Four Favourite Tokyo Farmers Markets

Earth Day Market Farmers all smiles with the season

Earth Day Market farmers all smiles with the season

 

We are delighted to welcome back Joan Lambert Bailey for this guest post, which should inspire us to travel to Tokyo.

‘Tokyo’ and ‘farmers market’ may seem an odd juxtaposition, but if there is one thing people in Japan, and this city in particular, like to do it is eat. The fresher the food the better, to boot, and so it should be no surprise that the country’s largest city is full of farmers markets. On any given weekend, food enthusiasts can wander out to these well-located markets (most are near centres of major activity) to sample the season’s best offerings, meet local growers and producers, and often take in a live performance of one kind or another. Whether you’re a tourist with a keen interest in food or a resident looking for an alternative to the supermarket, the markets are sure to please. So, grab your shopping bag, camera, a friend, and enjoy another side of this great megalopolis!

Earth Day Market

A few steps beyond Harajuku’s fantastical teen shopping scene and Yoyogi Park’s mix of Goth, Punk, and Rockabilly folk is the crown jewel of Tokyo farmers markets. The Earth Day Market, Tokyo’s only all organic, all fair trade market, is a must-stop for any traveler interested in food or farming. Visitors to this monthly market will find everything from heirloom vegetables to a unique selection of traditional grains and stone ground flours to tea to seasonal fruit to jam. Settle in at one of the long wooden tables in the shade to people watch, savor a little music with a plate of food from one of the many excellent food trucks on hand, and decide which handicraft–the hand-dyed scarf or the bamboo basket–to take home.
Earth Day Market

Nearest Station: Harajuku (a 10 minute walk)
10am – 4pm
Website: http://www.earthdaymarket.com/
Map

United Nations University Farmers Market

Scrumptious Yamanashi peaches at UNU Market

Yamanashi Peaches: UNU Market

Easily the largest market on the Tokyo scene, the UN University market has been growing steadily since setting up their first tables in 2009. A two-day extravaganza of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as grains, breads, prepared foods, and handicrafts, the market hosts upwards of 10,000 visitors each weekend perusing the tables of more than sixty vendors from all over Japan. For an alternative evening activity, consider the Night Market. Held the third Saturday of each month, a handful of vendors linger to socialize, sell some good food, and enjoy live music. Bicycle enthusiasts can also don a helmet and do some Night Pedal Cruising, too!
United Nations University Market
Nearest Stations: Shibuya (a 5 minute walk) and Omotesando (an 8 minute walk)
10am – 4pm
Website: http://www.farmersmarkets.jp/
Map

Roppongi Farmers Market

Roppongi Market: citrus from Ehime

Roppongi Market: citrus from Ehime

A Saturday-only event in a tonier part of the city, this weekly market features an excellent mix of organic and conventional growers and producers from the Tokyo area as well as other parts of Japan. Smaller than the massive UN University Market, visitors will still find plenty of fresh and pre-prepared items to nibble (Samples reign supreme here!) while taking in whatever live performance is underway. Tucked in the covered corner of the Ark Hills open air courtyard means weather is of no concern to shoppers and vendors alike.
Roppongi Farmers Market
Nearest Station: Roppongi Itchome (a 5 minute walk)
10am – 2pm
Map


Nippori Farmers Market

Nippori market: fresh chimaki mochi

Nippori market: fresh chimaki mochi

The smallest of the markets listed here, the Nippori market deserves notice both for its location and its carefully selected vendors, which includes a small group from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture. Steps away from Yanaka, an ancient edge of Tokyo where visitors can still find hints of the old city as well as views of Mount Fuji in the west in the winter, growers and producers showcase everything from the usual seasonal fruits and vegetables to homemade noodles, rice, dried natto, seedlings, and five different types of homemade manju (a steamed bun served sweet or savory). A range of live musical performances on Sundays gives the market an especially festive atmosphere.
Nippori Farmers Market
Nearest Station: Nippori (a 1 minute walk)
Website: http://www.nipporiyumedonya.com/


Joan Lambert BaileyJoan Lambert Bailey currently lives and writes in Tokyo where she is lucky enough to get her hands dirty on a local organic farm. You can follow her adventures in Japanese food from seed to harvest to table to farmers market at Japan Farmers Markets or on Twitter. This is Joan’s second contribution to Speed River Journal. Also be sure to read Tokyo Waterways: The City’s Other Wild Side.


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