Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

December Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

My anpogaki teacher in Minami Alps.  Where has the time gone? It seems only yesterday we finished harvesting the tomatoes and started the garden clean-up, and today I'm bundled up against the cold. Fuji-san is covered with snow, and the winter vegetables are coming in apace. I've done a bit of traveling, some writing, and lots of eating. All of it has been good, interesting, and fun. I'll share it as the month rolls out to bring everyone up to speed. Meanwhile, there is plenty of wonderful foodly stuff to be found at farmers markets this month. Markets are the perfect place to find gifts, if you ask me. None of us really needs any more stuff, but we do love to eat! It's the perfect excuse (as though one were really needed!) to sample, ask questions, and buy that dreamy jar of jam or perfectly golden loaf of bread. Go for it and happy holidays! Ebisu Market Sunday, December 7th and Sunday, December 21st Don't miss the opportunity to head to a nifty part o

November Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Kabu ready for nibbling! November snuck in with a bit of cold wind and a streak of orange beginning to run across the mountains outside my window. The nearby rice fields are all harvested and turning green again with the little after sprouts. Some industrious growers have planted cabbage and haksai (Chinese cabbage) while other fields are given over to broccoli, daikon, and the usual round of winter vegetables . It is a joy to see those green leafy favorites popping up everywhere, which means they'll be at one of the below markets, too! Ebisu Market Sunday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 16th 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.) It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good , an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiti

Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 25th and Sunday, October 26th

Deep in the throes of October should find the area market tables groaning with autumn produce, freshly harvested rice, and the last of the summer goodies. Baked goods and lovely picklely bits, too, abound at these markets, so don't be shy about sampling and finding a new favorite. Some of the most innovative folks in the kitchen also happen to work the fields. There is more than a little bit of gastronomical fun to be had out there! Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask! 10am to 6pm Look for the tables when you step out the gate! UN University Market Every Saturday and Sunday A massive weekend aff

Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 18th and Sunday, October 19th

Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! If you missed last weekend's Market of the Sun with its Italian theme, head on over to Ebisu to enjoy all sorts of traditional vegetables, fruits, recipes, and products. There is heaps of fun to be had, and not just with pasta, of course. And don't forget the Oiso Market returns to its morning schedule of fun in the sun at the port! Ebisu Market Saturday, October 18th and Sunday October 19th 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.) The weekend event promises to feature Italian produce, foods and more. It's worth noting, too, that  Do One Good , an animal NPO will be on hand with some of the cutest dogs ever waiting to go home with you! 11am to 5pm Map Koenji Farmer's Market Sat

Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 11th and Sunday, October 12th

Natural farming organization at UNU Farmers Market. Stop by and say hello! A little rain, a little sun and gradually cooling temperatures means October is well underway. The change in seasons, though, only means a change in the available offerings at the area markets. Head on out to find the best produce around from growers more than happy to chat about recipes, growing techniques, and just about anything under the sun. See you at the market! Market of the Sun Saturday, October 11th and Sunday, October 12th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets,  Market of the Sun  professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to have a bit of an Italian theme, too. Cheese, anyone?. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, it's worth a stop for a selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals that at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm No map but step out of Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A ch

October Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Region

Edible houzuki (ground cherries) at the UNU Market. Best 100 yen ever spent! October comes in with that low slant of light and more than a few hints of rain as typhoons seems to still be coming and going. Autumn crops - squash, sweet potatoes, and myoga - are in while summer ones - tomatoes, eggplants, and okra - are finishing up. The rice harvest, too, is rolling in, so look for the seasons first on the tables this weekend. Moments of note are that the Earth Day Market should be back on this month and that the Oiso Market returns to its morning schedule. Happy nibbling one and all! Tokaidaigakumae Organic Market No word yet on a market for this month after a well-deserved August break.   Ginger and Pickles  is worth a visit any time, though! Ebisu Market Sunday, October 5th. Saturday, October 18th and Sunday October 19th 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 ev

Thursday Snapshot: Tiny Jizo in HIda Takayama

Tiny jizo statue in Hida Takayama. Last year while my sister-in-law and I roamed the markets of Hida Takayama, we spotted this charming Jizo statue and friends at a local shrine. Despite the cliche, I will say I was utterly enchanted.

Vermicomposting over at Ecotwaza

Photo courtesy of James Kemp at grege. I am a big fan of worms, and I'm a big fan of compost. So, it was with great pleasure that I penned this month's piece at Ecotwaza about vermicomposting . Thanks to James Kemp at grege, importer to Japan of the Can-O-Worms vermicomposter,  for his lovely interview and photos, too!

Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets: Saturday, September 20th and Sunday, September 21st

Lovely and delicious heirloom appleas at the Portage Farmers Market in Wisconsin. UPDATE: THE EARTH DAY FARMERS MARKET HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR THIS MONTH. I'm sorry to say that this is true. Organizers decided it would be best to hold off for this month in light of worries about dengue fever. They look forward to seeing us all in October, though! Welcome to the most farmers-market-y weekend of the month! A glorious selection of spots to go for the foodly minded among us. Groaning tables abound at each and every one, although this weekend is the last for Oiso's Night Market. A lovely extravaganza of food, art, and music it should be given serious consideration. The other usual culprits surely will be as terrific as ever. Check out a recipe , make a list, and head on out! Ebisu Market Sunday, September 21st 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

Thursday Snapshot: Making Kuntan

Making kuntan after the rice harvest. Farming is my great joy and pleasure, so last year when we were able to help harvest rice in Nagano I jumped at the chance. Before and after our days work I spent plenty of time roaming the village to see how other people did it and what other things were happening. One of the most common sights was this: the making of kuntan . The momigara (rice hulls) are piled up around a fire, which slowly charcoalizes them. The black hulls are then spread on the fields in spring to help melt the snow and arm the soil while also giving it a nice energy boost. Brilliant.

Bassanova Ramen Review in Metropolis Magazine

Scrumptiousness defined at Bassanova Ramen. Ramen is not one of my favorite foods, but because my favorite spouse has a particular passion for it I end up eating a fair amount. One could say that I am something of an accidental expert. One of my top three ramens is Bassanova in Shindaita. (I'm salivating now just thinking about it.) So it seemed only logical that I would write a review of it for Metropolis Magazine . Iitadakimasu!

Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets: Saturday, September 13th and Sunday, September 14th

Glorious bouquet at the Vang Family Farm table. Portage Farmers Market, Wisconsin. A lovely holiday weekend awaits with a nice selection of the usual markets ready to serve up fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits and more to those venturing out. Eggplant , squash , cucumbers , and tomatoes should still be available, although keep an eye out for seedlings of some winter vegetables . Nashi , too, should be making a strong showing, and that should not be missed. My mouth is watering at the thought... Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables await. Joining them are baked goods, rice, miso, and all the other fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, too, so be sure to ask! 10am to 6pm Look for the tables when you step out the gate! UN University Mar

Thursday Snapshot: Blooming Port-a-potties

Morning glory curtain I have long stated that my favorite toilet ever was a toilet set on a hillside behind my friend's house in Guatemala. There were no walls or roof, just me and the valley swooping away before while the far green mountains ran along the other side. If it rained, I took an umbrella and sat. If it was sunny, I wore a hat. The entrance. This set of port-a-potties comes in at a close second, though, with its drapery of cool green leaves and bright blue blossoms. I gave serious thought to 'taking a rest' here even though I had no real need. Across the street from an elementary school and next to a mechanic's shop, I am sure it is something of a neighborhood constitutional institution.

September Tokyo and Yokohama Area Farmers Markets

Casing out the heirloom tomatoes at the Portage Farmers Market in Wisconsin. September arrives with a bit of heat, a bit of rain and wind, and hopefully will round out with some cooler temperatures and bright days. We've been wining our way about the American Midwest savoring good beer, good food, a few early apples, and enjoying our first summer in six years. Delightful and wonderful barely cover how wonderful it has been. However, I am looking forward to getting back to the markets here and seeing what's happening. See you there! Tokaidaigakumae Organic Market No word yet on a market for this month after a well-deserved August break.   Ginger and Pickles  is worth a visit any time, though! Ebisu Market Sunday, September 7th and Sunday, September 21st 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 veget

Thursday Snapshot: Crocosmia or the lovely orange flower

Crocosmia crocosmiliflora in bloom This little orange bloomer is a member of the iris family that started out in South Africa and has since wandered the globe in ever varying forms. It is not a native, of course, of Japan, but can be found in almost every garden. I do love those cheerful blooms, a hallmark of summer that I enjoy inifinitly more than the oppressive heat and humidity. September will see them start to fade, but I'll eagerly search them out next year when summer drives me out in search of ice cream.

Thursday Snapshot: Saroma's Pumpkin Arch

Saroma's pumpkin arch heavy with fruit. Last September we ventured north to Hokkaido to say goodbye to a dear friend, visit others, and together remember the joy and adventure we all shared. One of our stops included Saroma, a town that has an utterly fantastic pumpkin festival each year. And let me just say, they know how to celebrate a vegetable: parades, live music, games, fireworks, and, of course, heaps of lovely pumpkin-based foods. This year we will be in America visiting family and friends, meaning that our annual trek to our favorite place in Japan will be delayed. It feels odd to not be biking the seashore or hiking in the mountains , but we will plan to return again in the winter. Until then, Ezo!

Thursday Snapshot: Mushroom

Freshly showered! Again spotted while out on a hike near our place in Kanagawa this little fellow was too colorful and robust not to snap. A morning shower left the path still damp, which made the trail a bit slippery but ever brighter in color. I was happy to pause to capture this blushing bloomer.

Thursday Snapshot: Negjibana (sprial flower) in the garden

Nejibana (twisting flower) in my garden. This lovely flower, perhaps no taller than 7cm, greeted me one morning in early July as I walked in the garden at our place in Kanagawa. A member of the orchid family, Nejibana (twisting flower) is a member of the Spiranthes family. Relatives can be found globally, although it seems the Japanese branch of the family prefers pink.

Thursday Snapshot: Ajisai (Hydrangea) in bloom

Ajisai (hydrangea) in bloom in early July. Ajisai (hydrangea) are long done, but this variety was too interesting to not share. Spotted on a hike near our home in Kanagawa, this one featured the tiny and slightly curled blooms seen here. The resulting visual texture intrigued my fellow hikers enough that I had to wait in line to snap this.

Compost: How to use compost

Happy impatiens with their compost home. Even if growing space is tight, a compost bin can make a big difference to a garden. It is well worth setting up, whether homemade or a snazzy purchased one, for the benefits it offers. It means less garbage to the landfill, which also means fewer purchased garbage bags. It means less potting soil, and it definitely eliminates the need for inorganic fertilizers. (These are made from petroleum products, which are not healthy or delicious for the soil or the grower.) Compost can be used in containers as well as in the garden as a mulch, as a soil additive, and as a tea . It brings life giving microbes and other creatures to plants and places in the garden that may be in dire need. It provides hearty nutrition for plants, which in turn makes them healthier and disease-resistant. Spread a layer of compost around established garden plants for a nutrition boost. Top it with standard mulch (straw, grass clippings, or weeds with their roots tur

August Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets

Two young farmers from Aizu Wakamatsu at the Nippori Farmers Market. Even as I type out this schedule the cicadas are singing and the temperatures, too, hum along at steady pitch. It does not bear mentioning that the humidity is also right up there. Tomatoes, basil, beans, and other summer treats are enjoying every moment of this, although I cannot say that I share their sentiment. However, as I much cold spicy cucumber or sip a cold glass of umehachimitsu I find relief. Venture out with hat, backpack, sunscreen and cold refreshment of choice to one of these fantastic markets to savor the heat! Tokaidaigakumae Organic Market Sunday, August 3rd This fledgling market is worth a visit, particularly for those out in this neck of the woods, not only for the diverse selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, but for the awesome venue. Ginger and Pickles is easily one of the best little secrets around, and visitors can find both excellent local produce and some scrumptious vegan fare

Thursday Snapshot: Praying Mantis in the Garden

Watch out! Praying mantis on the hunt. This little fellow was spotted roaming about near my new garden in Kanagawa. Tiny but fierce and ready to feast on any unwanted critters that come near my tomatoes, beans, ginger, and zucchini. There's plenty of places for him to hide as I've left many things grow around my cardboard garden in an attempt to see what will happen. So far, things are responding well to their external green companions, enjoying the shade, pollinators, and other beneficials like this guy.

Compost: How to make it

Our lovely compost bowl. Second in a series on compost - what it is, how to do it, and how to use it. A special entry for urban growers will also be included along with a list of further resources. Compost usually begins in the kitchen. A bowl lined with newspaper (carbon) gets filled up with vegetable an fruit scraps (nitrogen). This in turn gets transferred to a bucket also lined with newspaper on the porch. The newspaper provides carbon, but it helps absorb liquids, which keeps the bucket and bowl relatively tidy. The bowl is turned upside down to empty it and the newspaper lands on top to make a nice lid. This hides it from the watchful eye of our neighborhood crows and makes it less shocking for visitors. The bucket in turn gets transferred to a bin near the garden. In Tokyo, my two bins were made of chicken wire and poles, which allowed air and water to move through freely. In Michigan, the bins were made of old pallets, which also allowed air and water to move through f

Tokyo and Yokohama Region Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th

A young farmer at Nagoya's Organic Farmers Market. As Obon Season approaches even the regularly scheduled markets begin to waiver a bit. Traditionally a time to return to ancestral homes to welcome the ghosts of ancestors, it is a season of traveling and welcoming, feasting and remembering. Farmers especially begin to turn their attention to preparing for relatives returning from cities or the afterlife, as the case may be, who often come back to their home, the family farm. It is a precious time for families, and as such, it means regular markets get rescheduled and vendors may be scarce. The proceeds from the field land on their table at home. Do venture out, but check the schedule to make sure you find the tomato you dream of and the bag of tsurumurasaki before it disappears! Futamatagawa Farmers Market - Yokohama Every Friday A charming little weekly market tucked conveniently just outside the turnstile at Futamatagawa Station in Yokohama where a nice selection of fre

Thursday Snapshot: Yamayuri or Mountain Lilies

Yamayuri (mountain lily) snapped recently on a trail near our house.  Yamayuri (mountain lilies) are some of the most dramatic of Japan's wildflowers. The end of rainy season marks the end of ajisai ( hydrangea ), another native plant here, and the beginning of these tall, slim beauties. Their time will be fleeting, but well worth the trek out to the mountains and foothills to catch a glimpse of them lighting up the forest floor. A close-up of the decadent bloom.

Compost: A Primer

My compost bins when I arrived at our new place. Compost is a gardener and farmers gold , and is probably one of the best things we can do for our planet much less our soil. Yet, for many gardeners it remains something of a mystery. The questions I often hear are: How do I make it? How do I use it? What exactly is so great about it? What can I compost? Here’s a quick primer to get folks started on making their own and putting it to good use.  What is compost? Compost is essentially a crumbly black soil-like material that results when organic matter (leaves, food waste, fish bones, coffee grounds and the filters, grass clippings, etc.) is broken down by assorted organisms living in the soil. The process tends to be rather slow, but like many good things, it is worth the wait. A teaspoon of compost, according to Lowenfels and Lewis in their classic, Teaming with Microbes, contains “up to a billion bacteria, 400 to 900 feet (150 to 300 meters) of fungal hyphae, 10,000 to 50,000 pr