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Rebuilding Faith: Fukushima Farmer Finds Support at Tokyo Farmers Market

Takako Kimura at the Nippori Farmers Market in Tokyo.

As a customer at Tokyo’s Nippori Farmers Market starts filling the katakuchi (shallow bamboo basket) that Takako Kimura holds for her, Takako speaks up. “It’s from Aizu Wakamatsu. Is it ok?” The woman, busy scanning Takako’s table groaning with daikon large and small, negi (long onions), broccoli and other winter vegetables, nods her head. “Daijoubu desu,” (“It’s fine,) she says adding a bag of rice to her growing pile of purchases.

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Nine Good Reasons to Find a Farmers Market in Tokyo

With supermarkets and convenience stores on almost every block and food cooperatives that deliver right to the door, why take the extra time go to a farmers market? The answer lies in the variety these markets offer in terms of location and atmosphere, not to mention the produce and expertise found nowhere else in the city. From Kichijoji’s busy little market to the United Nations University Farmers Market in Aoyoama to the Earth Day Market in Yoyogi, Tokyo farmers markets offer a year round spectacle of food that is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Still feeling skeptical? Here are nine excellent reasons for heading out to one each week.

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Eight Innovative Ways to Keep Cool in Tokyo

Tokyo is not just the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, but it is easily the hottest. Coming from the American Midwest, I’m accustomed to heat and humidity, but in small doses. Usually, a week of withering 99-degree heat and high
humidity settles in like a hot wet blanket that can’t be shaken off. It’s about then that the western sky visible through my mother’s kitchen window fills with thunderclouds of epic proportions. As we watch, the ensuing thunderstorm chases away the heat and leaves the world feeling refreshed and lighter until the heat comes creeping around again a few weeks later.

Tokyo summers, though, are a different beast. Here, temperatures begin rising steadily in June, and continue to a crescendo matched only by the cicadas humming in the trees. The tomatoes at my Tokyo farm happily soak up these warm rays as do the cucumbers, corn, and watermelon. They produce so jubilantly that it seems we can’t fill the bags for our little stand fast enough.

I, however, am not a tomato. Walking the heat-permeated streets means breaking into a light sweat under my shade umbrella. Early morning and early evening are when I can tolerate running errands, gardening, or cooking. For those in-between times, though, when the sun is at its peak of heat, I’ve got a few tricks for keeping cool up my sleeve. Here are a few of my favorites:

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More Expert Advice from the Ekberg’s on Living Green

The Ekberg’s shared so much good information during the time we spent in their home interviewing them about their green remodel that we broke it into a few different articles here. Tips on how to take advantage of natural energy in the home as well as water saving techniques are all part and parcel of their holistic thinking for a One Planet Home. Read on and see what other ideas they have that might work for you!

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Remember to be Holistic! The Ekberg’s Expert Advice on Greening Your Home

Peo and Satoko shared countless tips during our visit, and we touched on the main points in the story of how they re-designed their new apartment. Whether planning a remodel or renting an partment, try to imagine your home as an eco-system in which you eat, find your clothes, and spend your time. As Peo often says, “Think holistic!” Then the steps to change become clear!

Use Natural Energy

1. Double-paned windows keep it warm in winter and cool in summer. (The Ekbergs maintain 30 degrees Celsius year-round.)

2. White walls and an angled beam accentuate natural light as does a glass window between the bedroom and living room.

3. With double-paned windows, candles become a great heat source when spending time together. Humans radiate 100 watts of heat, too!

4. Note the small solar panel hidden on the balcony. The sun gives light and powers an indoor lamp.

5. The lamp, invented by a friend, needs a few hours of charging for an evening’s light. A washi shade sets a nice tone, too!

Save Water Without Noticing

6. The kitchen faucet automatically uses fifty-percent less water. A click signals that the hot water heater is engaged.

7. A Swedish low-flow shower head combines air and water for a great shower that uses seventy-percent less water.


Look for more good ideas from the Ekberg’s next week. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out their whole green remodel story, and let us know what you think!