Friday, June 23, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25

Masako Konuma of Farm Canning at the Earth Day Market.

While the markets are a bit quieter at the end of the month, there is still a nice selection to wander out to over the weekend. Catch the last of the ume if you can and the first of the summer vegetables as they roll in. I'm already dreaming of pickles galore, although what will most likely happen is simply salad! Or a trip to one of these great farm-to-table restaurants!

Kamome Marche
Saturday, June 24
Set on the upper level of the Yokohama Bay Quarter, this little market offers nice variety given its size. Vendors from Yamanashi, Yokohama, and other parts of Kanagawa brave the steady ocean breeze and offer everything up from fruit to wine to fresh vegetables.
11am - 5pm
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market

Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Farm-to-table in Tokyo: My article at Savvy Tokyo

My meal at We Are The Farm's Standby Farm in Ginza.

As a big advocate of farmers, I was very excited to learn of these two restaurants, Noz by T.Y. Farm and We Are The Farm, doing farm-to-table in Tokyo in a very special way. Both offer excellent fare at their restaurants, but the twist on the story is that both do it using ingredients from their very own organic farms. Read the whole story here at Savvy Tokyo, and then head out to both to sample what good stuff they have in store. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18

Kenichi Ishikawa and his natsumikan at the Earth Day Market.
Check out Motherearthclub.com to see what else he's up to!

The rainy season is lurking out there somewhere, but until it arrives in full force folks should plan to head out to one of these great markets this weekend. There are certainly plenty to choose from, so don't hold back! Kichijoji's adorable little market is great for the early riser, whereas Koenji's is fun for being in a funky part of the city. Further afield are markets in Oiso and Yokohama, while the regular weekly markets never disappoint. Good luck deciding, and happy eating!


Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, June 17
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, June 18
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, June 18
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11

Commune 246, formerly known as 246 Market, is a slightly different take on foodly market delights.
Made up of small food trucks and vendors, it is worth a peek on weekends or on weekdays when there is plenty of room to eat, stretch your legs, and enjoy a good coffee.

A nice little round-up of markets this weekend, with the Earth Day Market making a quick return after last month's double feature. Take your pick of central Tokyo food hot spots to find some of the season's best or venture down to Kamakura's little gem of a market. Weekend sellers tend to be a bit sparse, but think of it as refined choice.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11
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.

Earth Day Market
Sunday, June 11
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama Regions

A sweet little michinoeki near Shimoda.

A busy month for markets and farmers. Rice seedlings are just finding their way a bit more above water, and vegetables are coming into their own as rain approaches and temperatures warm. Early tomatoes from greenhouses may be on tables along with cucumbers, but those growing solely in the great outdoors will still have plenty of tasty leaf crops on hand along with snazzy snap peas. Enjoy them while you can!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11
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.

Earth Day Market
Sunday, June 11
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, June 18
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, June 17
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, June 18
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28

Candy sweet these tomotos were.
(Apparently, so sweet I turned into Yoda for a moment there.)

Don't let the rain forecast for the end of the week dampen hopes of hitting one of the great markets on schedule! Head on for the Earth Day Market double-hitter or one of the great weekly ones that never fail to satisfy. Seedlings are, most likely, still available, and I daresay early tomatoes may also be available. Head on out and have some foodly fun!

Earth Day Market

Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
*Double feature in the usual location!!
Map

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Japan

A little roadside show-off in Yamanakako.

Our latest biking-camping trip took us to Yamanakako, one of the Fuji Five Lakes we'd not been to yet, and it did not disappoint. Great camping with friendly folks, good food, beautiful hiking, and some of extraordinary scenery were all to be had. (Drop a note if you want some camping and eating recommendations.)

On our way back from a hike, I spotted this little guy - Jack-in-the-pulpit -  near the side of the rode. Well-known as a wild plant in North America, they are not at all unusual here in Japan. Here, though, they tend to take on a more dramatic look - deep purple hoods with stripes and a formidable looking stem - than those I recall at home. Still, it's nice to see a somewhat familiar face when I'm out for a walk.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21

Selection galore at the UNU Market.

Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! If you hanker after fresh seasonal food, this is your big chance to hit up some of the best around. Many, too, offer seedlings this time of year as well as sansai (mountain vegetables). Don't miss the chance to savor what is most delicious this time of year!

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, May 21
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, May 21
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets make an appearance.

Awhile back I mentioned some beet seeds that had not yet sprouted. I worried at that time about my soil, the foundation of my garden and all it produces. Was there something lurking there that I needed to know about? Would I ever see the beets of my dreams?

Above is a photo of the beets recently harvested. Imperfect but deliciously beautiful, we have since enjoyed them in salad or raw and dipped in the husband's famous miso mix. My soil, it seems, is not in such bad shape, although I still pay attention to what is happening there. As a good citizen gardener, it's the least I can do these days.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tambo Art: Help Plant a Painting

Planting rice during the Soma Tambo Art Project.

If there is one thing that is worth experiencing in Japan, it is planting rice by hand. There is nothing so exciting, exhilarating or wonderful as stepping into a rice field, seedlings in hand, and setting them in the soft, silty soil. I know I'm a farmer and all that, but rice, it's planting, harvest, eating, and by-products are integral to Japanese culture. A staple part of the Japanese diet, nuka (the bran from polishing rice) is used to ferment vegetables for pickles and help feed the soil of rice fields. Momigara (rice hulls) makes an excellent mulch for fields or compost ingredient. Wara (rice straw) is an important source of silica for rice fields, is part of the traditional process for making natto, and is another excellent mulch for fields as well as a material for weaving.

Most farmers don't plant by hand any more, but for events like the Tambo Art Projects in Chiba and Fukushima, it is a chance to glimpse, however briefly, the way rural communities used to work. It is also a chance to get dirty, eat good food in the company of excellent folks, and explore parts of the country that don't make it into travel guides.

There is still time to register for and sink your toes in the mud in Chiba this weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2017

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

Rockin' times at the UNU Market!

Busy times, indeed! My garden is bursting and the markets are bustling. I'm heading up to Soma to help plant their Tambo Art field and contemplating a trip to Chiba next weekend to do the same in Sammu. As I said to someone recently, all the good stuff happens at once. Regardless, don't miss the chance to head on out to one of these great markets and see what the season has in store. It is meant to be a bit rainy, but it means less competition at the market tables and an extra veg wash!
Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14
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.

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Eurasian Jay


Eurasian Jay at Yamanakako making the serious face.

One of the great highlights of our trips home to North America are the birds. I miss the brilliant colors of cardinals and blue jays, in particular, along with the song of the red-winged blackbird. I take every moment possible to go for walks in the woods or pause when I am out and about to see if I can catch a glimpse of them.

During our recent biking-camping trip to Yamanakako, we spotted a Eurasian Jay and friend hopping about in the woods. Large and striking in terms of color, we stood and watched as they foraged and flew for some time. They also posed nicely for a photo or two. Granted, we don't know exactly which branch of the family we met, but we feel pleased to have made their acquaintance.

Friday, May 5, 2017

May Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Yasutaka Ichikizaki at the UNU Farmers Market.

Goodness, me. It's hard to keep up with Spring. The cherry blossoms are all faded and fallen, and the trees well leafed out. My garden is brimming with greenery, blossoms, and I'm fast running out of room for all the seeds and ideas I have. Farmers are no different, of course, and so head to one of these great markets for a taste of the season and help take some of the load off of their tables!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14
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.

Earth Day Market
Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
*Double feature in the usual location!!
Map

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, May 21
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, May 21
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Volunteer Poppy

Volunteer poppy getting ready to bloom.

I used to go to my grandmother's house every Thursday after school. My mother worked at a local insurance office, and that was the one night a week the agent stayed open late. I would walk over the hill from my grade school to her house where there was always a Tupperware container of homemade cookies waiting and my grandmother. Often, one of my great aunts Esther, Ruth, or Viola would be there with my grandmother, talking and crocheting, the smoke from their cigarettes curling up next to their cold glasses of beer. (I am from Wisconsin, after all.) I would sit down to listen, sneak extra cookies, and laugh at their stories.

My grandmother grew flowers and vegetables, and I always recall that along the beds that lined the walk to the garage full of daisies and poppies. Surely, there were other flowers, too, but those are the ones I remember most and fondly.

So, when these little beauties made their appearance in my garden, I was not about to give them the boot. I see them, and I think of all those afternoons so long ago and smile.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Importance of Mulch

My tomato seedling and the row cover in the background.

I've written before about mulch and why I love it so; however, I have recently had a nice lesson in its value.

Normally, at my community garden, a nearby rice farmer offers us bundles of wara (rice straw) for our use in our gardens. Most of my fellow gardeners use it to keep their watermelon up off the soil, but I used it liberally throughout my garden as a soil protector. It was amazing. The soil underneath was moist and absolutely teaming with life. It did remain cool for rather longer than I would have liked, but I didn't feel that was a serious problem. I knew in the long run that if the worms were happy and present in large numbers, then everything was OK.

A close-up of the wara mulch.

This year, though, the farmer told our group he wanted to use the wara himself. I wasn't the only disappointed one, but we put a brave face on it. I used old sheets, pillowcases, onsen towels, and a frost protection blanket to cover my soil. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I figured protection from the elements was protection. What difference could it possible make?

It made a difference.

My soil is crusty. I find that I have to break through a hard layer when planting seeds and seedlings. It isn't a horribly thick crust, but I'm not pleased at this turn of events. Underneath, the soil, too, is dry despite a reasonably good run of rain these past few days. My soil, then, is probably not as porous as it should be and probably not retaining as much moisture as it should to be healthy. I know how I feel when I'm even slightly dehydrated, and I'm betting my soil is feeling just as poopy.

My soil is underpopulated. Last year, I saw worms everywhere. I would move a leaf, and there they were. I would dig a hole for a seedling, and I apologized to groups of them for being a pest. I would make a row for seeds, and one or two would flop out of the soil on the side in a panic. This year I find myself missing those little squigglers and worried about them. I'm also worried about my soil and subsequently my plants and my harvest. If those guys aren't there, who else isn't? If they aren't there eating, pooping, and mingling about the beds, then is my soil up to par? I'm betting no, and I'm not happy about that.

My soil is not humusy. I prepared a new spot for my tomatoes last fall. It had been the former home of an assortment of free-loving greens - two or three kinds of kale and norabo - that I let run wild behind a screen of scarlet runner beans. When they had all had their fun and I'd collected the seeds, I layered on leaves and composted cow manure and left it to settle. I covered it with a row cover to keep it all from blowing away, and went on about my other seasonal business. Two weeks ago, when I took the cover off and went to plant my tomato and basil seedlings, I found soil that was dry and crumbly. Some things had broken down, but not enough. It didn't have that moist, chocolate cake kind of look and feel that good soil should have. The tomatoes are already looking less than healthy, jaundiced even, dare I say it, as is the basil. Surely, it's a nutrient problem, and I'm not pleased.

Solutions
I've started spreading around various leaves and debris on the soil in my garden in an effort to draw those worms and creatures back to my soil. Even though my garden is down in a river valley, it is quite windy, so I need something that can stay in place. I have no perfect solution, but I'm working on it. I've found more old pillowcases and towels, and I've even started surreptitiously gathering handfuls of sugina (horsetail) to spread on the soil. (Read about it's usefulness in The Holistic Orchard. Here's my review to tempt you further.)

Got any mulch stories? Let's hear it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Senmaida on the Noto Hanto


This past fall we took a lovely bike ride around the Noto Hanto (Peninsula). It was one of the best yet. Steep hills rushed down to a seashore the likes of which I've never encountered. Dramatic rock formations with crashing waves and villages staunchly set against the steady wind that blew in from the sea took my breath away. This set of rice terraced rice fields just outside of Wajima, though, were particularly lovely. While not exactly what would have existed before, they are a testament to a way of farming that it is worth remembering for its ingenuity and beauty.

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Founders.
Read my review in the Spring Traveler for Outdoor Japan!

Sakura
(cherry) blossoms may be a wee bit late this year, but this month promises to bloom with fun and good food. (I couldn't resist.) Get all the fixings needed for the best hanami (blossom viewing) ever plus a few treats for the rest of the week. Warming temperatures and spring rains promise plenty of nanohana and surely the first sansai (mountain vegetables) should be appearing at any time now. See you at the market!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9
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.

Earth Day Market
Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30
I could wax on forever about how great this market is and how important it is for the future of Japanese farming and global food security. However, 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!
10am to 4pm, Rain or shine
Map

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, April 16
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler soon!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, April 15
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
11am - 5pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, April 16
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. 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 varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 12pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
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 other the fixings one might need for the week or just a good snack. Plenty of Kanagawa goodies, of course, 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 affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Saturday
The Hills Marche Farmers Market in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
10am to 4pm
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and 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 do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho 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 I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Trout Lily

Trout lilies along the Potomac River.
I had the great pleasure of attending a writer's conference near Washington, D.C. in March. While the sessions were wonderful, the adjacent regional park was even better. I found myself walking the trails for two hours at a time at the end of each day relaxing from a day of learning and most happily reacquainting myself with native flora and fauna. These trout lilies were among those I had the pleasure of meeting again.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing Advice

Cherry blossoms last April.
It is, once again, time to pull out the party sheets and head to the nearest sakura (cherry tree) to sit under the pink haze that signals an official beginning of Spring in Japan. I wrote this article last year to help folks discover some of the best hanami (blossom viewing) spots in the city and thought it would be handy again this year. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Kaitenmabushi at Omoikawa Weaving House


As one of the last places still making yuki tsumugi  - an entirely handmade silk fabric - Omoigawa Weaving House is full of stories. One that caught my eye were these rotating boxes for the cocoons. According to Naoyuki Akaishi, the silkworms always wanted to travel upwards, which could be problematic. By rotating these boxes each day until the worms settled down to cocoon manufacturing, it satisfied the worms urge and kept things orderly for the farmers.

Read my articles about Omoikawa and yuki tsumugi at GaijinPot and SavvyTokyo.



Monday, March 20, 2017

My articles on Tochigi's Traditional Handmade Silk

Shizuko Irie, one of the weavers with Sudo Nobuko in Tochigi.

In early February, I had the pleasure of visiting a place in Tochigi Prefecture where silk is still made entirely by hand. Yuki tsumugi is one of the loveliest fabrics I've ever encountered, and for this series of stories I got to visit weaving houses, wholesalers, museums, and even try my hand at the weaving process itself. It was fascinating.

My favorite fact? That it was originally crafted by farmers who didn't want to waste the cocoons that couldn't be used for regular silk. Leave it to farmer ingenuity to give the world something beautifully crafted that lasts for generations.

I should also mention that the incredible photos that accompany the articles were taken by the amazingly talented Lori Ono. As a fiber artist herself, she was able to truly capture the beauty of this traditional art form.

You can read all about our trip and experience here at GaijinPot and over at SavvyTokyo, and then plan your own crafty adventure!