Farmers Markets Tokyo!

I just have to blog about this, it is so great. Joan over at Japan Farmers Markets keeps telling everyone about these places where you can get fresh produce directly from farmers, from all over. Her blog is terrific. And she is doing it too, do read up if you want tips about organic farming, she's an expert. And she does all of this in the western area of Tokyo, an hour or so from your regular Yamanote line hangouts.

At Nippori you can join the obon dancing on Saturday night, until 8pm. East side of the station.

Good chance btw to learn more about the hard lessons of farmers in Tohoku since March 11, 2011.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tokyo Farmers Markets: Saturday, August 17th and Sunday, August 18th

Earth Day Market in June.
Welcome to the most farmers-market-y weekend in Tokyo! Markets abound making choices of which one to attend a bit tricky. I'm a fan of the Nippori Market for its petite size, excellent food options (try the manju!), and lovely vegetables, and Koenji is no slouch, either. The UN University Night Market, though, is the hands-down winner for summer evening grocery shopping fun - music, good food, and a festive atmosphere - for the whole family or a fascinating first date. The possibilities are endless!

Taking a vacation for the month of August! They'll be back on Sunday, September 4th. Map

Saturday,  August 17th and Sunday, August 18th (Probably.*)
A gem of a market hidden away in one of Tokyo's high-end shopping districts offering seasonal favorites in a way that feels homey yet rather boutique-y.
11am to 5pm
*The Gyre Market schedule has been a bit wonky of late, so I'll update this as I get confirmation.

Nippori Farmer's Market
Saturday, August 17th and Sunday, August 18th
10am to 5pm
A great market in the city found with a little help from friends, this one is sure to not disappoint. My first visit was wonderful despite cold temperatures and a smattering of rain. Plus, Tohoku growers are on hand sharing their best-of-the-best, so come on out to be part of the recovery and get something good to eat.
No map, but just head out the east exit and look for the green awnings!

The Nippori Farmer's Market is what I would call “off-the-grid.” It's not part of the larger Marche Japon gig or the all-organic Earth Day Markets series, but rather is the brainchild of the owner of a nearby mansion (condominium) owner who wanted to “do something nice” with the plaza space in front of the high rises. Given Nippori's historic feel and past controversies regarding the Fuji Viewing Street, it makes sense that he'd want to try to balance out his very modern high rises.

Based on my first visit I'd say this effort is a successful one. The Nippori Farmer's Market is small – about 30 to 40 vendors – but very pleasant with a remarkably good selection of items. Fresh vegetables, rice, cheese, seedlings, baked goods, fruit, and prepared foods to be eaten on the spot as well as those for snacking were all on hand. (I recommend without reservation Tatsuko Onaya's homemade manju and Ringo no Hana's steaming bowls of hearty tonjirou. We sat down for much-needed breaks at their respective tents to enjoy our food and take in the atmosphere of the market.) Vendors from Hokkaido, Niigata, Gunma, Aomori, and Aizu Wakamatu sported everything from potatoes to fish to apple vinegar to cabbage to nanohana to dried natto and bath salts.

This month's special feature, too, was a booth sponsored by EAC, a division of Asahi Industries (not the beer) where visitors could bring samples of items they wanted tested for radioactive cesium. Folks brought everything from soil to water to bread to rice to homegrown vegetables for testing. Interestingly enough, food items tested relatively low amounts while some soil samples came in with higher numbers. (I'll be doing a longer piece on this later, by the way.) One customer tested the shoes he'd worn that day to find nothing could be detected. (To be fair, the machine used that day couldn't detect anything below 10 becquerels.)

Certainly, the personal tour given me by Atsuko, the market manager, set the stage for a great visit, but in the end as always, it is the vendors that make the experience. To a person they were warm and welcoming, nearly all had samples and were ready to talk about their wares more in-depth. The atmosphere they created reminded me why small markets are sometimes preferable to large ones. The opportunity to talk with vendors is better since I don't feel like I'm taking up too much time or space, and there's more opportunity to peruse the market itself. The overall selection might be smaller – only one person selling strawberries, for example – but I don't really mind. It is sometimes nice to have only a few good things to choose from rather than having to search out the best of ten.

Started a little less than two years ago, the Nippori Farmer's Market has a homespun quality that is a delight to find in a big city. Vendor's chatted with each other as well as customer's, and even danced a bit at their stalls when the musical performances started. The presence of growers and producers from Aizu Wakamatsu, Miyagi, and Ibaraki mean, too, it's a good chance to support Tohoku as the region continues to rebuild and reimagine itself. Held monthly on both Saturday and Sunday visitors are sure to find plenty of good things to eat and explore. I know I'll be back.

Koenji Farmer's Market
Saturday, August 17th
A new market I spotted while riding the train on a Saturday morning into the city center. That circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre could only mean one thing! Sure enough, I found a small group of area growers and producers, and the bounty surely continues!
11am - 5pm

Saturday, August 17th
A unique event in the heart of the city that a vegetable loving geek like me wouldn't miss for the world. What better way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals you need to sustain an evening of karaoke and izakaya hopping?
5pm - 8pm

Every Saturday and Sunday

A massive weekend affair that is great fun and features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Plus, there's a most excellent selection of food trucks offering everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken to falafel!

10am to 4pm

Every Saturday

A first visit to this market was well worth the trek for the number of organic growers and getting to meet a Tokyo farmer from just down the tracks in Kokobunji!

10am to 2pm

Yurakucho Farmer's Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, Yurakacho 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 are also on hand to help fill the larder.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakacho station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

There are so many videos with great people. Enjoy.


Pandabonium said…
Awesome. Power (and food) to (and from) the people!
Martin J Frid said…
Without food, no power. It is that simple. Thanks!

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