Friday, October 20, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22


Tasty teas at the Greenmarket Sumida!

A nice round of only the tried and true markets this weekend as the Earth Day Market is not running this month. Any and all of these will surely yield tasty treats of the season. Head on out to see what autumn has up for offer and enjoy!

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22**
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. This month is their annual Hokkaido Fair. Lots of treats, I'm told, from Kushiro as well as games and other fun. 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

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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, October 16, 2017

Sourdough Rice Cooker Bread

A finished loaf of rice cooker sourdough with starter.

Good bread is, as I've said before, one of the things that it can be difficult to find in Japan. Japanese bread is tasty, but it tends not to have the heft or flavor I prefer. To be fair, this was also true in the U.S., and I also made my own bread there. In Japan, this proved to be a challenge as I don't have an oven. I've made good use of my rice cooker, though, which you can read all about here along with a recipe for rice cooker yeast bread.

My inspiration for sourdough came while watching Michael Pollan's Cooked. Based on the book by the same name, the documentary takes a look at some basic, traditional methods of making food. One segment examines bread and its history particularly as it pertains to the United States. While I was aware of many of the issues discussed, I was still shocked to understand how flour and bread evolved over the years as well as yeast. As farming and milling practices changed (industrialized and became reliant on chemicals and additives), nutrition levels dropped. This made it necessary to add nutrients to the recipe. By taking out much of the bran, we lost nutrients, and the yeast, too, lost many of its vital, living components that actually helped people get those nutrients from bread. (There are those who argue that gluten allergies are really an issue with the modern process of making the bread, not the grain, but that is another interesting story for another day.)

As I watched and listened, I thought about another food writer, Sandor Katz, and his classic book on making fermented dishes. It seemed to me that sourdough would be a logical next step. So, that evening I mixed flour and water and waited for the yeast to come to the buffet I'd laid out.

Sourdough starter just starting to bubble.

Yeast is, like dark matter, all around us all the time.  It is a natural part of our environment, and so we attempt to harness it to help out in the kitchen. Foods like beer, wine, kimchi, natto, kombucha, chocolate, and sauerkraut are delicious examples. By setting out a bowl with flour and water in my kitchen, I aimed to entice some of my very local yeast to settle there and have a snack.

After about three days of nervous watching, regular stirring and aerating (lifting the spoon up about three inches or so as I fed the starter) small bubbles appeared. The yeast, you could say, was at the table.

I continued feeding and stirring my sourdough starter and soon had a very lively, bubbly mass. The smell was definitely sour, but also yeasty in a lovely, bready way.

Using a combination of Katz's recipe and mine adapted from The Tassajara Bread Book, I made my first batch of sourdough bread. Everything essentially followed the same steps as my rice cooker yeast bread, but with a few caveats.

Sponge
I still mixed up a sponge, the goupy mixture of flour and yeast, that is a very traditional beginning of bread. An important difference in this case is that using a sourdough starter means I don't need to add any sweetener. Unlike dry yeast, the starter is already raring to go, so a sweetener like honey or molasses isn't necessary. (On occasion, though, I have added molasses as I am fond of that flavor.)

I find the best timing is to mix the sponge up in the evening, wrap it in blankets and tuck it on the couch. (In winter, I even give it a hot water bottle.) By morning, the sponge is bubbly and happy and has risen considerably.

My husband keeping the sourdough warm while he works.

Rising Times
The rising times tend to be a little bit longer depending on the weather. In summer or on warmer days, the sponge and dough tend to be more active and rise faster. I set it in a sunny spot and wrap it in a dark blanket. Again, a hot water bottle in winter is also not a bad idea or simply holding it on your lap while you work.

A finished loaf of beer-based sourdough with fresh cucumber and butter.

Taste
Sourdough can have a strong taste. My friend, Sarah, uses a different recipe, and while her bread has a sourdough tang, it is nothing compared to the flavor punch of mine. (Think a particularly pungent blue cheese.) Her methods vary a bit from mine, but it I certainly believe it also comes down to the environment of the starter. Yeast varies by location, so it stands to reason that the resulting flavor of sourdoughs will also vary by location. You are tapping into your microbiome (how cool is that!) after all!

Difficulty
People often express amazement and admiration that I make my own bread or can jam and pickles. Even as I enjoy basking in their adulations, I have to tell the truth: it really isn't that hard. What these tasks require are time, patience, and some attention to detail. However, those, too, are somewhat flexible. I am a little bit lazy and inattentive, so sometimes the dough rises longer than usual, or I forget to take the rind out of the yuzushu. These are not deal breakers by any means. Bread rises while I run off to teach classes or research information for an article or while I sleep. Yuzushu or umeboshi (pickled plums) steep along in a dark cupboard for weeks or months while I travel, garden, write, or spend time with friends. Just be there when it bakes for best results.

These projects certainly can feel intimidating at first and like most things done for the first few times, mistakes will be made. More often, you get to eat the mistakes and learn something in the process. Whether you decide to make bread to feed your family, the resistance or both, don't be afraid. Enjoy the process of exploring, making something with your own two hands, and sharing it with family and friends.

Sourdough Starter Recipe based on Sandor Katz

Ingredients for a Single Rice Cooker Starter
1 cup flour (any flour is fine)
1 cup water*

Mix the flour and water in a bowl vigorously. Cover with cheesecloth and stir at least once a day. After about three days, give or take, you will notice bubbles when you visit. The yeast is there. At this point, add roughly a tablespoon of flour (again, any kind is fine) a day and stir it in. This is feeding the starter. As the yeasts and bacteria feed on the flour, they burp and fart, creating a protective layer of liquid over the top of the starter. Just stir it back in each time you feed.

Keep doing this for about three or four days. By the end of a week, the starter should be a lively, smelly mess in your kitchen. Hooray! It's time to bake!

*Double bock, gone flat, is a nice substitute. (Don't worry. It wasn't a Baird Beer, although I'm sure that would make a lovely bread. I would just rather enjoy it in a glass with my bread.) I've also used the water from making soba noodles and steaming potatoes.


Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup lukewarm water (beer is nice here again, by the way)
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp. oil
1/4 cup of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or whatever other things you fancy mixing into the bread.

Mix the starter and water (beer) to make a kind of slurry, a.k.a. the sponge. Mix in 2 cups of the flour to get a thick mud. Stir and stir and stir. I recommend 100 strokes at a minimum. Never cut through the middle of the sponge. Just like in the soil, you don't want to bust up the community of things bonding and working away to feed you. Cover and let it rise for anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight wrapped in blankets with a hot water bottle.

The starter has probably doubled in size and looks quite festive by the end of this rising time. That's perfect. Sprinkle the salt over it, drizzle the oil about, and toss in that quarter cup of stuff at this point. Stir without breaking up the dough.

Kneading away and making a mess.
Once things seem pretty well mixed, add the flour gradually and mix thoroughly. Eventually, you will get to a point where you can barely stir. This is when you tip it out onto a floured surface and start to knead. I need for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how elastic the dough becomes and how good the podcast is that I'm listening to just then.

Dough rising in the sponge bowl.

Once the dough seems to push back at you, it's time to give it a rest. I lightly oil the same bowl the sponge was in** and set the dough in there, cover it, and wrap it up once more with a hot water bottle. Let it rise for anywhere from two hours to overnight. **Don't bother cleaning the bowl. I always figure the extra bits probably help it feel at home after the trauma of the kneading.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled loaf pan. You can punch it down, as I suggest in the other recipe, but it is not entirely necessary. The shock of the transfer causes some deflation as it were, so I sometimes just let it rise. This can vary from a few hours to overnight.

Transfer the pan to the rice cooker and turn it on for a full cycle. Flip over the dough when the cycle ends, and start it up again.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, October 14 and Sunday October 15

Tasty breads available at the UNU Market's Annual Bread Festival!

Autumn brings it with blooms of color not just in the leaves of trees, but also on market tables everywhere. Look for brightly colored squash, the deep purple of sweet potatoes, and the nearly black skin of the last of the eggplant. Vivid greens, too, will splash over the table in the form of winter greens that go perfectly in the nabe pot or make an excellent salad. Try them all!

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, October 15
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!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, October 14
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 - 6pm
Map

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15
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, October 15
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 2pm
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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, October 6, 2017

October Farmers Markets in the Tokyo and Yokohama Regions


Organic and naturally-farmed grapes from Aiai Farm in Ibaraki Prefecture!

October, thankfully, brings with it cooler temperatures and new crops. Winter vegetables (think leafy greens like komatsuna and karashina along with delectable roots like daikon and kabu) are already sprouting. New rice is also, literally, being harvested as I type, and will soon grace market tables everywhere. Take advantage of this lovely autumn to venture out to one of these great markets and reap the benefits!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1
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.

Sunday, October 8 and Monday, October 9*
One of Tokyo's newer markets, 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.
*Monday is a national holiday, so they are switching up their schedule a bit!

Earth Day Market
**No Market This Month**
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, October 15
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!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, October 14
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 - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22**New Date!
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, October 14 and Sunday, October 15
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, October 15
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 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamome Marche
Saturday, October 28
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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, September 29, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1

Fresh cider being pressed at the Naplavka Farmers Market in Prague.

While the month may be coming to a close, the great selection of markets is certainly not. Of greatest note this month is that Greenmarket Sumida is back on the calendar and in full swing. Like the Nippori Market, it is in a fantastic part of town worth a visit all on its own. The market is new, but good fun and worth the trek. Undoubtedly, the UNU Market and Roppongi Hills Marche are also worth visiting. The latter, of course, is where the Pie Queen can be found in all her glory!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1
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.

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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, September 22, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Markets: Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24

A lovely selection of squash at a little farmers market in Tylovo Square, Prague.

Another nice round of markets, including the ever wonderful Earth Day Market with it's cheerful vendors and fun atmosphere. Easily one of the best places in the city to get a good selection of organic and fair trade fruits, vegetables, grains, breads, and more, it is also an extremely fun event. Don't miss the chance to sample some of the best plum jam going along with homemade mochi!

Earth Day Market
Sunday, September 24
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

Kamome Marche
Saturday, September 23
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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, September 15, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17

A sweet little weekly market in Amstetten, Austria.

One of the most hopping weekends for farmers markets in the area, there should be no excuse for not heading out the door on the hunt for some lovely treats. Kichijoji's little market is an absolute delight for early risers, and the Koenji Market always promises something wonderful. Both are small but action-packed. The Nippori Market is also always good fun and in a spectacular part of the city. Takako Kimura will be there with her veg and homemade pickles, so perhaps give this one a little star!

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, September 17
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!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, September 16
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 - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17
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, September 16 and Sunday, September 17
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, September 17
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.
5pm to 9pm
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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, September 14, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Local Fire Ceremony


Just down the hill from our apartment is a small shrine. Surrounded by tall zelkova, it looks like every other rural area shrine - brown, tidy, and quiet. It's where our annual Obon festival is held and a handful of other festivals throughout the year, too, but usually it's just there. We had seen a plaque that described a fire festival, but we didn't have a chance to see it for ourselves until last September.



Local men and women carry the mikoshi (a portable shrine that houses the local god) along a set path, passing it over burning bundles of wara (rice straw) along the way before bringing it back to the shrine where a huge bonfire is lit. They run back and forth from the fire to the temple with the mikoshi to celebrate our local god and ask for its protection once more throughout the year. It is an event unlike anything else I have ever seen here.


The whole neighborhood and then some turn out to witness this event, which feels raucous as well as reverent. The fire department, of course, is on hand in case things go awry.



Friday, September 8, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10

Colorful fruit and veg at Vienna's Nacht Markt.

Rain or shine, these markets will be on, so don't hesitate to make your way up and out to see what is on offer. There is no shortage of good food to be had, and be sure to check market websites to see about special themes or which vendors may be on hand. The Market of the Sun will be featuring ichijiku (figs) as well as other autumn treats, and the Kamakura Market is always a treat. Don't forget, too, that the Ebisu Market is a small but tasty hub for good veg and fruit in a nifty part of town.

Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10
One of Tokyo's newer markets, 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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, September 7, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Stolen Seeds

Coreopsis seed head at the ready.

Ok, stolen is kind of a strong word. I happened to be walking to the garden one morning and noticed that a stand of coreopsis I admired had some seed heads. They bloom next to a guardrail along the road and are a cheerful greeter each time I walk to and from my garden. I plucked a head in passing and tossed it into the garden near the rhubarb. On the way home, I grabbed another and tossed it onto the soil near my compost bin. A couple days later, I snagged another and plopped it in a different location in my garden. I felt a little guilty, but my neighbor put my mind at ease.

"Every gardener does that," she said when I confessed my crime one morning when we met while tending our respective plots. So, I grabbed another on my way home and eyeballed a clump of nira that were blooming, too. After all, I'm a gardener, I thought as I mentally marked the location.

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets

An amazing collection of spices at the Nacht Markt in Vienna.

September has rolled in with it's usual bout of stormy and wet weather, but that won't hold back the produce destined for these great markets. Look for sweet potatoes, a continued influx of squash varieties, plenty of tomatoes, and the eggplants should still be making their way, too. Don't be shy about those summer vegetables. They are putting on a last great effort before the season ends.

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1
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, September 9 and Sunday, September 10
One of Tokyo's newer markets, 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, September 24
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, September 17
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!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, September 16
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 - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17
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, September 16 and Sunday, September 17
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, September 17
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.
5pm to 9pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamome Marche
Saturday, September 23
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 Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, August 31, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Aldo Leopold Foundation

A quote from Leopold on the grounds of the foundation.

Earlier this year we visited the Aldo Leopold Foundation. We had just watched a short documentary about his life and work, Green Fire, at my hometown library and were deeply moved by it. The similarities to my husband's family's efforts to restore habitat on family land struck us, but for me the film reminded me of what is best about my home state and region. There is a great deal that worries me at the moment and many things that I struggle with, yet what brought all of us together in that room was a love for place. It was a kind of comfort then, and my memory of the discussion afterward reminds me that there is good work underway and in many places.

We were also surprised to realize that the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the shack where Leopold wrote his seminal work, The Sand County Almanac, was less than 20 miles away. We drove there the next day along a road I walked as a child with my grandmother and past Pine Island, a refuge I often visited with my family in the fall to take in the vast numbers of geese that paused there on their annual migration.

I read The Sand County Almanac in my final year of university and, like so many others around the world, found that it opened my mind to a sort of common sense approach to living in the world that I had long felt was lacking. Leopold describes the changes in the landscape throughout the seasons as well his family efforts to restore a land decimated by logging and overgrazing. He had come to understand that while these practices were grounded in economics, they were also shortsighted in many ways. His years of experience, the successes and failures, taught him that we needed to work in concert with all parts of nature, even those like the wolf, that we did not like. The resulting Land Ethic is one that is simple but complex and multi-faceted and one that can be challenging to live up to at times. However, most things that are worthwhile doing are similar until we get the hang of them. I'm certainly game to keep at it.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27

A bit of bustle at the Ark Hills Marche.

A lovely selection of markets this week that will surely not disappoint. Do wander over to the small but charming Kamome Marche in Yokohama or the Ebisu Marche. Both are lovely little affairs with delightful vendors ready to talk about their vegetables and how best to prepare them. At the Ark Hills/Roppongi Hills Marche, don't miss the Pie Queen and her truly delicious wares. Even at two hours away, I find her pie a worthy mission.

Kamome Marche
Saturday, August 26
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.
*Be careful of the Obon season this month. Nothing is noted on their website, but it could be sporadic this month.
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.
*Be careful of the Obon season this month. Nothing is noted on their website, but it could be sporadic.
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 Tuesday and Saturday*
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
*Note that the first weekend of August the market will be closed.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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, August 24, 2017

Thursday Snapshot: Dill Blossom Fireworks in the Garden

Dill blossoms bursting to life in the garden.

Dill is nearly impossible to find in Japan. It is available at some supermarkets and occasionally at farmers markets, but the price is tends to be high and quantities small. I love adding it to salads as the taste and aroma immediately transport me back to Kazakhstan where it was the primary ingredient in nearly everything. It also makes me think of my mother's kitchen and garden, and the summer days where she would bend the long stalks and seed heads into jars of brined cucumbers that would eventually transform into the dill pickles that graced our table the rest of the year. Growing my own, then, is a pleasure of taste as well as memory. It is also a favorite treat of the swallowtail caterpillars, which I gladly share with them along with my parsley.

The plant pictured here that at this moment resembles the fireworks that fill the skies on these hot summer evenings, is one found at our local nursery. I've noticed over the years that more and more shops carry a nice assortment of herbs such as sage, basil, fennel, coriander, Thai basil, and oregano to name just a few. Even if a balcony is the only growing space available, it is more than possible to create a tidy stock of fresh and dried herbs.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20

Yummy fresh eggs at the Ark Hills Marche.

Things return to normal this week with a number of markets coming back into full swing after the Obon holidays. It is very possible that some vendors will still be away, but don't despair! They will be back after their much-needed holiday and refreshing visit with their ancestors. So, pack up your bags and head on out to see what great treats await!

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, August 20
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!
7am - 10am

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, August 19
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 - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20
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, August 19 and Sunday, August 20
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, August 20
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.
5pm to 9pm
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.
*Be careful of the Obon season this month. Nothing is noted on their website, but it could be sporadic this month.
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.
*Be careful of the Obon season this month. Nothing is noted on their website, but it could be sporadic.
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 Tuesday and Saturday*
The Ark Hills Marche 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.
*Note that the first weekend of August the market will be closed.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm
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!