'd made some sweet potato stew for Shee-chan when she was feeling under the weather, as well as the differences between the American and Japanese sweet potatoes. (Japanese sweet potatoes have the same purple skin but are yellow on the inside. They also tend to turn brown rather quickly after slicing up, and the consistently is a bit more starchy.)

One fine morning in May found me with gloves, hoe, hat, and Takashi-san at the field. He had already tilled, but the sweet potato beds still needed a bit of preparation. Using stakes and ropes we created straight lines along which I hilled the soil into a long mound where I later planted the slips. Takashi-san worked on another part of the farm returning periodically to check my progress and admonish me to work a bit slower to save my back. Ten rows later I was done and ready for lunch.

The slips came bundled in newspaper, and we moved along the rows sticking them in the ground at intervals of about a foot and a half. Well, not really "sticking" but rather laying the slip (a sweet potato leaf and stem with a tiny root bud at the bottom) on the soil and then simply covering it up. Once the sprinkler system was up and running smoothly the days work was done.

The field was watered in the early mornings and late evenings as needed. (Last year the Takashi's watered by hand, and decided that was the last time for that.) I asked about applying any compost or dung, but the Takashi's said the sweet potato only required regular watering. It made me think what a boon this vegetable must be in some ways. It required some work to get in the ground and some watering, but no additional compost or fertilizer. Just let it grow and a good harvest was nearly assured.

Over the summer I would look over and see the vines stretching about the field soaking up sun and rain. Weeds grew alongside the plants, and in time the vines weren't even visible. I worried occasionally that the sweet potatoes weren't there any more - lost to the weeds or some unknown calamity that the Takashi's were too kind to tell me about - but then I remembered how clever and determined the potato can be and let it go.


The Harvest
Last Saturday we harvested some of the biggest, most beautiful sweet potatoes I've ever seen. Well, I didn't harvest them at all, but rather a group of preschool children and their parents did. Decked out in rubber boots with trowels in gloved hands children ranging in age from a few months (in one case strapped to a father's chest in a baby carrier) to about five with parents lined up along the rows.

The look on the faces of children and adults alike as HUGE purple sweet potatoes emerged from rich black soil was utterly priceless. Pure pleasure reigned supreme as potato after potato was added to piles all over the field. Kids dug for them like buried treasure and ran around holding them aloft. Kids ate dirt (and cried a little when finding it wasn't quite as tasty as anticipated), rolled in dirt, walked in dirt, and generally got dirty. It was great, and our faces hurt from so much smiling.

The Eating
We came away with a bundle of the beauties ourselves, and have been eating and sharing them since. Stew, steamed, baked in a neighbor's oven, and in dessert (bought at the grocery), the sweet potato is on every table and part of nearly every course at the moment. I've included my version of this original recipe I found on Epicurious years ago. It's a sure crowd-pleaser, and it tastes good the moment it's made. The orange juice base makes it good for warding off colds, too.

Joan's Sweet Potato Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (or one whole medium to large onion) chopped a bit coarsely
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger (without is ok, too, but it is a lovely addition)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2-3 medium to largeish peeled sweet potatoes, cubed
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 cups of orange juice
1 15 ounce can of black beans (2 is good, too) rinsed and drained

Heat the oil in the soup pan, throw in the onion, and cook covered until the onion is well-cooked and soft. I find the longer I cook it (without burning it) the better. Throw in the garlic, ginger, and cumin, and cover again. Toss in the cubed sweet potatoes, stir, and add the orange juice. I tend to add orange juice until the mixture is covered and the sweet potato bits are swimming a little. Then I throw in the beans, and let it simmer along until the sweet potatoes are done.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 26th and Sunday, October 27th

Adorable eggplant from Kamakura at the Yurakucho Farmers Market.
The word for this week is typhoon, and super typhoon at that. Before heading out to see what seasonal bounty can be scooped up for turning into something amazing (like the golden sweet potatoes Fujita-san gave me at the Nippori Farmers Market last weekend) check the market websites. I will do my best to update here, but I may be on the road with my sister-in-law also plotting how to avoid getting soaked.

Meanwhile, if the weather is decent, do head out to one of these fantastic markets. The Earth Day Market is where you can find Minowa Farms and their amazing rice along with komenuka (rice bran) for pickling or composting. You can also find pottery, homemade onigiri and mochi, and heaps of the best vegetables in town. The Ebisu Market is worth a trip, too, as they host a small handful of Tokyo farmers and always have a lovely selection of delectables, decoratives, and practicals. And then the others - Yurakucho, the UNU Market, and Roppongi - rock it on a regular basis. Enjoy the harvest!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, October 27th
Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) Don't miss it!
11am to 5pm
Map

Sunday, October 27th
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!

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Soba Seedlings

Soba seedlings near Inawashiroko, Fukushima Prefecture.
This summer we stayed with a farmer friend at her home in Aizu Wakamatsu and camped near Inawashiroko, too. One evening while toodling about the lake area we found soba fields interspersed with rice fields. It turns out that farmers plant soba after the rice harvest to get one more edible crop in before the snow flies. Clever. And delicious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Farmers Market Tour with the Mexican Japan Society

Robin and Diana. Don't you just want to hang out with them at a farmers market?!?
Photo courtesy of Robin and Diana.
Two new arrivals to Tokyo, Diana and Robin, are pretty excited about the good green stuff going on all around them here. So much so that they have joined up with the Mexico-Japan society to create cross-cultural environmentally friendly series of events rooted in Diana's home country of Mexico and Robin's farm beginnings in Australia to share the pleasure in their findings with others. I think good things are in store for all of us!

And, I'm not saying that just because their first event features a farmers market tour with yours truly at the Earth Day Farmers Market on Sunday, November 17th. Mark your calendars, bring a bit of spending money, a backpack (Trust me. You'll be glad you did.), and an appetite. The market promises, as always, to be brimming with the seasons best grown in a manner healthy for the earth and the eater.

What's going to happen
We'll meet shortly before the market opens at 10am on the bridge that leads to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park. I'll introduce myself, the market, and you all will introduce yourselves. Then we're off to meet the growers and producers, sample some seasonal scrumptousness and shop. I'll be loitering about to answer questions or help ask them, and then we'll unofficially gather for lunch. Doesn't that sound great?!?

Details
Sunday, November 17th
Earth Day Farmers Market Tour
10am to 12pm
(No charge, but be prepared to shop!)
RSVP by Sunday, November 10th
RSVP and/or send questions to Robin and Diana

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th

Serious seasonal shopping at the Yurakacho Farmers Market.
Fall temperatures blew in with that last typhoon, and we're thoroughly enjoying it. (I'm typing wearing a fleecy robe. Oh, the joy!) Cooler temperatures signal the closing of summer, and that means winter vegetables on the horizon. While we wait for those cool, rich greens try a bit of sweet potato, pumpkin, kaki (persimmon), and snarf up the last of the nashi (Japanese pear), too. Savor the first rice of the season (mine from Minowa Farms just arrived!) and begin dusting off recipes for houtou udon or nabe. And don't forget to try some of the lovely manju at the Nippori Market to tide your tastebuds over until you can really get down to cooking! See you at the market!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, October 20th
Making up for missing last month apparently, the Ebisu Market is rocking it four (yes, four!) times this month. (See October's full schedule for the other dates.) Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part of the city where on these sweet Sundays you'll find farmers and producers galore. (One even comes from Okutama with a lovely array of vegetables and a vegetable-based spread that will knock your socks off.) Don't miss it!
11am to 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th
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!

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, October 19th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm
Map

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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, October 11, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 12th and Sunday, October 13th

Dried fruit vendor rocking it at the inaugural Market of the Sun.

As the typhoons wind down and the temperatures gradually sink it's time to bask in the glory of fall bounty: squash, chestnuts, togarashi (Japanese hot peppers), and some of the season's first rice. Sidle up to a table at one of these lovely markets and see what you can find to whip up a fall friendly dish or two. Apples, nashi (Japanese pears), and kaki (persimmons) are all rolling in as are pomegranates. Enjoy!

Market of the Sun
Saturday, October 12th and Sunday, October 13th
Tokyo's newest market is only steps away from Tsukiji and bills itself as the city's largest with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods as well as soaps, jewelry and heaps of food vendors. Feels a bit like the UN University Market but in a much smaller space.
10am - 5pm

Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!
10am to 4pm

Every Saturday
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 tracks in Kokobunji!
10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho 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!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Giant Kokeshi Dolls in Sugamo

Illuminated kokeshi outside Koganji Temple in Sugamo.

Friends of friends were visiting this past August and I volunteered to tour them about one day. We ended up in Sugamo, a.k.a. Grandma's Harajuku. Renowned for its old ladies wear, red underwear (red makes you healthy and energetic), and slightly salty daifuku mochi, we spotted this lovely trio near the entrance to Koganji Temple.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Market Review: Tokyo's Market of the Sun

Vendors bustling at the Market of the Sun.
Last month a new farmers market popped up in Tokyo. The Market of the Sun opened on Saturday, September 14th to a nearly full house of vendors and an incredible number of customers despite unseemly heat. Claiming to be the city's largest market with roughly 100 vendors, the market tucks itself nicely at the foot of a residential building just outside Kachidoki station in Tsukishima Second Children's Park. Visitors can find everything from fruits and vegetables to soap, jewelry, tea, honey, jam, and seedlings. 

According to Akiko Yamagata, Market of the Sun manager, the monthly event is sponsored by Mitsuii Real Estate Residential Corporation as something interesting for their residents to do and as an attractive option for those drawn to the area by the upcoming 2020 Olympics.  "We wanted consumers to be able to meet farmers face to face and let farmers promote their wares directly," she said. Held the second Saturday and Sunday of each month, Yamagata said there are hopes it will occur more often in the new year. 

Edible Gardens clever little gardens in a paper bag. 
Connections with other farmers markets and organic associations helped Yamagata gather her vendors who come from all over the country. Farmers as well as Tokyo shop owners sell their wares, so be sure to ask the seller for their story. (Alas, no Tokyo farmers are represented although Hokkaido and Kyushu were represented. Of the farmers on hand, about 10-15 of them are organic.) Grower or shop owner, it's bound to be a good one. I bought a lovely citrus from a mostly organic fruit and vegetable seller who candlelights as a jazz pianist. How cool is that?

Market of the Sun it certainly was in September.
This month promises to be cooler...maybe.
Yamakura Organic Tomatoes from Hida Takayama were on hand that day doing a brisk trade in organic heirloom tomatoes. Tipped off by Lionel Dersot who had arrived earlier before the heat really settled in, I wandered over to grab an assorted bag of colorful lovelies. Yamakura grows over 40 varieties of tomatoes and based on the taste they do a great job. (They can also be found at the UN University Farmers Market.)

A mere sampling of Yamakura's awesome tomatoes.
The only sad part of the whole affair was that the non-profit organizations (NPOs) were tucked in a back corner where traffic significantly dropped off. A shame, really, as the activities for kids and families looked impressive and fun. All in all, though, I plan to go again to check it out. Perhaps see you there!

Planning to go? Good!
Market of the Sun
Second Saturday and Sunday of the month
10am - 5pm
Nearest Station: Kachidoki, Exit 4a, 4b