Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2013

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Sunday, June 30th

Sweet display of festive foods at 246 Common. A lovely pair of markets not to be missed this last day of June. Sneak on out to see what fresh seasonal treats await. Who knows what new thing will be found to tempt your taste buds, to turn into jam or a pickle , or to simply eat fresh because there's no resisting something so lovely. See you there! 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 Map 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 han

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Saturday, June 29th

Mouth-watering bread at 246 Common A lovely little round-up of markets for the last Saturday of the month. Head on out to Roppongi's bonanza of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, cut flowers, and more or to the UN University's weekend long celebration of foodly fun. And, of course, there's always Yurakacho, a market near the traditional heart of Tokyo that deserves much more attention than it gets. Take your pick and see you there! 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 Map Roppongi Market 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 track

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 29th and Sunday, June 30th

Farmer's market loot in the bag! June is rolling out with a little less rain and a little more heat, which is only appropriate. Roll yourself, then, on over to one of these great markets and see what seasonal treats await. Do pack an umbrella, though, as this time of year is slightly unpredictable! 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 Map Roppongi Market 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 Map Yurakucho Farmer's Market Every Saturday and Sunday Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho features a particular r

Thursday Snapshot: Matsumoto Hanko

Antique hanko display in Matsushima. Earlier this month the husband gave a talk at a conference in Matsumoto. I tagged along because I'd heard there were farmer's markets there, a castle, and it sounded like fun. Matsumoto is a pretty little town with an excellent castle, good restaurants, and a fantastic free bike program. It also has a charming shopping street where I spotted this display of antique hanko (stamps). Japanese people tend not to actually sign things, but rather stamp documents with a personal seal. These tend to be small and rubber and not very exciting, but these antique metal ones were lovely. And expensive. Hence, only a photograph.

44 Years as Sister Cities: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Hikone, Shiga Prefecture

Once again the Blogathon has presented with the great good luck of a fantastic guest post. Ruth Kraut from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a fellow Blogathoner this year and a friend. You can read her great writing on all things educational over at Ann Arbor School Musings .  -Joan In November 1968, the State of Michigan and Shiga Prefecture in Japan became sister provinces. A few months after that, in February 1969, Ann Arbor Michigan invited  Hikone  Japan to be a “Sister City.” At the time, Ann Arbor already had sister city relationships with  Tuebingen , Germany and Belize City in Belize. Ann Arbor has the University of Michigan, and  Tuebingen  and  Hikone  both have universities. In fact, the first article about  Hikone  in the Ann Arbor News from February 9, 1969, starts out: “Watch out for the monkeys,” signs warn drivers near  Hikone , Ann Arbor’s new sister city in Japan.  Michiganians  traveling in their sister state, Shiga Prefecture, may be reminded of the “wat

Portland Farmer's Markets: Guest Post

One of the great things about the Blogathon is meeting other writers and bloggers. Nancy is a fellow writer and traveler and farmers market lover from Portland, Oregon. We swapped posts about market fun today, which means that now I really want to go to Portland. You can see my post over at her lovely website, Just a Backpack and a Rollie . Enjoy! See you at the Farmers Market!   For many Portlanders, a trip to a local farmers market is a weekly tradition.   Earth friendly bags, baskets and carts in hand, they head out to meet  with friends, stock up on kale, scapes, and pea tendrils, pick a peck of peppers and sample the wares from apple cider to tasty tarts. Portland Farmers Market - Eat Local At last count there were more than 50 markets spread out across the Portland area.  Most open in early May and run through October.  Talk about bounty — we have dewy-fresh produce on offer somewhere every day - it's like living in the Garden of Eden, without the guilt. Hubs

New Potato Haiku

New potato salad and lucky cat. One of the Blogathon's standard theme days is haiku. The day serves as a sort of break, theoretically an easier push to create than a standard post requiring a certain amount of research and time. In the past I've written about an ornamental peach tree on the farm here in Tokyo, norabo blooms abuzz with bees , and a miniature rice field . This year I'm writing about potatoes, the unsung hero of the seasonal plate. New Potatoes Set free this morning. Small. Round. Brown. Slightly dirty. Steaming on my plate. We harvested ours early this year due to a disease that seems to be sweeping the Tama area. My garden potatoes don't seem to be bothered by it, but I'm keeping a close eye on them. It might be that I'm lucky or that they're well hidden in the living mulch that surrounds them . Whatever it is - luck or greenery - I'm grateful. The blue and red varieties make my mouth water even now as I type, and the standard

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Sunday, June 23rd

Delicata squash and Italian cauliflower at the Sapporo Farmer's Market . Summer, 2012. Another glorious day for a visit to a Tokyo Farmer's Market has begun, so don't be shy about heading out to any of these little foodly festivals. You're sure to find plenty of bounty at each one representing the best of the season. Early potatoes should be arriving as well as garlic and the season's first tea. Pop a few baked goods into the bag, settle on a new vegetable to try, and then choose which food vendor to wait in line at for a yummy snack. While you munch, surely you'll spot something else scrumptious to buy that you simply forgot to add to the list. 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

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Saturday, June 22nd

Toneru Yama Honey staff at the Sapporo Farmer's Market . Summer, 2012. Oh, the day has dawned full of sunshine, which means markets will be hopping. Whether you arrive early or late, though, there will be no shortage of good food to be had. The Roppongi Market , on only today, is well worth the trek. While it might be in a slightly disreputable part of town, the market itself is one of the best. It's also just one of the fantastic foodly places that abound in this neck of the woods. Go on. You know you want to go! 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 Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday A first  visit to this market  was well worth the trek for the num

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 22nd and Sunday, June 23rd

Carrots, anyone?  A little wet, a little gray. A little sunny, a little cloudy. Such is the forecast for this weekend, but it doesn't mean the markets won't be bubbling over with rainy day fun and good food. Don't be shy about charging about with your umbrella to find lovely treats and plenty of the season's best rolling in. In fact, I might suggest this is the perfect time to go to a market. Many others might not, so you'll get the pick of the best! 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 Map Roppongi Market 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 dow

Thursday Snapshot: Wishing Well

Wishing coins in China. Last September we had the great pleasure of spending time with good friends in China. We spent a few days in Beijing, then went on to our friend's hometown. It was an amazing two weeks with unforgettable food, lots of laughter, and plenty of sight-seeing. We visited major sites, but we also spent a great deal of time simply wandering the streets of whatever city we landed in. We also tried plenty of random foods, which resulted in befriending the candy lady at a local supermarket. (I really like sweets.) She didn't speak a word of English and we don't speak Chinese, but we managed to build a kind of friendship via our daily visits. One of our favorite days, though, was spent at a small temple and nature park our friends recommended. We hiked around, protected our bags from the monkeys, and said our prayers for future hopes. One idea was to drop a coin in a small fountain. If it floated, your wish would come true. Above are our two coins. Our fr

Living Mulch Update

An early shot of the living mulch. Awhile back I wrote about a novel idea called living mulch . In short, the idea is to spread old seeds at random on the soil either in early spring or late fall, rake them in, and let them come as they will. When it's time to plant something else, simply eat the space clear and plant, The living or edible mulch serves a dual purpose - keeping weeds down and filling my belly - which I find intensely appealing. Since then I've read articles about it in Permaculture Magazine (subscribe if you haven't already) and tried it both in the garden and in pots on my balcony. Both places seem to be rather successful. The pots, however, do require regular watering. If not maintained, one ends up with dried living mulch. Not so bad, but not exactly attractive or what I was aiming for. The garden, though, has been very successful. The potato patch where I decided to do this is now awash in greenery. To my pleasure and surprise, the space is co

Fuji Five Lakes Adventuring

Mount Fuji from Kawaguchiko. Each year in preparation for our trip to Hokkaido we head off to the Fuji Five Lakes region for a bit of biking, camping, and exploring. Bikes get folded up into bags and bundled on the train. We guerrilla camp and are up with the sun to sip hot coffee and eat breakfast as Kawaguchiko slowly wakes up. Just as the first cable car starts making is way up to a nearby viewing platform we are nearly to one of our favorite places in the world - the Sengen Shrine - and onward to Motsuko. The trip never fails to thrill us with sights of the familiar and the new, the delicious and the strange. I can't recommend it enough. And to that end, here's a complete list of links to get you started on a homemade adventure of your own. A few thoughts on where to stay and what to do... Bike Touring in Kawaguchiko - A quick run-down of local sights to take in by bicycle. Our version of this has since changed, but this route is a good place to start. Do-It-Y

Samurai Farmers

Yosuke Okuba at the United Nations University Farmers Market. Two weeks ago I met Satoshi Umezawa at the United Nations University Farmers Market, bought some beets, and found inspiration. Moments later, drawn to his table by the citrus for sale there, I met the representative of another grower with another amazing story to tell. Yosuke Okuba comes each week to sell fruit from his family orchard in Ehime, a western prefecture of Shikouku Island. Famous for its pilgrimage route as well as its many orchards, I remember marvelling during our WWOOF experience there not just at the sandy soil, but at the hillsides draped with orchards. Everywhere we looked there was citrus - mountains dripped with the orange fruit while the roadside stands bulged with fruit. Set against the bright blue sky of those January days and the ocean's deep blue of those January days it was a magical landscape. Yosuke's family started farming there at the end of the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). Like a

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Sunday, June 16th

Mushroom logs at a farmer's market in Matsumoto. Today's simply rocking with markets all over the city. I'm always a bit hard-pressed on this middle weekend to decide which one to visit. The Earth Day Market is my reliable source for everything from rice to vegetables to tea to fruit for jam and marmalade. The Ebisu Market is where I find new things to try and visit with growers from Okutama in Tokyo's western regions. Nippori is where I find killer manju, awesome farmers from Aizu Wakamatsu, and always something new to try. The UNU Market and Yurakacho are regular markets where I always meet fun new people with good stories to tell. How to choose? Ebisu Market Sunday, June 16th 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 Earth Day Market Sunday, June 16th I could go wax on forever about how great thi

Tokyo Farmer's Markets: Saturday, June 15th

Seedlings galore at a Matsumoto farmer's market. Wet, wet, wet. Gray and gray. My umbrella is my new best friend, but I can't say I'm really complaining. It is amazing to see how happy everything is at the farm . The vegetables suddenly seem stronger, taller, greener. As is usual for this time of year they look as though they have something to say. And I might not like it, especially as I approach to harvest. (My imagination is going a bit wild this morning.) I digress. That does mean that tables at markets will begin to groan with the weight of the season. Don't be shy about getting a little damp and heading off to the market! Nippori Farmer's Market Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th 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-be

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th

Just one of the wonderful booths at the UNU Farmers Market! Oh, indeed the rainy season seems to finally be living up to the wetter part of its name. And in due time, too. Later spring and summer crops surely are soaking up every blessed drop of water. I'll not complain about wet shoes and dripping umbrellas on the train to ensure a sweet bite of corn or watermelon later on. Not too mention it might just get me another beet or two , too! So don a raincoat, grab an umbrella or just pack a waterproof bag and head on out to one of this weekend's fine, fine selection of farmer's markets! Ebisu Market Sunday, June 16th 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 Earth Day Market Sunday, June 16th I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming. Inste

Thursday Snapshot: Fish-shaped Soy Sauce Container

Bento soy sauce container. Nara Prefecture, Japan We spent part of a recent vacation visiting and helping out on a natural farm in Nara Prefecture. Kazuto and Erina Hamma of Hamma Farm were glorious hosts and teachers who we now think of as friends. I learned a great deal while weeding with them both, which left plenty of time for talking. They graciously and patiently answered the questions I incessantly peppered them with, including why fish-shaped bento soy sauce containers kept appearing under the tea bushes. It turns out that the organic farmer who worked the fields before them used the namagomi (raw garbage or compost)  to fertilize the fields. A few of these little guys made it through the sorting process.

Tsukiji Outer Market Tour with Yukari Sakamoto Article at JapanTourist

One of the many shops visited during the tour of Tsukiji's Outer Market. Way back in the wilds of March, I took a much-longed for tour of Tsukiji. Yukari Sakamoto, chef and author of the book and website  Food, Sake, Tokyo , guided a small group of us around the bustling outer market of one of Tokyo's most famous institutions. Words like delightful, engaging, fascinating, fun, delicious, surprising, and eye-opening all spring to mind as I recall this tour. I'd go again in a heartbeat, especially with Yukari as my guide. Read my full review of it at JapanTourist , then go sign up for one .

Umeya: From the office to the field

Satoshi Umezawa and my beloved beets at the UNU Farmer's Market. Most weekends I go to a farmers market. Whether I'm in Tokyo , Madison , Hida Takayama , or Hamamatsu , I venture out in search of local food grown by local farmers. So far, I've been lucky enough to find one everywhere I go. It's been simply amazing. But that amazingness doesn't always translate into motivation. Sometimes, like yesterday, I just want to stay home and make jam and read. However, I was on my way. No whining. At least, not out loud. I adjusted my hat and trudged up the hill from Shibuya Station to the UNU Farmers Market . Of course, it was amazing. On my first traverse around the market stalls I spotted beets. In Japan, beets are remarkable. I rarely see them except in my own garden or dreams that result in my pillow being covered in drool. (A little gross, but I do love those little purple earthy gems.) I stopped on my second tour, the buying leg, to talk to the vendor and bu

Fallen

Taken during a hike last year near Komatsu.  Following is a complete departure from what I usually write here. I never, ever write fiction. I dream about it, but it's not something I think is really for me. I'm not the kind of person who walks around with stories in her head that need to be told. I'm the kind of person that walks around looking at people and thinking their story needs to be told, which is slightly different. And this is different again. I heard about this FlashMob thing , read the posting, and then didn't think about it again. I have lots of friends who do this, but not me. (See above.) Then on my run this morning this story popped into my head. I muttered it to myself while I sprinted (a relative terms) most of the way home so I could write it down. My new mantra is always carry a notebook and pen. You just never know. Tomorrow, back to the usual stuff. -Joan Fallen This was probably bad. How long had she been lying here? She could feel the

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Sunday, June 9th

All a-bustling at the UNU Farmers Market! Gyre Market Saturday,  June 8th and Sunday, June 9th (Probably.*) 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 *The Gyre Market schedule has been a bit wonky of late, so I'll update this as I get confirmation. 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 Map 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,

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 8th

Look for this sign just below the stairs leading to the courtyard where the market bustle begins! The following markets on in the city today, but necessarily tomorrow. Don't miss them! Gyre Market Saturday,  June 8th and Sunday, June 9th (Probably.*) 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 *The Gyre Market schedule has been a bit wonky of late, so I'll update this as I get confirmation. 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 Map Roppongi Market Every Saturday A first  visit to this market  was well worth the trek for the numbe

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 8th and Sunday, June 9th

Yummy treats at the Roppongi Hills Farmers Market! It might be rainy season, but it seems drier than usual. Hence, no excuse to not visit one of these great farmers markets this weekend! Summer vegetables should just be trickling in now, especially from Tokyo farms. This might a good time to find the first zucchini or tomatoes as well as pick up some ume for making batches of umeshu to enjoy later in the year. (If you can wait that long!) Grab a bag, a friend, and get out there to see what foodly adventures you can find! Gyre Market Saturday,  June 8th and Sunday, June 9th (Probably.*) 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 *The Gyre Market schedule has been a bit wonky of late, so I'll update this as I get confirmation. UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend affair that is great fun and feature

Thursday Snapshot: Soba Blooms

Soba in bloom. Hokkaido, Japan. A soba (buckwheat) plant in full bloom. Taken during our trip to Hokkaido last year, we were on our way to visit friends in Nakatonbetsu when we paused near this field of blooming soba. I'm a big fan of this noodle, and was pleased to get a good look at the full plant, flowers, and the coming grains. The little black bits below the flower are the soba grains still in their hulls. Why a Thursday snapshot? Each year with the Blogathon I try something new. One year I tried a "What I'm Reading" weekly post and another year I tried a weekly calendar of farmers markets in Tokyo. The latter worked very well for me and my readers. The former proved somewhat cumbersome for me and therefore faded out. I'm still reading, just not summarizing. This year I'm going to try for a Thursday Snapshot. I take A LOT of pictures. I learned in the first Blogathon to always carry my camera , and so now it has a permanent place in whatever bag

Make Your Own Mini Greenhouse

Prepping the soil in the greenhouse. Photo courtesy of ecotwaza.com Back in the wilds of April I planted a few seeds. This is not particularly remarkable given the time of year and my interest in all things growing. What was remarkable was that I planted them in an egg carton that I then placed inside a plastic bag that I then set in our sunny bedroom window. Then the things that shocks me every single time occurred: the seeds sprouted. They since turned into seedlings that have since been planted on our balcony for transformation into this years green curtain . The egg carton greenhouse has also undergone something of a transformation. While cardboard is the preferred container for its biodegradability, I recently learned the merits of plastic. (I won't advocate the use of plastic specifically, but I will advocate the use of what you have on hand.) At a recent workshop I gave at an Eco Fair in Tokyo plastic is what I had. The many smiling faces should be evidence enough t

My Five Favorite Apps

Rice cooker green tea bread chases apple. Nothing to do with apps. I just liked it.  Over the course of the Blogathon participants are asked to focus on a small handful of themes. In the past it's ranged from five favorite books to haiku to movies . Each year my initial thought is "I have no idea what to say." Then somehow the ideas and words begin to flow. It's a nice way to get pushed outside my comfort zone. This year the first theme day asks us to write about our five favorite apps. Well, I'm a farmer as much as a writer. Electronic devices and dirt don't mix; however, there are heaps of apps out there for folks like me. Farmers as well as gardeners can find tools to help them with every job under the sun and in the barn. While I remain rather old school for working in the dirt (give me a notebook, pen, and solid reference book along with a good pair of gloves) I do find a use for apps as my day goes along. Here are the five I use most. Anki -