Friday, December 22, 2017

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, December 23 and Sunday, December 24

Festive wreaths at the UNU Farmers Market.

As the solstice arrives don't miss the chance to brighten your days with a trip to one of these great markets around town. Last minute gifts, outings with friends, or some general frolicking before heading off for a hot bath and a tasty meal, these markets are sure to please. Don't forget the holiday markets still going on this weekend, too!

Kamome Marche
Saturday, December 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!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sento and Solstice: My Article about Stephanie Crohin at Metropolis

Yuzu ready for the bath.

The winter solstice is upon us once again. Touji, as the solstice is called here in Japan, is marked in a wonderfully traditional and appropriate way: bright yellow yuzu are set to float in the bath. Some say it is to remind bathers of the sun, others say for the healing property of the fruit. Regardless, it's a delightful tradition enacted in homes, onsen, and as Stephanie Crohin, Sento Ambassador and author of the recently published 銭湯は、小さな美術館 or Sentos: Small Museums.

Read all about Stephanie's fascinating sento adventures in my recent article, and then check out her handy website, DokodemoSento, to see where to get your sento fix and celebrate the solstice right.

Friday, December 15, 2017

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

Honey always makes a sweet gift...

Welcome to the most farmers-markety weekend of the month! There is no shortage of foodly fun to be had this weekend, and as always, I will say that these markets are the best places for gift shopping. I will surely be perusing the stalls at the Earth Day Market for some tasty treats to nibble while I open gifts as well as some nifty gifts. Farmers markets and holiday markets are a great place to buy directly from growers, producers, and makers, which is a great way to support the local economy. It's also ridiculously fun!

Earth Day Market

Sunday, December 17
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, December 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, December 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.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there.
11am - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 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, December 16 and Sunday, December 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, December 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 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!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Vetch: A Garden Volunteer and Friend

A fresh round of kurasunoendou (vetch) in my garden.

There are two things that perhaps define my gardening practice: laziness and curiosity. Together, these two things have led to a number of discoveries that have made my garden productive and insect friendly. (It also makes it a bit untidy, but that as Michael Phillips' mentions in The Holistic Orchard, is something we should probably just give up.) It also means that I physically and mentally make room for newcomers in my garden, and that includes a number of plants that others term 'weeds.'

One of these is vetch (Vicia sativa) a.k.a. kurasonoendou in Japanese, which literally translates as crow's field pea. A member of the legume family, it is often used as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop on farms that gets plowed in before it can set seed. Vetch is also grown as livestock fodder or as a companion plant for cereal crops. Humans ate it once-upon-a-time, too, although these days we prefer their close relative, the lentil. I figured that even if I cut it off and left it to dry on top of the soil that it would give valuable nutrients back to my garden.

Well, one thing led to another, and I never cut it back. The leaves were a pretty emerald green and the flowers a delightful deep purple. They had a nice scent, and the bees liked them. Since bees need all the help they can get these days, I decided that was reason enough to keep it; however, vetch soon showed me it had other benefits. I was also interested in attracting bees to other things that needed to be pollinated in my garden, so it seemed like a win-win.

Aphid Bait
The vetch grew next to a volunteer kale plant. Dinosaur or Italian kale does reasonably well in my part of Japan and because this plant had self-seeded itself I wanted to keep it around so I could collect the seeds. It didn't seem to mind the vetch climbing on it, so I left the news friends to have their fun.

Aburamushi (aphids) also do very well here in my part of Japan, and they like to snack on my kale. I have to keep an eye on things, especially as the kale seed pods get ready to dry. Aphids take advantage of every opportunity, so I was being vigilant. What I saw was that the aphids were all over the vetch. It, too, had set seeds, but the aphids were busy snacking on it in the meantime. I felt a little bit bad, but I noticed that because the aphids were so preoccupied with the vetch they did not pay any attention to the kale.

I let things run their course, and the vetch melted into the soil as plants do. The aphids did move on to some of my other greens, but they weren't too much of a problem. A new, expanded round of vetch has arrived, and once again I'm going to leave it be to see what happens.

Friday, December 8, 2017

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


Honey at the Nippori Market.
Temperatures are dropping and there is frost on the greens nearly every morning now that turns them wonderfully sweet. Camellia blooms are everywhere, and it is beginning to feel a wee bit festive. Head on out to one of these great markets for a snack or two, and don't forget to check out the holiday markets currently underway, too!

Market of the Sun
Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 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!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Holidays at Tokyo and Yokohama Farmers Markets and Beyond

Yokohama Christmas Market

One delightful thing about this time of year is the absolute abundance of holiday markets in Tokyo and Yokohama. While I've published my usual list of markets for the month, I'm going to add a note or two about special holiday events to help get folks in the spirit. It isn't exactly the same as a holiday at home, but it is fun, festive and delicious!

Marche de Noel
Another little hidden market, the Marche de Noel at the French Institute is an intimate and wonderful affair full of good food (of course!), beautiful gifts, and more. Venture over for a wee taste of the best of Europe and more than a little bit of fun! It is also worth noting that they are offering a Christmas dinner and other foodly-focused events.
Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9
12pm to 8pm
http://www.institutfrancais.jp/tokyo/fr/events-manager/marche-de-noel-3/

UNU Farmers Market Holiday Market
A festive annual affair, the UNU Market does a lovely job of bringing a taste of the holidays to its weekly run of fun. Previously known as a Christmas Market, organizers decided this year to change it to a Holiday Market to be more inclusive of the many wonderful celebrations happening globally at this time of year. They do, of course, reassure their regulars that there will be plenty of German Christmas Cake on hand...
Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17
10am to 4pm
http://farmersmarkets.jp/holiday2017/

Earth Day Fair Trade Christmas
Step into a fair trade holiday well worth making a visit to for the steaming cups of amazake alone! Great gifts as well as the usual staples will be available, and this month's market tends to be a little bit larger as a wider variety of vendors come on out to share their goods. Two personal favorites are the hand-crafted mirin from Chiba and the artisan wreaths. Don't miss the fun and most excellent gift selection!
Sunday, December 17
10am to 4pm
http://www.earthdaymarket.com/

Nippori Marche Christmas Market
This charming little market just in front of Nippori Station sends the year out with a bevy of holiday cheer and a cheerful Santa with reindeer never far away. Handmade ceramics, tasty soups, homemade pickles, and plenty of seasonal treats (perhaps even some mulled wine?!?) can be enjoyed during an assortment of musical performances.
Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17
10am to 4pm
http://www.nipporiyumedonya.com/

Tokyo Christmas Market
Days fly by at holiday time, and they will go even faster when the Tokyo Christmas Market gets under way. Ten glorious days of holiday delights and fun are to be had for those who venture to Midtown to see the (more than usual) lights and soak up the (extra) festive atmosphere.
Friday, December 15 until Monday, December 25
11am to 10pm
https://tokyochristmas.net/

Ebisu Christmas Marche
Running daily until Christmas Day, the Ebisu Christmas Marche is a delightful mix of celebrations of the year. Mulled wine, holiday treats, and plenty of gift options abound as well as the occasional sighting of Santa and a reindeer now and again.
Friday, November 3 until Monday, December 25
12pm - 8pm Daily
https://gardenplace.jp/special/2017christmas/marche/

Yokohama Christmas Market
Perhaps the top market of them all is the annual German Christmas Market at Akarenga in Yokohama. A scene bursting with Christmas music, German sausage, beer, and sweets, it will surely help bring on the holiday mood. Like any good public holiday event, it also gets pretty crowded, so be prepared.
Saturday, November 25 until Monday, December 25
11am to 10pm (11pm on the pre-Christmas weekend)
https://www.yokohama-akarenga.jp/christmas2017/

Know of a holiday market or event? Let me know, and I'll add it to the list!

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama


Most excellent baker at Onomichi Farmers Market!

The New Year is just around the corner with a bevy of holiday celebrations all around it. Start celebrating with some local treats at these great markets. They are also an excellent source for gifts! Organic wine, sake, and other delectables or simply beautiful, hand-crafted items can all be found this month. Happy hunting and Happy Holidays!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3
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, December 9 and Sunday, December 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, December 17
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, December 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, December 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.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there.
11am - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 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, December 16 and Sunday, December 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, December 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 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamome Marche
Saturday, December 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!