Monday, February 12, 2018

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, and other items were stunning pieces. Using mostly natural dyes such as indigo and sakura (cherry) wood, Akira Sako, the workshop owner then works his magic on the loom to create unique designs for these smaller items as well as kimono. Sako moved from Shinjuku to Senshokumura, a village famous for dyeing, and has been perfecting his craft for more than fifty years.

Tasty greens and more from Nagano Frais Marche.
Those hankering for fresh vegetables will also find plenty to satisfy even in winter. Growers from Nagano are well represented by Nagano Frais Marche, a cooperative retailer, whose table tempted with spicy arugula, spinach, and wasabina among others. For a complete meal set, canned wild boar was also for sale. (A farm pest due to its love of fresh grains and vegetables, wild boar is a favorite ingredient in Japanese curry and a game meat rural areas hope will capture the interest of taste buds everywhere.) Fresh walnuts along with a handful of dried fruits were also available.

Bounty from Tohoku!
Vendors from Aomori were on hand with apples fresh and dried, while another table groaned with fresh produce from Fukushima prefecture. The finds there included a bag of deep red beans similar to kintokimame (kidney beans). These go by the name sasagi and are a popular addition to rice. They add color but don't break up as easily as adzuki beans sometimes can.

Dressing Sisters beautiful array of products.
Dressing Sisters, a little company located in Machida, was also on hand with a complete selection of their delectable dressings. All handmade using organic ingredients from Kyushu, their table represents something a flavor party. Be prepared: it will be difficult to choose just one.

A lovey assortment of daikon. Pickles, anyone?

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
11am to 5pm
Nearest Station: Yurakucho
Directions: Turn left out of the station toward Tokyo Koku Kaikan and look for the fun under the overhang!

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