|Akigawa Farmers Market|
While we didn't find orchards we did find plenty of fruit as we walked for three hours that sunny afternoon near Ginza, and we had a great time. Lionel, a Frenchman who has called Tokyo home for more than two decades, is fascinating. If my feet hadn't been so tired and my bag so heavy from all the foodly loot he encouraged me to buy, I would have walked another few hours.
|Akigawa market interior with flowers.|
Located in far western Tokyo, the Akigawa Market is a JA market that features produce and products from the surrounding fields and farms. And when I say surrounding, I literally mean 'surrounding.' About a ten minute walk from the Higashi-Akiru Station, the path took us past small houses with little gardens up a hill to find big gardens and farms with houses scattered between. Sweet corn, squash, tomatoes, eggplant along with a cheerful selection of flowers grew as far as the eye could see. A few direct sale stands could be seen, too, along with their farmers working away in an already hot morning sun. The mountains that are normally just a hazy ruffle in the west from our western suburb are clear. Lionel tells me that the plateau we now walk on is lined on one side by the Tama River and on the other by the Tamagawajousui, an Edo Period engineering feat that brought fresh water to Tokyo and turned the Musashino Plain where I live into farms.
|The best chicken grown in Tokyo.|
To be fair, Lionel is French which I believe wraps his DNA with a heightened sense of culinary awareness, but I could be biased. But he also lives in Japan, a country with an extraordinary food culture, and so I think his delicious food sensors are particularly sensitive. This also means that as his companion that morning I could take advantage of all of that to find the most scrumptious of the scrumptious and get the story to boot. It was a bit of heaven.
"The corn from here is famous. I will buy some," said Lionel, but when we saw the price - 980 yen for a bag - we both stopped short. Luckily, nearby we spotted smaller bags containing just three ears, still in their husks. Maybe the other bag is value-added since the corn came pre-shucked, but three is about the right serving size for our household. And I think having the husks on means it will stay fresher longer.
|Caramels from the Tokyo dairy. Yummy.|
|Photos of farmers who sell at the market.|
|Awesome locally made baked goods.|
Food vendors out front sell bento, grilled fish, and omelets to eat while shoppers get their corn boxed up to send as a traditional summer gift to friends and family. Even though my backpack is heavy with loot we opt for a slightly longer route back to the station so I can take a closer look at those farm fields. I add to my list of local crops blueberries, wheat, potatoes, and satoimo.
"I should get a commission," laughs Lionel as I shift the packs weight and I agree. His pleasure in this place is infectious, but it's also his knowledge that makes it so wonderful.
Akigawa Farmers Market
Nearest station: Higashi-Akiru
9am to 5pm
Directions: Turn right out of the station and head up the street that heads up a hill. Turn left on the busy street. Walk another 5 minutes. The market will be on your left.