Friday, July 26, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 27th and Sunday, July 28th

Garlic braids at the Sapporo Farmers Market.
Hot weather Hokkaido dreaming continues...
This weekend finds the standard round of markets that will surely be full to overflowing with summer fare and then some. Eggplants, a Japanese classic summer vegetable, should be there in abundance, as will tomatoes, cucumbers, and okra. Goya, too, should be making an appearance and string beans won't be far behind. Curry, anyone?

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, July 19, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 20th and Sunday, July 21st

Scrumptious vegetables at Sapporo's Farmers Market.
I'm Hokkaido dreaming in this Tokyo heat.
Soaring temperatures don't stop the vegetables, but they've slowed me down some. Or maybe it was the spate of cooler weather. Or that big project with ecotwaza. Or the incredible amount of work on the farm that always occurs in July and that knocks me flat by 8pm every night. Enough about me, though. Hit those markets this weekend to find the glory of the season displayed on every table. Plus, your visit will inspire the weary farmer who carted all that goodness in to the city for you to admire and eat. Pick up something delicious and give them the gumption they need to get back out there!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, July 21st
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.

Sunday, July 21st
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!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, July 20th and Sunday, July 21st
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, July 20th
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, July 20th
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, July 12, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: July 13th and 14th

Yummy sweet corn at Kawaguchiko's vegetable shop.
I'll be bike touring there this weekend. :)
Hot enough for you? Yeesh, this week has been a roaster! But what that means is heaps of good vegetables are pouring out of fields, because if there is one thing a tomato, a cucumber, an eggplant, sweet corn, and even a lovely string bean have in common is delight in heat. I feel slightly differently, of course, but when I sink my teeth into that sweet, sweet, sweet corn I forget all my troubles. Head to one of the farmers markets and give it try for yourself!

Saturday,  July 13th and Sunday, July 14th (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.

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, July 11, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Candy in China

Sweet delight on the second floor of a Beijing supermarket.
While staying in Beijing last year we stopped at a local supermarket every day to pick up food for the day. We knew we would eat out most meals, but we also like to snack. It's a great way to keep up energy throughout the day and an excellent excuse to try new foods. I also have a sweet tooth, so when we spotted the bulk candy section on the second floor I made it my duty to try as many kinds as I could. In the process, we also made friends with the Night Candy Lady. We don't speak Chinese and she doesn't speak English, but we managed to communicate beautifully. She shared her recommendations  - scrunching up her nose for not so delicious and giving a vigorous nod of approval when it was good - which were always spot on. I should have left China with a cavity.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why I Learn Japanese at Ann Arbor School Musings

Mita-san explaining his cool compost heated greenhouse. 
One of the best parts about the Blogathon is meeting a variety of writers not just from all over the world, but on a number of different topics. What always surprises me, though, is who I connect with throughout the process. I met and connected with Lisa at Intralingo where she writes about all things related to translation, and Van Waffle at Speed River Journal who writes beautifully about nature and other topics as they arise. 

This year, of course, proved the same. I met Nancy Thompson at Just a Backpack and a Rollie, and I met Ruth Kraut of Ann Arbor School Musings. Well, I should be clear. I met Ruth about seven or more years ago when I worked for a small and fantastic non-profit in Michigan. She and I have stayed in touch, and we reconnected during the 2013 Blogathon.

Ruth and I swapped posts, which was a fun challenge for me. Ruth wrote about an exchange program between Ann Arbor schools and a small town in Japan, and I wrote about learning Japanese as an adult. Writing about something other than my usual topics is a lovely way to stretch my writing muscles. It was lovely, too, to really think about how I learn Japanese and why I'm learning Japanese.  Now, back to my studying!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Growing City: A Documentary



Nick Sugihara walks around with a video camera, a notebook, and some big ideas about what he sees around him these days in Tokyo. After spending a year studying at a Japanese university here in Tokyo, Nick decided to weave a few of those big ideas together to make a documentary.

Nick is passionate about food, farming, food security, and Japan. His roamings this past year showed him much of Tokyo's concrete and steel side, but he couldn't help but notice those green edges where fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs grow. Farmers markets introduced him to growers and consumers alike who care deeply about the quality of their food, where it comes from, and how it is grown. As he met more and more urban farmers, read about urban farmers as well as worries over food security here in Japan and beyond, Nick felt the Tokyo's growing scene would make an excellent documentary.

And it will.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Sweet, sweet honey at the Sapporo Farmers Market - on now!
Temperatures are slowly climbing as is the humidity, and rainy season is winding down for the year. The garden is near to bursting with greenery, and the farm almost literally spills over with produce. The plants, weeds included, grow at least a meter over night it seems. Farmers everywhere collapse at the end of the day surrounded by the bounty from their fields, destined to rise early and repeat the same tasks over again. Visit a farmers market, buy some of that scrumptious loot to take home, and help them out a bit won't you?

Sunday, July 7th
Sunday, July 21st
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,  July 13th and Sunday, July 14th (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.

Sunday, July 21st
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!

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, July 20th and Sunday, July 21st
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, July 20th
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, July 20th
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, July 4, 2013

Thursday Snapshot: Green Pea Ice Cream

Sweet green pea ice cream bar in China. Yum.
The weather is turning hot here in Tokyo, which invariably puts me in the mood for ice cream. As I wandered through my vast selection of photos I spotted this one. Last year while traveling in China the weather was crazy hot. Like any reasonable culture, China offered ice cream often and in a fascinating variety of flavors. This one is green pea.

Japan has taught me that beans can be done very well as a dessert. I love my anko stuffed mochi, manju, or whatever else one might decide to tuck those lovely little adzuki into with some added sugar. Peas didn't seem like such a leap. It was stupendous.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Market Overivew at Just a Backpack and a Rollie

Daikon at the Ebisu Farmers Market.
One of the great benefits of the Blogathon is meeting other bloggers and writers. This year was no different. I am so pleased to have discovered Nancy Thompson and her fantastic blog, Just a Backpack and a Rollie, during the event. Nancy is working on an enviable retirement scheme: fit everything into a backpack and a rollie and go!

Nancy and I traded posts this year for the guest post exchange, and I hope to feature her trips in the future, too. Nancy covered the Portland farmers market for me this time around, but I suspect that wherever she and her luggage land next there will be a market that I hope she will be glad to tell me about.

Meanwhile, here's my post about Tokyo's farmers markets for her!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lessons Learned from my Fourth Blogathon

Our little Gooby. She didn't like change, either.
Well, I'm tired. This year the Blogathon was great as always, but really hard. I didn't have much trouble coming up with posts, but somehow it felt like a struggle to get the posts up and ready. It started to feel like a chore, which is not usual for me. I love writing here, so I've been thinking some about what might have happened.

Change.
I suspect I was a cat in a former life, which means that I am not fond of change. That is an odd thing for someone who has lived in various foreign countries, likes to travel anywhere by almost any means, and eats just about anything except internal organs. I like my routines, though, and the switch from three posts a week to seven was jarring. I came up with content, but found my writing schedule was thrown off by the extra work.

Result?
I came up with a new regular feature that I think I'm going to keep: Thursday Snapshots. It is fun to use some of the photos I've taken on various trips (see above) and chat a bit about what was happening. It's also nice to force myself to be brief. I tend to prattle on and on and on....are you still awake?

Senseless posts.
I run a weekly market calendar on Friday afternoons that lets folks know when and where there are farmers markets in Tokyo that weekend. The required daily posting meant that I had to find something for Saturday and Sunday, too. I toyed with re-running market reviews, but that would defeat the purpose of the calendar. I didn't want to lose that calendar as people rely on it to find information for their planning. So, I ran a version of the calendar for each day, respectively.

Result?
Well, I am relieved to not have to do this any more. I'll just be leaving the Friday post up all weekend until Monday. No revelations yet.

Farmers market burnout.
I feel absurd writing that, but I think I have to face the fact that I am getting a little tired of always writing about farmers markets. Perhaps to be more clear, I should say I am getting a little tired of always writing about farmers markets in the same way. Seriously, how many times can I say scrumptious or delightful or charming? The Blogathon made me realize that I need to come up with a new angle.

Based on the number of hits my weekly calendar gets (recently just under 200) I'm doing something right. I still think it's incredibly important to talk about these markets, the growers, and producers, but I and my readers probably need a new vantage point. People are going to the markets and buying. Now, I need to get them to take the next step.
 
Result? 
Currently, I'm reading and thinking, drinking coffee, staring out the window at my green curtain, and writing in my journal. I'm pondering a way to partner with or model future work after that done at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems in Wisconsin. I'm thinking about possible feature articles for Kansai Scene and Metropolis, and a few column ideas for Outdoor Japan. What do my readers need to make the next step? What is that next step? Back to reading, thinking, coffee....

Now...
A new month is underway, and there's no shortage of exploring still to be done here in Japan and at the farmers markets. Plus, I managed to fit in a little rice cooker bread experimentation, rhubarb fermenting, and there's a jam idea just waiting for my Saturday morning. Oh, not to mention the garden in all its rainy season glory! So much to write, so little time.