Monday, February 29, 2016

Hokkaido Fun

A leisurely stroll on the beach at Shikotsuko.
Last week took us up north to one of our favorite places - Hokkaido - to visit old friends and enjoy some time together in the snow. The trip did not disappoint. While we didn't make it to the Snow Festival, I didn't mind. We snow-shoed through deep woods and next to a river that poured out of a half-frozen waterfall and then slurped up steaming bowls of ramen. I took a long walk in the snow, enjoying that freezing feeling that invigorates me like nothing else and followed it up with a long soak in a local sento. While I'm glad to be home and excited to be going to Nepal, I'm so very grateful for those days of real winter.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Japan Brewers Cup article up at Metropolis

A few of my fellow researchers hard at work at the Japan Brewers Cup.
Over the past few years it has been my great pleasure to sip and savor revolution. Japanese craft beer is making steady headway, always improving the taste and playing with ingredients. It is also great fun to see how many other people are also discovering the great variety of flavors and styles. A recent trip to the Japan Brewers Cup gave us and a group of friends the chance to enjoy some of the best. Read all about it here in my article over at Metropolis, and then wander out to find some to try for yourself!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st

Yurakucho Farmers Market always full of regional fun!
A brilliant weekend for farmers markets! Bundle up and head on out to find the busiest weekend of the month for markets in the area. After all that chocolate from Valentine's Day, load up on fresh, seasonal fruit and veg from one of these lovely spots. Explore the wide variety of citrus that have been brightly rolling in for more than a month or check out which winter vegetables can be whipped into asazuke or a hearty stew. Homemade noodles, too, can be found, as can the ingredients for making your own miso. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Koenji Farmer's Market

Saturday, February 20th
A new market I spotted while riding the train a few years ago on a Saturday morning into the city center is still going strong. 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 20th and Sunday, February 21st
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

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st
A brand new market opening this month in Yokohama that looks quite promising. Their Facebook page says the Market of the Sun folks decided to start it up, so it could be good. I'll be visiting to check it out!
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, February 21st
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
10am to 3pm
Oiso Port Building

Sunday, February 21st
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

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday in February
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

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

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!

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
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

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!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Vegetarian ramen? Why, yes! My article at Metropolis Magazine

vegetarian ramen in Shimo-Kitazawa.
My better half is a huge ramen fan, which means I've eaten more than my fair share of noodles over the past seven years. I've enjoyed the majority of them, and even found some to love (Afuri and Bassanova), but sometimes we have friends and visitors who don't eat meat or don't eat pork. We still want to share the joy that a good bowl of noodles can bring, and so began a search for alternative noodles. This article over at Metropolis scratches the surface of good vegetarian ramen, although there are more. I'll share more about those as I find it!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th

Handmade miso and some of the best around at the Earth Day Farmers Market.
How perfect a Valentine's Day present is this! Markets everywhere and more good food than I can imagine! What better way to treat your sweetheart than with a trip to one of these little gems for seasonal goodness and, undoubtedly, heaps of chocolate everywhere. See you there!

Ebisu Market

Every Sunday in February
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

Market of the Sun
Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th
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 Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b

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

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!

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
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

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, February 11, 2016

Thursday Snapshot: Ume Blossoms

Ume blossoms to cheer any day.
This past weekend I went for a walk in the nearby mountains in search of snow and some solace. Winter is a hard time for me to be away from home. I pine for bitter cold weather that makes the landscape glitter and crackle, for stars that shimmer in a midnight blue sky. So when I saw snow clouds gathered in the west and beginning to shroud the nearby Tanzawa Range, I decided to bundle up and climb to meet an old friend.

I met just a few flakes, none of which stayed long, but I was grateful. For company I had the mountain birds, many of which are returning to start new families and sing their way through the daylight. I also met these lovely ume blossoms, which are not snow, but shimmer with a special life all their own. I was grateful.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Review of The New Livestock Farmer at Permaculture Magazine


Rebecca Thistlethwaite wrote one of the best books on farming that I've ever read - Farms with a Future - a few years ago. In that one she offered sound advice for farmers starting out or trying to figure things out. I've given it as a gift, quoted from it, and recommended it.

The same, surely, can be said for her latest, The New Livestock Farmer, out in 2013 from Chelsea Green. (My review of that on is here.) Written with her husband and partner in farming, Jim Dunlop, it, too, offers good advice and inspiration for raising meat successfully and sustainably. Read my review at Permaculture Magazine here, and then buy them both. (Chelsea Green doesn't pay me for these things, by the way, although they do send along review copies.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

Delightful honey at the Earth Day Farmers Market.
It is shocking to me that February is upon us. The ume (plums) are blossoming even as show lightly rests on Oyama's shoulders to the north of me. My winter vegetables are thriving, albeit with hints of purple and gold as frost paints their leaves. The markets, though, remain full of wonders of winter - daikon, assorted winter leaves, hearty rice, and so much more to fill pots of hot soups that will warm tummies long into a winter night. Don't hesitate to head out to one of these and stay cozy.

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday in February
Ebisu Market management are going all-out this month and hosting a market every Sunday. They've been recruiting more staff and hunting up vendors, so head on out to be part of the action. A recent visit showed this always lovely market remains charming as ever with an excellent selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, scrumptious looking snacks, and crafty items. I'd also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen when you're done for some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

Market of the Sun
Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th
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 Kachidoki Station exits A4a and A4b

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, February 20th
A new market I spotted while riding the train a few years ago on a Saturday morning into the city center is still going strong. 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 20th and Sunday, February 21st
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

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, February 20th and Sunday, February 21st
A brand new market opening this month in Yokohama that looks quite promising. Their Facebook page says the Market of the Sun folks decided to start it up, so it could be good. I'll be visiting to check it out!
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, February 21st
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market, and I don't say that lightly. A nice little community affair started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl. In summer it turns into a night market, but in fall it will swing back to regular daylight hours. More than worth the trek down to see what's going on!
10am to 3pm
Oiso Port Building

Sunday, February 21st
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

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

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!

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
Back up and running after a refurbishment of the market space, the Roppongi Farmers Market is as booming and bountiful as ever. Don't miss this chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji and sample seasonal bounty.
10am to 4pm (Usually. Do check their website for schedule fluctuations.)
Map

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!

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Essay on Hiking in Hokkaido up at riverbabble



One of our first views in the park in 2009.
(I was not so handy with a camera then.)
A few years ago, Richard and I went for a hike in Hokkaido's Daisetsuzan Koen. We'd first visited in the summer of 2009 with a friend who guided to some of the park's most beautiful places. The next summer we returned to visit friends and explore a new section of the park. This essay, Guests of an Indifferent Host, is about that hike. 

Will I go back and hike there again? You bet.

Will I make the same choice? Nope.

Do I recommend checking out the rest of riverbabble's Winter Solstice issue? Undoubtedly.