Friday, March 30, 2018

April Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

Cesar Hernandez of Romero's Salsa at the Vancouver, Washington Farmers Market.

As the wind blusters about outside and the sakura (cherry trees) shake their blossoms, April arrives on the doorstep. The new month brings with it ever increasing harvests and rapidly changing menus. Head to the markets this month to find sansai (mountain vegetables), early greens, late daikon, and even some seedlings to get your own garden off to a good start!

Earth Day Market

Sunday, April 1
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

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8
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.

Osonbashi Marche
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15*
This new market in Yokohama is one I have only seen a poster and website for, but not been to yet. The venue should be beautiful, and I have no doubt the offerings will be good. Keep in mind that it is relatively new, so it might be small. However, markets don't get bigger and better if you don't go to them and support the people there. I can't go this month, but I'd love to hear from anyone who does!
10:30am to 3:30pm
Nihon-Oodoori Station
Look for the exit for the International Ferry Passenger Terminal and follow the signs.
*They have not updated their website yet for April, so proceed with caution. I'll update as soon as I know something definite.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15
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.

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, April 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, April 21*
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, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, April 22
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, April 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!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: A Slice of Blue Pine

Detail of a slice of blue pine at Metalwood Salvage.
On our last day in Portland, Oregon we strolled about a neighborhood not too far from the airport and not too far from where we started this latest adventure. We stumbled on Metalwood Salvage. Perhaps one of the most interesting places I have seen in some time, they carry a somewhat curated collection of scrap metal, glass, and wood that answers the call of practicality and whimsy alike. There was nothing we needed but much that we would gladly have taken away with us including this slice of blue pine.

Named for the color of the fungus spread by the Mountain Pine Beetle, a native beetle to this side of the country, blue pine is the result of the beetles newfound energy with the changing climate. Cold winters kept the population in check, but the changing climate and warmer summers give it plenty of time to work. Particularly long warm snaps can result in large stands of dead wood or snags as they are called out here. Getting rid of the snags reduces risk of fire, and turning the wood into something beautiful puts the wood to good use.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25

Bright Swiss Chard bundles at the Portland State University Farmers Market.
Hard to believe the month is almost done, but March is winding down. Rain or shine, the blossoms keep coming as do the vegetables. Seasons don't stop for inconvenient weather or even when we want to pause in the best of it. Head on out to say hello to the growers and producers serving up some of the best their fields have to offer. Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every 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, March 22, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: Tidal Pools and Ocean Cliffs

Near Devil's Punchbowl on the Oregon Coast.

Our time along the Oregon Coast has been simply spectacular. We have explored and visited various places along the way and been astounded every time. There is something remarkable about the ocean and where it meets the land. While I love the prairies, I find life here mesmerizing.

Friday, March 16, 2018

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

Brianna at Bernard's Farm on the way to Newport, Oregon.
Go for a closer look at the beautiful barn, stay for the awesome produce, eggs, and cider.

Once again, the most farmers-markety weekend of the month is upon us. Spring is in full swing, and cherry blossoms are making their presence known. Get the jump on your hanami (blossom viewing) supplies and a few surprise treats to share with friends. Nanohana (rape blossoms) should also be in abundance this weekend, so don't be shy about picking up a bundle or two. You can make them the traditional way or add them to salad for a cheerful touch. Whatever you decide, have fun and make the most of it!

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

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, March 17*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*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, March 17 and Sunday, March 18
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

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

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


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

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

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

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every 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, March 15, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: Yaquina Head Lighthouse Lens

A side view of the magnificent Fresnel lens at Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Our visit to the Oregon coast included a full three days at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. A regular ticket is good for three days, so we made the most of it by exploring Cobblestone Beach and its magical tidal pools, watching seals loll about in Quarry Cove at high tide, and marveling at the great rafts of common murre that fed and chatted just beyond the cliffs.

The lens, though, of Yaquina Head Lighthouse itself is worth a visit. Manufactured in Paris and shipped over in pieces, the Fresnel lens is a magnificent working piece of art atop this still functioning lighthouse. Assembled on location using brass nuts and bolts, no pieces have been replaced and only two have chips. Our guide informed us that these occurred during transport, not while it has been in use.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Portland State University Farmers Market: A Review


Glorious bouquets at the market.
Our recent travels took me to Portland, Oregon for a visit with friends and family. Of course, they graciously joined me on a foray over to one of the weekend markets happening in that lovely city, the Portland State University Farmers Market.

Set deep in the heart of the city on the campus of Portland State University, I found a delightful crowd of vendors and immediately lost myself in the sights and smells of a bustling weekly market. Even in winter, when apparently the market is half of its summer size, there was plenty to choose from to set a table for the week.

Awesome baby carrots! (I somehow neglected to take a photo of the orchard table...)
My first stop of Kiyokawa Orchards. Recommended by a friend, the orchards are plum full (pun intended) of delicious fruits. On that particular Saturday, they offered an excellent supply of apples - Red Delicious, Cameo a.k.a. Carousel, and Crimson Crisp -  with four kinds of pears at one end of the display. I came away with the Cameo and Crimson Crisp as I can resist almost no apple when at a farmer's market. (I will also highly recommend this YouTube video produced by the Hollywood Farmer's Market where they visit the orchard and talk with Randy Kiyokawa.) The farm grows about 120 different varieties of fruit and has a highly recommended U-Pick experience that if I were here during apple season would be a definite stop.

Jeff Garritano of Scratch Meats at the Portland State University Market.
Owner and chief sausage guy at Scratch Meats, Jeff Garritano, stood before a sizzling grill tempting passersby with the scent of his homemade sausages. A former math and science teacher, Jeff has been selling his sausages for six years, although he's been making them forever he says. "The Italian sausage is a family recipe," he told me as I took a bite. Made using ingredients from Oregon and Washington, the sausage is flavorful without being too greasy or overpowering. His family originally hails from the Calabria region of Italy, and it is clear that along with the recipe Jeff inherited the talent for making it.

Gathering Together's display that my photo does not do justice.
Trust me. It was beautiful.
I wandered then past one of the best fresh vegetables displays I have ever seen at Gathering Together Organic Farm's stall. The textures and colors of the kales, chards, and radishes were so like a painting with their vibrancy that it was difficult to look away. Their selection of baby greens was just as lovely, and I was thrilled when my friend gathered up a huge bag for our salad that evening.

There were plenty of places to stop for a bite, but I tried to stick to my rule of making at least one lap of a market before purchasing anything. The warm scent of Enchanted Sun Burritos drifted over, but I kept moving, excusing myself through the long line of people in front of Money Bowl. My friend told me this is a newer member of the take-away food scene at this market, and we looked on with gurgling stomachs as people left the stall with metal bowls of noodles heaped with various bright vegetables and sauces. However, the next booth proved irresistible.

Eva with her on-tap kombucha.
Eva Sippl of Herbucha serves up three different kinds of kombucha in to-go or stay-at-the-market cups. "It's not konbu-cha," she warned as she handed me a sample of her Rose City Blend. Instead of that salty, kelp-infused brew, I imbibe a soft mix of herbs and a wee bit of rose water that is an acknowledgement of Portland's love affair with that particular bloom. A licensed natural health practitioner, she puts her knowledge of herbs and healing techniques together to craft something unique in Portland. After a bit more sampling, I chose Detox in a stay-at-the-market cup. "It feels really healthy," my husband said, but I fell in love with it for the zippy ginger flavor that sparkled tangy and sweet on the tongue.

Elizabeth of Lonesome Whistle Farm and that amazing popcorn.
I didn't get too far before the scent and sight of one of my absolute favorite things in the world pulled me to a booth like a magnet. Elizabeth, part of the crew at Lonesome Whistle Farm, was serving up bags of freshly popped heirloom popcorn. Dakota Black, one of my early favorites, is on the menu and I paused to chat and munch. Around for about 15 years, Jeff Broadie and Kasey White, the farmer-owners of Lonesome Whistle are carving out a delicious and important niche for their farm in the new grains movement. Their booth offered rolled oats, whole barley, wheat berries, bread flour, and golden flax seed. The Dakota Black comes ready for popping, but they also offer it ground as cornmeal and polenta. I am still excited beyond belief.

Other than popcorn, chocolate is another item I cannot resist. So, when I spotted the samples at Honey Mama's, I casually paused to try a bite. Made using a blend of honey, cocoa, and coconut oil (see more about their ingredients here), I worked my way through lavender, coconut, Mayan Spice, peppermint, and coffee nibs before getting edged out by other visitors. Smooth and perfectly sweet, the bars are magnificent.

Ian of New Deal Distillery serving up the good stuff.
My final stop at the market was New Deal Distillery. A little overwhelmed at this point and not sure if I had another lap in me or not, this was a great place to pause and chat. Ian, a New Deal Distillery staff member and enthusiast, stood cheerfully bundled against the cold behind an array of bottles. Being from Wisconsin, I opted for the pear brandy. "We got the local fruit and just let the magic happen," Ian said as I sipped the surprisingly clear liquid. Smooth and flavorful, it went down easy, but it was the Ginger Liqueur that stole the show for us and the small crowd of other visitors that soon gathered around to sip and assess. Sweet, hot, and pleasantly punchy, we all were in love with this one.

Portland State University Farmers Market
Every Saturday
9am - 2pm (November through March)
8:30am - 2pm (April through October)

Friday, March 9, 2018

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

Sign for the farmers market at Portland State University.
March started out with a bang of markets, and this weekend will prove no different.  Head on out to one of these lovelies, including the new Osonbashi Marche in Yokohama, to see what delights might be found. Food is one of the great ways to get to know a person, a place, and a culture, and the markets are a gateway to that. Don't be shy, and don't worry about language. A smile, a show of interest, and sincere shared joy will take you far!

Osonbashi Marche
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11
This new market in Yokohama is one I have only seen a poster and website for, but not been to yet. The venue should be beautiful, and I have no doubt the offerings will be good. Keep in mind that it is relatively new, so it might be small. However, markets don't get bigger and better if you don't go to them and support the people there. I can't go this month, but I'd love to hear from anyone who does!
10:30am to 3:30pm
Nihon-Oodoori Station
Look for the exit for the International Ferry Passenger Terminal and follow the signs.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 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.

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

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, March 17*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*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, March 17 and Sunday, March 18
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

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

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


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

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

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

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every 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, March 8, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: Hakuba Views

A tree met while snowshoeing in Hakuba.

In mid-February we took a short trip up to Hakuba in search of snow. These mountains in Nagano offer some of the country's loveliest skiing and most beautiful views. The day this photo was taken we were snowshoeing along a ridge line trail. The weather was perfect, the company good, and the snow deep. We saw rabbits, a variety of birds, and tracks of plenty of other creatures that we didn't know. Clearly, though, we weren't alone out there.

This lovely beast of a tree caught my eye as it stood on the edge of trail, peering into the valley below and the mountains beyond. Given it's size and girth, it has done so for a long time. I'd like to hear it's stories and see who else visits throughout the year. Near a small mountain shrine, it must be a witness to much. I was glad for the chance to meet and be added to its register of guests.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Kakurinbo: A Recommended Retreat

Walking among the grand cedars on the way up to Kuonji.

Off in the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture is a charming little shokubo (pilgrim inn) that rests in a nook of the mountain where Kuonji, head temple of the Nichiren sect, sits. There I enjoyed some of the best local, seasonal food I have ever had in Japan and one of the steepest sets of temple stairs. It is a peaceful, stunning place that I can't recommend enough. Whether cycling by, planning a hike in the nearby mountains, or just hoping to get away, it is a wonderful place. Read my article about my stay, and then head over to find out for yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Experience Farms and Community Gardens: How to Get Gardening in Japan

A happy first-time gardener with her winter daikon at a taiken nouen.

I'm often asked if I know how people can find a little spot of their own to grow something in Japan. This post offers a variety of links to help people get started on their hunt.

Shimin Nouen (Community Gardens)
Shimin nouen (community gardens) and taiken nouen (experience farms) are a great way to get a little garden, get involved with the community here, and have some tasty fun, too. Shimin nouen tend to be run by local governments - cities, prefectures, or towns - and are scattered about the area. There will be rules about managing the plot, possibly about what materials (organic or not) can be used, pets, children, and possibly even times of access. Terms of use may be limited to two or three years in popular locations, while in others the spot is yours for the growing as long as you like. My shimin nouen is actually a local club activity with some rules but no term limits. More of this kind do exist, but they usually don't have websites. Word of mouth is how most folks learn about them, so be friendly!

A weekend session explaining the project for the day at a taiken nouen.

Taiken Nouen (Experience Farms)

Taiken nouen are often run by NPPO's or private farmers who want to keep their land in production but don't necessarily want to farm on a large scale. Taiken nouen offer these farmers, particularly in urban and suburban areas, the chance to do just that. It also caters to member of the local community hankering to get their hands in the dirt but not sure where or how to start. Twice a month on weekends classes are offered in everything from planting seeds to pests to techniques for weeding and harvest times. It can be a pretty highly managed affair, but for newbies it is just the kind of hand-holding that is needed and wanted. The farmers I helped out in Tokyo for five years made the transition to this a few years ago and have no regrets, especially now that their two adorable grandchildren are on the scene. The people participating seem very happy, too, as more than half of the members renewed again for this year! (They still have openings, I believe, so check out their web page.)

Work underway at a taiken nouen.

Renting a Field
It is also possible to rent a farmers field, but I'd only advise that if your language and culture skills were reasonably strong and if you live in a semi-rural area. Being known and connected is very important here, and even eager Japanese growers can find this a challenge, so don't feel that you are being singled out if you are a foreigner. Pleasant persistence is sometimes the most effective tool in this situation along with patience.

Useful Websites for Finding a Place to Grow
Following is a list of websites to get you started on your hunt. Prices vary by location and program, but all should be satisfying. Much of this information does not exist in English at all, so make good use of Google translate and then be brave and head out to see how you can get involved. To be honest, if you are a foreigner, you may be greeted with friendly hesitation at first. However, pleasant persistence, lots of smiling and a general easy-goingness will take you far.

FarmNavi - This website lists both community gardens and experience farms all over Japan. It is not totally comprehensive, but it is a good resource to get the ball rolling.

Sharebatake - Another great website for finding taiken nouen operations all over Japan. The name combines the word 'share' with 'hatake (farm)'. (The h goes to b for pronunciation purposes.) Clever, eh?

Nyouen Kyoukai - This nationwide taiken nouen NPO offers information on experience farms all over the country. This happens to be the organization that my Tokyo farmers work with, too.

As I mentioned above, each prefecture and city provides a list of community gardens like this page from Kanagawa Prefecture.

This page for Oiso, a coastal town in Kanagawa, offers a list of the community gardens, the number of spots available, and lays out fees and terms. Some do have a limited time usage (up to three years, for example), so be sure to ask.

Local Japan Agriculture (JA) offices will also sometimes list farms or places open to community agriculture that might be anything from straight-up gardening to citrus farming or a kind of taiken nouen. This one for Hadano City in Kanagawa is a good example.

Then there are organizations like Oiso Farm, which is a kind of hybrid of all of these yet again, that combine some form of hands-on farming experience with potlucks, work parties, regular parties, and general fun. (This group is definitely foreigner friendly and also happens to be the force behind the lovely Oiso Market, by the way. )


Friday, March 2, 2018

March Farmers Markets in Tokyo and Yokohama

More deliciousness from the Moroccan Marche at Zounohana Terrace.
Check out their cool events this month, too!

This month brings us one step closer to full-fledged Spring, so put some eagerness in your step as you head out to one or more of these great markets. The Earth Day Market is popping up on the first weekend of the month, and the Greenmarket Sumida is back! Hooray! I'm also sharing information about a new market in Yokohama, the Osonbashi Marche, that I recently learned about but haven't had a chance to visit yet. Down on the water in a beautiful venue, it should be worth checking out. Let me know what you find if you go! Meanwhile, enjoy the usual round-up and see what tasty treasures can be found. As always, there will be no shortage, I am sure!

Earth Day Market

Sunday, March 4
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

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

Osonbashi Marche
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11
This new market in Yokohama is one I have only seen a poster and website for, but not been to yet. The venue should be beautiful, and I have no doubt the offerings will be good. Keep in mind that it is relatively new, so it might be small. However, markets don't get bigger and better if you don't go to them and support the people there. I can't go this month, but I'd love to hear from anyone who does!
10:30am to 3:30pm
Nihon-Oodoori Station
Look for the exit for the International Ferry Passenger Terminal and follow the signs.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 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.

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

Koenji Farmers Market
Saturday, March 17*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*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, March 17 and Sunday, March 18
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

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

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


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

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

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

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every 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!