Farmer’s markets are full of vibrancy, freshness, and a myriad of clean, all natural farmer’s produce. When the topic of markets is broached, images of the Borough Market or perhaps Queen Vic may come to mind. They are more commonplace in Western countries; Japan has many farms and cultivation grounds but to get these in bigger cities, the produce usually has to go through supermarkets. Another option is of course to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, but we don’t all have the luxury of doing that. So imagine how psyched I was to find that there is one right smack in the middle of Tokyo!
The Aoyama Farmer’s Market @UNU is located outside the United Nations University campus, and is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm. It is a quaint, cozy little market that sells produce including fruit and vegetables, tea, honey, ginger syrup, wine, flowers and homemade baked goods. There was even a stand that was spreading the goodness of Okinawan specialties. Some weekends are themed, which may be checked on the website. It was curry a couple of weeks ago, and this week’s was grapes. The grape varieties and prefectures of origin were amazing. I don’t know the names but there were deep purple spherical ones with pulpy flesh, firmer red oval ones, and long greenish red ones that were astringently dry and had a crisp bite (those were my favorite!). Most stalls offer tastings, and the owners are all very warm and friendly in introducing their own products. It seems much more meaningful as they know their stuff, and are proud of their produce. After working up an appetite from all the tasting and shopping, there are also food trucks and coffee, smoothie and craft beer vans that serve up organic and artisan products.
Here’s our loot for the day: microbiotic brown taco rice, the “omusubi” set of roast pork, onigiri and an egg, a nama red melon smoothie, a gouda cheese bagel and a spinach and cashew bagel, and kousui nashi 幸水梨 Japanese pears. Many of the food trucks incorporate health foods into their menu, such as brown rice, acai, or medicinal herbs. There was a falafel stand that that looked good but unfortunately only opened just as we were leaving.
It was very fun walking around the market on a warm Sunday afternoon, and some people even brought their pets out for a stroll! After that, we sat in the Aoyama Gakuin University’s garden just across the road for a little before walking to the doggy run area in Yoyogi Park to spend the rest of the day.
Farmer’s Market at UNU Aoyama*Automatic translation