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Showing posts from February, 2018

Yoga and Meditation: My Story at Metropolis Magazine

Yakushi-Nyorai at Tokozen-ji in Yokohama. Two things that I have been curious for some time are yoga and meditation. I do both on a regular basis, and I find them both to be helpful as I attempt to stay limber for farming and sports as well as focused. Yoga and meditation offer more than that, too, of course, as I am just beginning to learn. I spoke with Leza Lowitz of Sun and Moon Yoga and Daigo Ozawa of Tokozen-ji about both of these topics for an article in Metropolis . Both conversations were incredible, and I really had no desire to stop them. Both gave me plenty to think about as well as fascinating insights that I am still pondering today. I've had many great conversations in my time as a writer, and these were two of the best. What appears in the article is a small fraction, but I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired.

Thursday Snapshot: Little Statues Bundled Up

Bundled up against the cold of the mountains. These two little statues can be found along a favorite hiking trail near my home. A round-trip visit to them takes roughly 90 minutes, and a bench for taking in the view and catching your breath is nearby. I've paused here countless times with friends, husband, and alone to offer a greeting to these two and their companions. I don't know their story just yet, but hope to one day soon. Meanwhile, I'll just keep enjoying my quiet companions in the mountains.

Hiking Hearth to Hearth in Nepal: My Story at Outdoor Japan

One of the farmers we met on the Gurung Heritage Trek in Nepal. Our trip to Nepal was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, and not least among the memories is a hike we took on the Gurung Heritage Trek. Ours was a shortened version led by a friend who lived in the area, and it was incredible. I could have stopped in every village and talked with every farmer, but we never would have made it anywhere in a timely fashion. The farmers there, though, are diligent, careful, inventive, and thoughtful, like farmers everywhere. I was particularly impressed at their outspokenness about GMO seeds and their rejection of them. "These seeds don't grow," said one farmer, waving a dismissive hand at packets in a pile nearby. She had saved seeds from plants the year before and planted them. Nothing grew. If the plants did grow, they did not bloom and set fruit. I had experienced this myself, but to see someone whose livelihood and survival depended on these seeds e

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

A bounty of mushrooms at Yurakucho Farmers Market ! As the ume blossoms emerge and warm weather weaves itself in with winter cold, the farmers markets begin to bustle. This weekend is one of the best of the month for choices of places to go. My suggestion? Choose one for each day and head on out. The forecast looks good, and there will be plenty of good winter veg and perhaps even a miso-making kit or two at the Earth Day Market. Far too much fun for just one day, I say! See you at the market! Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi Sunday, February 18 Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find  this little market  in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market! Look for my review in  Outdoor Japan's

Thursday Snapshot: Plum Blossoms

An ume blossom spotted during a Sunday hike. Once again, I have fallen in love. The ume (plum) blossom is one of the first flowers of Spring, and it is easily one of my favorites. Simple and delicate, their delicate scent begins to fill the air this time of year and draws me in as surely it does the tiny bees and other pollinators just waking up. It never fails to bring a smile to my face, especially as I ponder the resulting fruit that will turn into tasty treats a bit later in the year.

Yurakucho Market: An Updated Review

Seasonal treats from Fukushima. Just under the eaves of the Tokyo Kotsukaikan in Yurakucho is one of the loveliest markets the city has to offer, and one of the earliest I ventured to here when we first arrived. It was the first place I stumbled upon Kamakura Brand vegetables, which led me to the delightful edible treasure trove that is the Kamakura Market . It also opened my eyes to antenna shops that represent each prefecture's specialties. (See my 2013 article at Metropolis here about that clever phenomenon.) All of my sentimentality aside, this weekly market and its fifty to sixty vendors overflow with great things that will delight those looking for an interesting souvenir as well as those hoping to stock up on groceries. Takashi Noguchi from Sakosenshokukoge in Ibaraki. Cold winds guided me over to Takashi Noguchi from Sakosenshokukoge in Ibaraki who was on hand with some of the exquisite textiles from the weaver and dyer he works with there. The scarves, stoles

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

Pink Lady apples at Yurakucho Market. Snow may still be occasionally flying, but the vegetables are still coming! Prices at supermarkets are higher than usual this year due to bad weather , so what better reason to hit a farmers market?  Chances are good it is the grower or business owner behind the table and handing your money directly to them is one of the best ways to support their efforts and keep them in production. See you at the market! Market of the Sun Saturday, February 10 and Sunday, February 11 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

Thursday Snapshot: Peas Climbing for Spring

Peas making their move in Ota-ku, Tokyo. A recent story assignment took me to Ota-ku, one of Tokyo's original 23 wards. I arrived early for the Setsubun Festival, so I strolled about the nearby neighborhoods. Reminiscent of my favorite parts of the city, Asakusa and Nippori, this part of Ota-ku has a homey, shitamachi (downtown) feel to it without all the touristy distractions. One hallmark of those places as well as Ota-ku is the presence of potted plants along sidewalks in front of homes and stores. These everyday gardens display pots and plants of all kinds, shapes and sizes, and are part of what makes Tokyo surprisingly green and a place where birds and insects can find some refuge and a snack. This pot of peas, then, is not at all unusual, but no less wonderful for its commonness. It was a welcome sight of verdant life as were the plum blossoms I spotted not much later in a temple garden. Let the Spring season begin.

February Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Tasty treats at the Moroccan Marche in Yokohama. A little snow, a little wind, and plenty of frost marks the beginning of February. Plum blossoms will soon add their cheerful color to the landscape, which means the growers and producers at the markets below will turn more of their attention to the chores of Spring. Hop on out to say hello to them and sample their lovely winter wares at one of these great markets. While you're at it, get the scoop on Spring, too! Greenmarket Sumida *Closed until March!* 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