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Showing posts from 2016

Shimane Prefecture: My Latest Travel Piece Exploring Japan

Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture. A recent trip to Shimane Prefecture on Japan's western side proved to be one of the most fascinating experiences yet. These trips are never long enough, and I'm always left wishing I had just one more day or a little more time to see just one more thing, ask one more question, hear one more story. Shimane was no exception. A remarkable little corner of Japan steeped in history and tradition, legend weaves itself through history and daily life. Read my article for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan , and then head off to discover it for yourself.

December Farmers Markets in the Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Atsu Suzuki from Nice Time Farming at the Nagoya Organic Farmers Market. Winter may be arriving in fits and starts, but the fields are pouring forth some of the best produce yet. Look for rice harvested this fall along with daizu (soy beans) in all colors, shapes, and flavors, as well as vibrant winter greens and the first wave of sunny citrus. Holiday shopping, it should be noted, is made easy with a visit to any of these markets. Presents or simply stocking the cupboard will be a delight! Market of the Sun Saturday, December 10th and Sunday, December 11th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old, Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche) , professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market. 10am to 4pm Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents. Kic

Gardening Beyond the Election

Pea shoots and onions in November. I wrote the other day that I was as prepared for a negative result from this election as I was for my beet seeds not to sprout. I was mistaken. On some very deep level that I was not aware of, I was prepared for neither outcome. I am sorry to report that the beet seeds have not yet appeared, which has me worried that my dreams of beet pickles won't come true. They are a taste of home that I love - earthy, rich, and a little bit spicy - but I may have to plant again. I suspect the caterpillar I spotted the other day while watering feasted his way along the rows, working in the coziness of sun-warmed soil. I am working on a solution even as I remain a little bit hopeful. While I'm not a fan of said caterpillar just now, I know need to understand who he is and why he's there. I'm not angry at the caterpillar, but I am disgusted with a common system for dealing with him. "Just spray," says one of my fellow gardeners, and

Hadano Early Winter Garden Update and Ramble

Living mulch of volunteer kales and norabo between cabbage plants. A new season is well underway despite unseasonably warm temperatures. I just removed the rogue eggplant (planted by a friendly neighbor gardener without my knowledge), which means nearly all of the summer vegetables are gone. It seemed a good time to offer an update on the garden. The cabbage and broccoli seedlings are lifting the row cover up some, and soon I'll have to remove it. Under their broad leaves an assortment of kales and norabo spread a green carpet that I harvest almost daily. I'd laid the dried stems from this past season's plants on the soil and let them compost. This was exactly what I had hoped for: a living, edible mulch pretty as a picture. The leaves are well nibbled by other creatures, but I'm happy to share a little. A nice volunteer crop of parsley has sprung up where I again laid the dried stems from a spent plant. It has popped up in a few other places, too, and those tha

November Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Tohoku and Kumamoto supporters at the Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi! While Fuji-san sports an early winter coat, the rest of the world is savoring the sight of bright orange kaki (persimmon) for drying or for s traight-up-off-the-tree-nibbling . New rice is in from the fields, and sake is brewing away, too. It's time for steaming nabe and dreams of dark, leafy greens waving from the fields. It is, in short, the beginning of a glorious season here. Don't miss a bite of it! Market of the Sun Saturday, November 12th and Sunday, November 13th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old,  Market of the Sun  professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to be all about the grape. 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 Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b Kichijoji Harmon

Weed Killing Without Chemicals

This swallowtail caterpillar is motivation to find chemical-free weeding methods. I have mixed feelings about weeds and tend to use them as mulch or compost in the garden. However, there are plenty of other ways to deal with them, too. Attainable Sustainable makes a number of great suggestions including mowing, smothering, making good use of chickens, and eating them (the weeds, not the chickens, necessarily) among others. You can read the full post here and my thoughts on purslane, the edible weed, here . Joan Bailey writes about food, farming, and farmers markets with a little bit of travel thrown in for good measure.  Get in touch  to learn more about food in Japan or read some of her other work  here .

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

October Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Best baked goods ever on a bicycle! Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi As temperatures drop and winter vegetables begin to appear, go on out and welcome the sunshine at one of these great markets. The rice harvest should be rolling in , literally, by the bagful so scoop up a kilo or two along with sweet potatoes for a great traditional autumn dish. Or just admire the many squash and the early daikon that will surely spice up any meal! Market of the Sun Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th The newest of Tokyo's farmers markets at two years old,  Market of the Sun  professes to be one of the largest, and this month looks to be all about the grape. 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 Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi Sunday, October 16th Early birds o

Rice Harvest for Sammu Tambo Art This Weekend!

This is the 2015 design. You'll just have to go out there, eat the kimchi, and see this year's for yourself! Farmers make good friends, and they make good community members. Nagisa and Tomohito Minowa are no exception, and for the second year in a row they are working with other fantastic members of their town on a tambo (rice field) art project. They are having loads of fun with it, and this weekend's event promises to be one of the best yet. Here is my article about their first project and the other great stuff happening with the Minowa's, Tambo Art, and Soma. Register quick and then head on out to one of the prettiest and most fun places in Chiba for a great time and amazing lunch. (Try the kimchi. It's seriously the best ever.) Sammu Tambo Art Harvest Festival Saturday, September 24th 9am - 3pm 2,000 yen (includes lunch and tons of fun) Register here .

My Article on Mountain Huts at Metropolis Magazine

Me and Sonbutsu Sansou's professional mouser. Hiking, whether in Hokkaido, Nagano, or here in our Kanagawa backyard, has been one of our great pleasures since moving to Japan. What makes it extra special here are the mountain huts - yamagoya and sansou - where hikers can stay before returning home or exploring further into the mountains. Read my recommendations for a few within reasonably easy reach of Tokyo , and then head out to to find some fun!

September Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Roos Roast staff cheerful and perhaps caffeinated! Serving generous cups of their most delicious brews at the Ann Arbor Famers Market. Ann Arbor, Michigna. Typhoons come and typhoons go in this blustery month that makes March look like a lamb at best. Don't miss the chance, though, to duck out to one of these great markets and find some of the best the season has to offer. Squash in all shapes and sizes as well as nashi (Japanese pears), grapes galore, and a bounty of vegetables are all just waiting to go home with you and snuggle up in the kitchen. Sound awkward? Don't be silly. It's just plain delicious.  Earth Day Market Sunday, September 25th 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. Come find some good food and fun and enjo

August Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Fresh veg at my first US chokubaijo! Montello, Wisconsin Summer is upon us in all its hot and humid glory. Pick up ingredients for a cool summer meal or tasty beverage (child-friendly or adult) to help keep things cool. Summer crops - tomatoes, goya, eggplant, cucumbers, and onions - abound, and can be paired with all that fresh garlic that should just be emerging from its long slumber now. Do be careful of odd market dates and times as Obon is upon us. Check websites before you go and enjoy! Earth Day Market Sunday, August 7th 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. Come find some good food and fun and enjoy! 10am to 4pm, Rain or shine! Map Market of the Sun Saturday, August 6th** **Hold on! This month the market is only

My article on biking the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido at Metropolis

A view along the Shimanami Kaido. One of our great pastimes since coming to Japan is bike touring . Unlike the flocks of cyclists that whiz along highways and byways here, we wear no spandex aboard sleek road bikes. We ride folding bikes and wear comfortable clothes with our trailers pulled along behind. These tours have been a source of great joy and adventure, even when it rains or the wind blows a bit too strong. Here is a short summary of our wanderings along one of the most glorious bike routes Japan has offered yet. Read all about it over here at Metropolis .

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, July 30th and Sunday, July 31st

The Roppongi Market! It's hard to believe, but July is drifting away with some sun and an unexpected amount of rain. My tomatoes remain joyous, although I will be away while most of them ripen. Luckily, a friend has agreed to eat them while I'm gone. She may also get the watermelon, but I figure that's only fair. It's better than having it go to waste. The farmer's markets, however, roll on! Don't miss these great regular ones happening this weekend, and remember the Kamakura Farmers Market is actually best during the week! Kamakura Farmers Market Every day A small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in yet another former capital city, the Kamakura Market is a small but wonderful venue. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal infused bread while you're there. 7am until sold out Map Ebisu Market Every Sunday Ebisu Market management are going all-out th