Friday, January 31, 2014

February Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Weirdly seasonal this time of year, greenhouse-grown strawberries.
Their red color signals celebration making them a popular gift.
February is rolling in with bright skies and cold temperatures, but so far none of snow that often arrives about this time each year. A few January days even hinted at spring, but I suspect winter has a bit more in store for us. And thank heavens, as those colder temperatures make the winter greens sweeter than ever and give us a good excuse to buy all the ingredients needed for an evening of hot noodles! Not sure what to look for or what you're looking at? Never fear. Check out the first in a series about Japanese winter vegetables. They are my favorites, so I'm tying to spread the yummy word! Now, off to the market!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, February 2nd and Sunday, February 16th
Ebisu will be in full form this month with its two usual markets. 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 waiting to go home with you!
11am to 5pm
Map

Market of the Sun
Saturday, February 8th and Sunday, February 9th
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest. 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

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, February 15th
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

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, February 15th and Sunday, February 16th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. 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!
10am to 5pm

Sunday, February 23rd
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing. This month the market will be a bit of its wonderful normalness. (December and January saw special events galore!) If something exciting comes up, though, I promise to alert folks. Planning is in the works, so who knows what Fairtrade excitement might be in the air?
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, January 30, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Ice Needles in the Garden

Ice needles in the garden.
This time of year finds Jack Frost making nightly visits. Yet, the wonders he works at the farm are impressive indeed. We can't start work until about 9am because his frosty paint is still too fresh. Shortly after, though, we crunch our way out to harvest a few leaves from the greenhouse or under the row covers. And what we often see all around and underfoot are these lovely little ice needles or shimobashira in Japanese. As the ground freezes, the water is drawn up and out of the soil where it freezes in the colder air.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Elemental Thinking at the British Chamber of Commerce Journal

Candles at our local temple on New Year's Eve.
Over the past year or so I've had the pleasure of writing articles on behalf of ecotwaza for Acumen, the journal for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. It's been great fun and it's given me a wonderful excuse to explore various topics in greater detail. My latest one for January, Elemental Thinking, is up now. Don't forget to visit ecotwaza, too!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Japanese Winter Greens: A Primer

Mizuna enjoying a bit of winter sun.
Look for Japanese Winter Vegetables: A Primer, Part Two, here!

People are often surprised to find out that the Tokyo farm where I help out is busy with winter vegetables. "But it's too cold," they say, and their surprise increases as I start to list the variety of things currently in the field: daikon, kabu, and all the leafy greens I have come to know and adore since arriving here five years ago. Many of these vegetables thrive in these conditions -  cold, frosty nights and bright, sunny days - and don't mind the long stints without rain so typical of this season.

The cold weather, in fact, is beneficial. "Komatsuna is sweeter and darker after a frost," said C-chan the other morning as we worked preparing the days harvest for shipment. And indeed, the plants looked particularly vivid and delicious as they lay on the wooden table. Like kale and brussel sprouts, komatsuna produces more sugars during a frost in an effort to protect itself from the cold. Water moves to the roots, which results in a greater concentration of sugars in the leaves. A brilliant survival tactic that makes for a delightful salad or soup!

Winter greens are by far my favorite Japanese vegetables. Their flavor, texture, nutrition, and colors make them hands-down winners in my book over almost anything the summer season brings. Raw in salad, blanched like shungiku, zipped into a stir-fry, or swirled into nabe (hot pot) or udon they surely will not disappoint.

Komatsuna leaf shortly before becoming salad.
Komatsuna is a Tokyo favorite that is most prevalent now in shops and at farmstands around the city. It is a wonderful green with a verdant leaf and a crunchy stem that goes well in salad or soup. (I just rough cut it into the bottom of the serving bowl and serve the soup on top. The quick cooking softens it just enough while also drawing out more color.)

Freshly harvested karashina.
Karashina (sometimes thrown in with mizuna in seed catalogs) comes in a wide variety of shapes and colors, but as its name implies - karashi (spicy)-na (leaf) - it has the softest of kicks. The farmers introduced me to it five years ago during my first winter, and its nutty flavor and lacy leaves made it an immediate favorite. Stems and all of this mustard family member are worth rough cutting into soup or salad. High in vitamins A and C as well as a nice assortment of minerals, karashina is as nutritious as it is pretty. It is also worth noting that traditional varieties of karashina resemble kale in appearance and texture, although not flavor.

Wasabina enjoying winter in the garden.
Wasabina, another spicy one, shares its name with Japan's most famous hot, green paste, but doesn't pack the same punch. (For that try some  nasturtiums - leaves as well as blooms - during the summer. Yowzers!) Usually harvested small, the softly serrated leaves sometimes have a bristly look to them. Ignore this and munch away raw in salad or slightly cooked in soup.

Mizuna, a classic nabe ingredient, can be found nearly year-round now in grocery stores, but is best during the winter months. Long, thin white stems topped with serrated green leaves, mizuna has a delicate, sweet taste perfect in salad or soup. In the field, mizuna grows thickly out from a central base stem. Before being broken up and prepared for the supermarket, plants can resemble haksai (chinese cabbage) in overall shape. If adding it to nabe, toss it in at absolutely the last minute. Too much cooking turns it to mush and it loses all its color, which is not any fun.

Next week: More winter greens and where to find the seeds!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 25th and Sunday, January 26th

A fantastical array of old-fashioned mirin at the December Earth Day Market.
More delicious than I ever thought it could be!
This final weekend of January offers a very nice selection of Tokyo markets for winter perusal. The Earth Day Market on Sunday will showcase Fairtrade chocolate for Valentine's Day, while Yurakacho recently featured some of the loveliest baked goods I've seen yet. Meanwhile, before heading for the dessert table, don't forget to gather up some winter greens, a few sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and even brussell sprouts. (Yes, for those who are fans, they seem to be making inroads!) Exciting times, indeed!

Earth Day Market
Sunday, January 26th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. Instead, I'll just insist that folks go and see for themselves what great things the market and these innovative growers are doing.
**Don't miss the "Love Chocolate Market" showcasing Fairtrade chocolate plus the opportunity to make chocolate paste from cacao beans! Fairtrade chocolate gift sets will also be available, but go early!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine!

Every Saturday and Sunday starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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.
**Look for Le Jardin Gaulois' scrumptious quiche, meringue, and homemade marshmallows!
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, January 23, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Michigan Acorns

February acorns lying in wait.


Usually we head home to America for the month of February. This year, though, due to our upcoming move and job changes we're planning to go back in August. Undoubtedly, we are looking forward to all the pleasures of a Midwest summer - swimming, picnics, biking, canoeing, bonfires on the hill, and thunderstorms - and slow sunsets that draw out the stars. However, we won't see so many of these lovely acorns on the edge of the back prairie grass field near our house in Michigan. By August a new crop will be in the works, the squirrels just beginning to think they'd better draw up that winter to-do list.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Review of Edible Cities at Permaculture Magazine

Living and farming as I do in one of the world's largest cities, I am instantly drawn to books that discuss innovative ways to grow food in an urban environment. And now that I'm preparing to move to a place where my garden will be as much on my balcony as it will be in the backyard, I'm even more interested. So, it was with great pleasure that I found a review copy of Edible Cities: Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Rooftops and Beyond by Judith Anger, Immo Fiebrig, and Martin Schynder waiting for me. What did I think? Well, read the review at Permaculture Magazine and find out!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 18th and Sunday, January 19th

Seaweed ready and raring to go at the Nippori Farmers Market!
Another beautiful winter weekend for food exploration in Tokyo! Wander out to one of these great markets to find hoshigaki, all the fixings for nabe, and a few other items you never dreamed of and probably never knew you needed. It will be pure pleasure with some good eats, too.

Ebisu Market
Sunday, January 19th
After December's little break, Ebisu should be swinging again 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

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, January 18th and Sunday, January 19th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. 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!
10am to 5pm

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, January 18th
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, January 18th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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, January 16, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Harvested Bundles of Rice

Freshly harvested bundles of rice lying in wait in the field.
As I mentioned yesterday, we took a trip this past fall to help One Life Japan harvest their rice. It was one of the coolest trips ever - excellent company, scrumptious food, and outstanding scenery - and I learned loads. In the article at Kansai Scene I mention that after we cut the stalks we laid them in bundles behind us with the stems crossed. Here's a photo of what that looked like before we started to bundle them for hanging.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Organic farming travel piece at Kansai Scene

Freshly harvested rice set to dry.
Farming is one of the great pleasures in my life, and so it is no surprise that many of our vacations center around this favored activity. A trip this past fall to help harvest rice with One Life Japan proved great fun and perfect subject matter for this piece over at Kansai Scene. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mottainai: Sakekasu in the Winter Kitchen


Sakekasu, purchased at our local sake shop, ready to go to work!
Last year I discovered the culinary potential of sakekasu (sake lees). Left over at the end of the sake-making process, sakekasu is, literally, the dregs of the sake barrel. The rice by this time is turned to mush, the liquid resulting from the fermentation process drained off and poured into bottles ready to be drunk. What to do? Mottainai.

Amazake, a sweet usually hot beverage, is perhaps the best known and most popular use of sakekasu. However, a bevy of other recipes and ideas exist for making the most of this winter delight.

Grilled sakekasu
My Japanese tutor is a creative cook, to say the least, and her favorite method is to shape the kasu into small patties and fry it up in a pan. "It tastes and feels like cheese," she said and suggested serving it on bread. It does indeed resemble cheese, and it matches well with a dab of yuzu marmalade, too. Another option is to toast it along with some bread in the fish grill. Delightful.

Sakekasujiru
Nabe is one of my favorite dishes in Japan, so it was with that in mind that I concocted this version of a classic dish. It would be easy to incorporate it into nabe, simply pre-soak the sakekasu before plopping it in the nabe.

Ingredients
200 grams, sakekasu (give or take)
200 ml water
600 ml dashi
4 Tara (cod) fillets, sliced into thirds*
Thinly sliced vegetables - squash, renkon (lotus root), potato, sweet potato, carrot, gobo (burdock root), and daikon - about 2 cm long matchsticks*
1 Tbsp miso*
Coarsely chopped winter greens - komatsuna, mizuna, karashina, arugula, etc.*

Set the sakekasu to soften with a bit of warm water and set aside. Simmer the cut vegetables in the water and dashi stock until soft. Add the fish and simmer another 5 minutes or so. Ladle some of the hot stock into the bowl of sakekasu and add the miso. Mix until smooth. Add the mixture to the vegetables and fish. Wait until it starts to bubble again and taste. Salt or add shoyu (soy sauce) to taste. Place winter greens in bottom of serving bowls. Ladle hot soup over the greens and serve.

*Caveats*
I used tara (cod) fillets, but the fish of choice for this recipe is shiozake (salted salmon). In the old days, this salted fish would have been the best and perhaps only way to eat salmon during the winter months. I think tofu would also make a lovely addition here in lieu of or in addition to fish.

Classic versions of this recipe usually use only potatoes, carrots, and burdock, but I love a hearty soup so I tossed in the others, all of which are also seasonal.

Again, classic versions call for a white miso, but I didn't have any. Since we're moving soon, I decided to simply use what I had on hand. I used a red miso, which was tasty although the soup was a bit more cream-colored than pure white.

Many recipes suggest blanching the greens before adding to the soup, but unless I'm making something like Goma ai shungiku I want them to show off some. Coarsely chopping means less work for me (yeah!) and the resulting quick cooking by the hot soup means a brilliant green show of color. Just what one needs in winter!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, January 11th and Sunday, January 12th

Holiday fun at Nippori's Christmas Market!
This weekend the farmers markets swing back into full schedule around Tokyo. Blustery sunshine makes a perfect environment for strolling about to find a pick of the season's best. Grab some daikon, potatoes, and even fresh udon for swirling about the evening nabe pot or some lovely bread to swipe up the remains. Oh, the possibilities are endless! Resolve to explore food this year and head on out!

Market of the Sun
Saturday, January 11th and Sunday, January 12th
The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets, Market of the Sun professes to be one of the largest. 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

Every Saturday and Sunday starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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, January 9, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Snow

One of the many beautiful scenes around Sakae Mura in Nagano Prefecture.

This holiday break we once again ventured up to Nagano Prefecture to visit friends and frolic in the snow. As our bus climbed over the mountains and snaked its way closer to Sakae Mura, we found plenty of snow-covered scenery to satisfy our taste for winter...for now.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kansai Organic Growers in Kansai Scene

Organic farmer Kitamura-san and the Murasaki Togarashi, a Nara heirloom variety.
I had the great pleasure of profiling five organic and natural growers for the January, 2014 issue of Kansai Scene. The article gave me the perfect excuse to spend a day roaming about a natural and an organic farm in Nara Prefecture, plus a chance to talk with two new growers at Hello Organic Farm in Kyoto. Such great fun with fantastic people growing terrific food and caring for the earth. Read on and get to know them for yourself!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hoshigaki: Winter's Sweet Treat


Homemade hoshigaki (dried persimmon)
 Hoshigaki (dried persimmons) bring a sweet edge to the cold of winter in Japan. Harvested in late fall and left to dry in sun and wind, the small orange orbs can be seen hanging under eaves in the countryside as well as in the city. Made from the tannic variety of persimmon, a fruit that if attempted raw will cause the mouth to irresistibly pucker in disbelief from a near painful bitterness, these not always so attractive fruit are an utter delight.

Like so many things, the process itself is simple but the time required ample. Hoshigaki want nearly three weeks to hang outside and need a bit of special care in the meantime. After about a week, once the outer surface has hardened some, a gentle daily massage helps keep the inside soft as caramel. (If this step is occasionally forgotten, a good dip in hot water should loosen them right up.) If it rains, the strings should be brought in and hung in an out of the way place until the shower passes.

Step One: Harvest the persimmon.
Make sure those you pick are mostly bug and blemish free, and, most importantly, tannic. The sweet ones should simply be eaten. There is no shortage of either kind in Japan, and often they go unpicked and uneaten except by birds. Don't be shy to ask a neighbor about gathering. Surely, the request will go over well if an offering of the end product is worked into the bargain. Try to keep the stem in a T shape for easy tying. (See photo.)

Step Two: Peel.
Some advocate using a vegetable peeler, but I stuck with my trusty paring knife. I made a circle just below the base of the stem (see photos) and then cut down from there. Traditionally, the peel would have been saved and dried for making pickles. I composted mine, but hope to do try the pickles next year.

Peeled kaki (persimmon) waiting for their string.

Step Three: Sterilize.
Again, some advocate a good plunge in boiling water, but I opted for shochu. A friend had some leftover from a recent party, and happily passed along the bottle. I filled a small glass and plunged in the fruit completely before setting it back down on the plate.

Step Four: String.
On one set I used a plastic sort of twine, but the remaining sets I used a hemp string that I also use in the garden. It can be composted at the end of the day, and it simply looked nicer with the fruit. It was also much easier to work with. I wrapped the string around the base of the stem, spacing the fruit about three or four inches apart. Some do a long string of persimmon while others, like the residents of Shirakawago, do a series of short strings along a length of pole.
Just hung kaki (persimmon).

Step Five: Hang.
Traditionally hung under the wide eaves of kominka (Japanese farmhouses) your persimmon should find a similar home where they can get plenty of sun and air but remain dry if rain comes.

Step Six: Massage and wait.
As mentioned earlier, the persimmon need to hang for about a total of three weeks. As they dry, the outer skin will become hard and change color. Some become a deeper orange while others, like mine, turned nearly black. It is not attractive but it is not deadly. A gentle massage keeps the innards soft and pleasantly chewy. Birds may be an issue as the fruit is generally free game for them, but just keep an eye on them.

Step Seven: Eat.
After three weeks, the hoshigaki should be ready to enjoy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

January Farmers Markets in Tokyo

Miwako Houjo of Present from the Goat and her magnificent bread at the Earth Day Market.
Welcome to a brand new year of Tokyo farmers markets! Exciting times, indeed, for wandering about the markets in the city to see what the first harvests of the year bring to the table. Komatsuna will abound as will other greens like karashina, cabbage, haksai (chinese cabbage), horenso (spinach) and satosai (a lettuce-like relative of bak choi). Broccoli may be making an appearance, only sweeter for the frosty mornings it has endured. Daikon and kabu should be present in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Don't be shy. There are pickles to be made!

Ebisu Market
Sunday, January 19th
After December's little break, Ebisu should be swinging again 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, January 26th
I could go wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. 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, January 18th and Sunday, January 19th
Another great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. A small but lively market, particularly on Saturday, it is well worth the trip. 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!
10am to 5pm

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, January 18th
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, January 18th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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 starting with Saturday, January 11th
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, January 2, 2014

Thursday Snapshot: Tea Blossoms


We gathered up these tea blossoms during a late fall visit to Hamma Farm in Nara Prefecture. Once harvested the Hamma's dry them and ship them off to a little cafe where they get served in steaming cups of tea.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!


This cheerful little face greeted us on a recent walk along an Ebisu backstreet. Seemed the perfect way to greet a brand new year and all the glorious potential it holds: fragile, cute, creative, and eco-friendly.