Farmers’ Market Festival in Japan

I took another trip back to Nijinonaka, the local farmers’ market here in Tokaimura. Every once in a while they have a special festival day, and local farmers gather to sell their fruits and veggies at an even better price than usual. It’s not just about produce, though. There are lots of artisans selling baked goods, rice crackers, pickles, miso paste, peach juice, and a whole bunch of other goodies.



I picked up three bags of Japanese rice crackers (sembei), which came in neat flavors like ginger, chili pepper, and soy sauce. The ginger ones were frosted in a thick coating of white icing and I was a little dubious at first, but they taste just like gingerbread cookies!

Another favorite of mine was the stand selling chocolate coated roasted soy beans. They also had little boxes of soy cookies where you could choose from pumpkin, purple sweet potato, spinach, and carrot flavors.




Perhaps best of all was the fresh mochi! If you haven’t heard of mochi before, it’s this heavenly thick gooey rice cake made out of a special type of pounded rice. Nowadays, you can easily buy it in any grocery store around Japan, but the traditional way is to put the freshly steamed rice into a huge wooden barrel and then pound it with a wooden mallet until it all forms together into a smooth, sticky rice cake. It’s such a physically intensive process that many men usually gather around and take turns pounding the mochi.

Even in Japan, it’s not everyday that you get to see mochi being prepared in the traditional style. Even rarer still is the opportunity to eat it fresh, within moments of being scooped out of the barrel.

They put large gobs of the mochi into bowls of hot soup with cooked radish, deep fried tofu, carrot, and onion and handed it out for free! Incredible 😀



18 thoughts on “Farmers’ Market Festival in Japan

    1. Yeah! When mochi is fresh it’s so incredibly soft! And then, putting in that hot soup makes it even more gooey. Totally different from the storebought stuff 😀

    1. Yeah, they were giving out free samples of pretty much everything being sold at the farmers’ market that day, so I got to try every flavour of the soy cookies and chocolate coated soy beans. Happy 😀

    1. Oh, you should definitely go! It’s absolutely my favorite place to travel. It’s very safe and almost everyone there will go out of their way to help a traveler.
      It helps to know the language, but if you know what to look for it’s not hard to find good food. Most traditional sweets are naturally vegan (mochi, daifuku, zenzai, and most omanju). If you go to a soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant, most dishes are vegan there as well. The other day I went to an udon restaurant and ordered a bowl of “kitsune udon”, which is thick wheat noodles with a huge piece of deep fried tofu and green onions. This is actually the most common dish, so it’s everywhere.
      You can even easily find vegan food at any sushi restaurant — just order the kappa maki (cucmber rolls) or inarizushi (rice wrapped in sheets of sweet fried tofu).
      Since traditional Japanese food rarely uses cheese or other dairy, as long as there’s no meat or fish in it, you’re pretty much safe!

  1. I absolutely love the pictures! I am dying to visit, especially after I just watched the first episode of I’ll Have What Phil’s Having on Netflix – it’s a travelogue following the guy who created Everybody Loves Raymond. I feel like my reactions would be like his… a kid in a candy store haha

    1. I totally recommend travelling to Japan! it goes without saying that it’s a massively different experience from India…it’s on completely opposite ends of the scale. In India, everything is louder and more chaotic. In Japan, everything is quieter and more orderly. Compared to India, it can almost feel *too* comfortable haha
      Fantastic country though. It’s impossible not to love 😀

  2. Deep bow, Elle! This looks amazing. I love all things Japan and am hoping to bring my husband who has never been, for the first time at the end of the year. Once we have booked the tickets I may reach out and see if you recommend some places. Arrogate, xo

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