A farmers’ market is a marketplace where farmers directly sell food or farm products directly to their customers without selling through a middleman. That means you can buy them at cheap prices. Besides, those products can be guaranteed by farmers that all of the farm products are fresh foods and without insecticide. Sometimes you can ask for a discount ;).
What Are Japanese Farmer’s Markets Like?
In Japan, most farmers’ markets usually stay at outdoor places where farmers sell fruits, vegetables, and meats. A farmer market also reflects the Japanese culture and economy. You can buy any food products within one place called a ‘supermarket’ in Japan, but it may take time for you to find what you want to buy (If you have a list in your hands or head) in a farmers market. However, You will be able to find local fresh food which has been sold only at farmers markets in the different area.
I have experience with a farmer market in my hometown (Thailand). I would say all of the products were SUPER fresh and SUPER cheap but it was dirty. (sigh) I did not mean their selling products were dirty. In my opinion, the marketplaces where I went were dirty. The floor filled with unclean water from ice which they used for stocking their fresh products. Most markets in my hometown were smelling. Moreover, salespersons usually wear filthy clothes. Most of the customers seemed like they did not care much about the floor or place. They did care a lot about how cheap and how fresh the products sold were. I interviewed some of them about these problems they said they do not care about the place because the food which they eat do not on the floor. Furthermore, before they cook the food they always washed it. They assume that heat from cooking could kill germs. Thus, they believed it was safe. For your information (again), you have to use 15 Pounds per Square pressure and a temperature of 121 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes for killing all types of germs. I usually went there with my mom, She could get a lot of discounts when she bought a lot of food and got a promotion to buy 2 and get 1 for free. She could get even free gift when her total paid reached the salesperson’s set price. For your information, these rules depend on the place, shop, date and how kind a salesperson is.
The first time when my friends invited me to join them to explore the farmers market in Japan, I denied their invitation because hearing markets made me do not want to go. Nevertheless, I joined them because I wanted to know the difference between my hometown’s markets and Japan’s markets. What I discovered from joining my friends to explore the Japanese farmer’s market was nice. Actually, the word cannot tell how much the farmer’s markets in Japan are nice. If you have a chance I recommend you to take a look and enjoy farmers’ markets by yourself when you visit Japan.
For this article, please allow me to show you the farmer’s markets in Japan.
Dream Market at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
I usually bought fresh foods and farming products from this dream market when I was an exchange student at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. The agriculture products and processed foods such as miso, fermented milk (Calpis), jam, soba noodle and ice cream which produces by FS center Student are sold at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology at Fuchu campus every Thursday. The selling products from this market are cheaper than the supermarket, as well as they are fresh from the farm. In the case that you have no idea what should you do with the fresh and cheap ingredients that you buy, please feel free to consult me by dropping me a note in the comment box below. I promise to do my best to help you figure it out.
For more information about the dream market please check their homepage.
(Only Japanese language is available.)
I heartily recommend you try this delicious ice cream. I could not stop myself when I ate this ice cream. It has many flavors such as green tea and chocolate. (160 yen each) My favorite is milk flavor. They use milk from their cows on the farm to make this ice cream. You can find this ice cream only at Dream market at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.
Another recommendation from me is Calpis which made by FS center. (400 yen per one bottle) It tastes similar as normal Calpis but deeper than normal Calpis in Supermarket because they use milk as the main ingredient to make this tasty Calpis. You have to mix it with water at the ratio 1 (Calpis): 4 (water) before you drink. So you can make Oishi Calpis from 500 ml to 2 liters. Besides, you store it outside the refrigerator until the expired date if you do not open the cap, but if you already open it please keep it in the refrigerator.
Ueno is a landmark in Tokyo, Japan. You can spend all day at Ueno because this place has the zoo, the museum, the shopping center, and Ameyoko market. This market is a street market where the salesperson sells not only food but also bags, clothes, or even cosmetics. Opening hours and closing days depend on each store. Most of them open around 10.00 and close around 20.00.
For more information please visit their website. (Only Japanese language is available.)
My top 5 recommended foods to eat in Ameyoko, Ueno
1. Soft cream from Cha-no-kiminoen: The price starts from 300 yen
There are many flavors of soft cream in Japan, but the soft cream from this shop is special because they use pure green tea to make soft cream. The selling products in this shop are made from green tea. They also have green tea powder for making tea. However, the most popular selling products from this shop are a soft cream. They have 3 flavors of soft cream which are pure vanilla, pure green tea, and mix between Hokkaido milk and green tea.
2. Kaisendon (seafood bowl) from Minato ya: The price starts from 500 yen
You assume that this shop is just a simple restaurant, but the truth is NO. First of all, you have to choose the dishes from the menu in front of the restaurant and pay money. This restaurant is self-service so while you are waiting for your dishes, feel free to have a cup of water. Soy sauce and wasabi are ready on the table. You can taste fresh fish with sushi rice just only 500 yen from this restaurant.
3. A full bite of sushi from Miura Misaki You: The price starts from 108 yen up to 660 yen.
The price of each sushi dish depends on the dish’s color. This sushi restaurant has interesting point which is the chef puts excessive raw fish on the top of sushi rice, so the sushi rice cannot be seen. You can taste how fresh fish from sushi within a single bite.
Ameyoko is not only a shopping center that sells fresh foods but also this place has delicious and cheap Japanese restaurants for visitors to try.
4. Fresh fruit skewer: The price starts from 100 yen
For someone who does not want to buy the big melon and cut it by yourself, you can buy a single piece of melon from Ameyoko by single coin (100 yen). Salesperson always sale the seasonal fruits, so it is cheap and it has a sweet taste.
5. Umami ramen from Motomaru ramen
The chef from Motomaru ramen punctiliously cooks pork bone broth which is the main part of ramen every day. Thus, I can guarantee it is worth for everyone to taste ramen from this shop. Moreover, the English menu is available in this restaurant. When you are about to order the food, you just insert money and press the button menu which you want to eat. After that, you have to get the coupon from the vending machine and give it to the chef. Ramen will be served with medium boiled egg, thick pork, seaweed, and vegetables which makes this ramen dish become perfectly tasty. For someone who wants to try spicy ramen, you can taste it from this restaurant. Please be careful spicy ramen from this ramen shop is really spicy.
Fruit Picking Farms
Recently, there is a new type of fruit farm in Japan. Actually, it is not a new type of fruit farm, but it is a nice idea from farmers that they allow customers to come to their farm and eat fresh fruits from the tree. The customers can eat fresh fruit as much as they can, also known as a buffet. For bringing back home you have to pay for extra, but trust me it is cheaper than buying it from a supermarket. The customers are able to eat fresh and cheap fruits as much as they want, while the farmers do not have to hire employees to pick the fruits and do not waste money to ship all the fruits products to supermarkets. Moreover, the customers have a chance to have a bite other products which have not been sold in supermarkets from their farms such as dried fruit, jam, preserved fruit, pickled fruit, ice cream, fruit candy, and juice. This business is the win-win situation for both sides. The reason is when you buying the fruits in a supermarket, you have to pay for their box packages or shipping fee. Besides, you may not be able to buy the fresh fruits in the supermarket because it takes time for shipping the fruits from a farm to the supermarket in the city. I am enchanted to everything that is rolling in once a year. Thus, I recommend you to eat the seasonal fruits because it is not only cheap, easy to find and buy them but also it is the best time of the year to taste those fruits. You can check the seasonal fruits from each month in the following table.
Reference: Tokyo metropolitan central wholesale market (東京都中央卸売市場) Information may change depending on the weather each year.
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Strawberry Farms in Japan
1. Tochigi Prefecture
2. Fukuoka Prefecture
3. Saga Prefecture
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Cherry Farms in Japan
1. Yamagata Prefecture
2. Aomori Prefecture
3. Yamanashi Prefecture
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Peach Farms in Japan
1. Yamanashi Prefecture
2. Fukushima Prefecture
3. Nagano Prefecture
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Pear Farms in Japan
1. Chiba Prefecture
2. Ibaraki Prefecture
3. Tottori Prefecture
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Grape Farms in Japan
1. Yamanashi Prefecture
2. Nagano Prefecture
3. Yamagata Prefecture
Top 3 Prefectures That Have the Most Apple Farms in Japan
1. Aomori Prefecture
2. Nagano Prefecture
3. Iwate Prefecture
Do not forget to check the seasonal fruit each month before you make a reservation to visit fruit picking farm in Japan.
I went to a strawberry fruit picking farm once in Chiba Prefecture with my friends when I was an exchange student in Tokyo, Japan because I watched Chibi maruko chan. In that episode, Maruko chan had a field trip to go to the strawberry farm. According to my previous writing article, please check out the animation named ‘Chibi maruko chan’ because I also learned the Japanese language from this animation. Her lifestyle was the same as my lifestyle when I was a little especially maruko chan’s grandfather was similar to my grandpa. Furthermore, I learned Japanese culture from this animation. For example, the activity during Hina Matsuri or girl’s day (on the 3rd of March) is a special day for girls. People pray for the happiness and the healthy growth of girls. Japanese people who have girls (daughter or niece) in their home display a set of ornamental dolls on the shelf which is covered with a red carpet. Those dolls represent the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in the traditional court dress during the Heian era (794-1185 CE).
As I told you in this article, the farmers’ markets in Japan are amazing. Likewise, there are still a lot of farmers markets in Japan you should visit. Please do share your experience in the comment box below about farmers’ markets in your hometown. Besides, do not forget to tell me about your story when you visit the farmer’s market in Japan!