Farmers Market @UNU
Farmers gather from throughout Japan in what might seem like incongruous surroundings: Tokyo’s upscale Aoyama district, known for its concentration of high-end fashion boutiques. Here the farmers sell organically and naturally grown produce as well as foods made with such ingredients — everything from tea to bread and sweets.
Among the remarkable attributes of this market are the consistency and frequency with which it has been held — every Saturday and Sunday since its inception in 2008 with nary a break, a rare feat for a market of this kind in Tokyo — and the high number of participating vendors, totaling about 95. With many appearing regularly, they enjoy friendly interactions with each other and with their customers. Another feature of the market is the frequency of special events showcasing products like sake and coffee, often held at the same time.
Farmers Market @UNU: United Nations University Plaza, Jingumae 5-53-70, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001; weekends 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; farmersmarkets.jp (Japanese only)
Located in a neighborhood that is home to many hotels and embassies, Hills Marche enjoys the patronage of numerous visitors from abroad. On regular display are fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers harvested early on the morning of market day by Kanto-area farmers, as well as such products as wine and honey. Occasionally, homemade pies and other baked goods are brought in by non-Japanese vendors.
Hills Marche actively supports the reconstruction of disaster-affected parts of Japan, and people from those areas come here to sell their wares. On the second Saturday of the month, the Yofukupost nonprofit network sets up a receiving station for donations of reusable clothing. Based on the weight of the clothes, an equivalent cash donation is made to a volunteer organization helping to rebuild the tsunami-devastated Nagahora settlement in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.
Adding to the elegant ambience of this market are the classical music concerts that take place from time to time.
Hills Marche: Ark Hills, Ark Karajan Place, Akasaka 1-12-32, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052; every Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; www.arkhills.com/en/hillsmarche
Taiyou no Marche
Taiyou no Marche professes to be Japan’s biggest urban-style market, averaging around 100 vendors each time, the majority of them farmers. About 10 of those booths are food trucks — no worries about finding lunch!
The venue is a children’s park surrounded by high-rise condominium buildings, so families with kids are a common sight. That’s particularly true at the monthly Kids’ Marche, an event designed to give children aged 3 to 12 the experience of selling at the market.
The Night Marche, an event for adults that offers food and drinks in the evening, was held for the first time in July and December 2018. With an atmosphere that’s an attractive departure from the daytime market, here’s hoping it becomes a regular feature.
Taiyou no Marche: Tsukishima Dai-ni Jido Koen, Kachidoki 1-9-8, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0054; second Saturday and Sunday of every month 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (April-September till 5 p.m.); timealive.jp (Japanese only)
Chikako Shimizu contributed the text for this article. Many activities and events have been canceled or postponed through the end of March due to concerns over COVID-19. Be sure to check with an event’s official website or with the venue itself before heading out.