Support And Enjoy Aizu Wakamatsu In Nippori, Tokyo

Do you like farmers markets? If you are in Tokyo, do explore Nippori for the monthly Marche events, and get a chance to buy fresh vegetables and lots of food from all over Japan, from Hokkaido to Kagoshima and Okinawa: The people who grow it, know it.

Nippori Yume Donya (J)

This weekend the focus is on Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima, as the local farmers and the city office decided to support a great summer dance event, with all kinds of surprises.

Do wear a yukata if you are so inclined. Saturday evening should be a lot of fun! I'm also told a television team will be covering the event, so if you do get caught in front of a camera, there is your chance to be on national TV!

East exit from JR Nippori station, you'll see the green tents once you are out of the station.

I like how we can create events, and go beyond the usual structures. We need good people who make an effort. In Japan, the JA people are great, they do a lot of good, but we need more than that to provide services that reach out to consumers, in new ways. We need teikei. We need people like Nippori Yume Donya that can cut, cut, cut through rules and make their events be happy, happy, happy. We create events because we like to meet people we trust.

Nippori Yume Donya (J) and Nippori Marche got the Food Action Award in 2012.

I like how this market has kept its focus on special products. The Japanese term is 特産品問屋 in other words, this market does not sell just anything, but carefully selects and screens its vendors.

Arakawa-ku is also very particular about health standards, ok, that is something I do agree with, but sometime the rules are too much. For example, the Pakistani vendor can sell his curry with nan, but not with rice. What kind of sense does that make? Having said that, it is great that the city and the people responsible for the event have avoided any kinds of claims. You have no idea how much this can bear down on events like this in Japan.

Most of the veggies on sale are non-pesticide (無農薬). Many other foods are local and unique in the sense that the product can only be made in that particular place.

Do explore.

Joan says:

I like to think of it as a day full of sunshine and vegetables and fun. A handful of folks joined me at the Nippori Farmers Market on Sunday for some good food and conversation. Not a one of us walked away empty-handed, and at least two of us carted home spaghetti squash. (I like to think my trips to the assorted farmers markets around town help prepare me for our various hiking expeditions.)

Some of the yummy delights on hand!
The only disappointment of the day was the absence of Onaya-san and her scrumptious manju, but that was more than made up for by the presence of a group of farmers from Ibaraki. My word, but their produce was beautiful - mizuna, shungiku (edible chrysanthemum greens), negi (long onions), daikon, kuri (chestnuts), and some very cute squash - and they were good fun. Thankfully, I snagged their last bag of kaki (persimmons) and a very nice bunch of red radishes. Our salad doth overflow. I hope to visit them some time in the next year to enjoy their company and help out a bit as I can. I suspect it will be a blast.

Thanks to those who made it out with me to the market and for a stroll about Yanaka afterwards. It was a perfect day!

Shisaku: Urban Harvest Tokyo

Eliminating the economic inefficiency sounds excellent. Possibly increasing the size of homes sounds great. However, the actual costs to society imposed by these little fields seem trivial as compared to the benefits being enjoyed by all.

Go to a local market... Isn't it great to be able to talk to the people who make your food, and voice any concern you may have?

Economic inefficiency? Try explaining that to the young people who are eager to start farming in Japan.

More about Nippori Marche on Joan's blog, Japan Farmers Markets, Nippori Farmer's Market: A Little Market Only by Some Standard

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. 

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.

Photos from Joan's blog Japan Farmers Markets

Update: In spite of rain, the events went ahead today as planned! What a crew.


Pandabonium said…
That sounds like great fun. 'Would have loved to have attended - and danced. Of course I'd love to visit Aizu Wakamatsu itself too. I haven't been there in over 25 years. Kayaking on Lake Inawashiro would be nice too...
Pandabonium said…
Also, with your mention of manju you've reminded of a joke about a manju loving Buddhist priest. I'll have to try and remember it in detail so I can tell it to you properly sometime.

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