Why You Should Wake Up Early On Sundays

What would make you wake up early on a Sunday morning? A breathtaking sunrise? Prospects of a lively brunch? Freshly farmed, wholesome fruits and veggies? A new season of your favorite Netflix series? 

Wait…back up.

Fruits and vegetables?

Farmer’s markets have comfortably made their way into mainstream consumer culture and though they come with their own stereotypes (hippies and hipsters, temperamental environmentalists, #farmtotable), they are important organizations that offer a chance for buyers like us to come face-to-face with the people who grow our food and have life-changing encounters through these meetings. 

Don’t believe me? All right, then come along for a virtual visit of a Sunday Farmer’s Market at the United Nations University in Tokyo!

We begin our adventure with a train ride, armed with eco-friendly fabric shopping bags and a non-disposable water bottle (hey, you have to get into the mood). It promises to be a hot, sunny day as you drift out of the B2 exit of Omotesando station and take a walk down the strangely calm main road. You consider pulling out your map to make sure you’re in the right place, but decide against it; it seems safer to just follow the loose groups of people all carrying cloth bags and heading with a sense of purpose towards the same destination. Sure enough, your hunch is right! You see the familiar white tents rising up to meet you and the time is 11 AM. You’ve made made good time…for a newcomer. 

Weaving your way through the crowds and enjoying the shade, you nod your admiration at crisp green salad leaves, shimmering yellow lemons, flushed apples and ripe avocados. Just as you consider buying a cold pressed juice from a nearby stand to quench your thirst, a smiling man comes forward to offer you a small cup of chilled Italian coffee. Grateful but surprised, you give it a taste and immediately find yourself more awake and refreshed than you ever imagined yourself being on a weekend morning.

“Take a look at our other coffees as well,” the man encourages you and you have to; the display is just too enticing. You ask if you can snap a quick photo. 

“Of course!” he says and stands to the side so you can get a clear view, “and put it up on Instagram too, please!”

This happens many more times through the course your visit and soon, you lose track of all the free samples you've been offered. 

You continue your journey and try everything from moringa juice and green tea to ginger lemon juice and fruit infused water. Maybe even give in and buy a package or two, to recreate the magic at home. Then, you decide that you’re hungry. You take a brief break from your wandering and go to explore the food trucks and stalls that have taken residence all around the grounds of the United Nations University building. There are salads, burritos, takoyaki, soba, kebabs and more and the options seem endless. 

After lunch, you return to look over other stalls. A woman offers you Japanese-style homemade peanut butter, a farmer insists that the shop’s juicy Ibaraki carrots are excellent for fried rice, another makes you try about ten different types of flavored honey and two eager young women give you a lecture on the health benefits of black garlic (along with free samples, of course)! There are smiles and warm welcomes wherever you go.

By now, the more famous items have started to sell out and you realize that you need to come earlier to claim your share of the popular favorites. Children chase each around the stalls and adults enjoy their leisure. You come across dog soap, lavender jelly and artistically arrayed pickles. 

Finally, it’s slowly time to make your way back home (hopefully with a full shopping bag). You reflect that the prices were on the higher side, as is usually the case with farmer’s market and organic goods. Even so, the numerous free samples and whimsical conversations you had with these hardworking, friendly people made for a truly rewarding experience. You have enough ingredients now to whip yourself a fresh, farm-style meal in the next day or two and relieve these memories once more. 

Walking back to the train station, you wonder what’s the huge deal about farmer’s markets, really. Why do people go completely gaga over them? What are they truly searching for? 

As you ponder these questions and keep on strolling, the family-run coffeehouses, organic grocery stores, and home-style bakeries turn back into franchise cafes, cloned supermarkets, and ultra-cheap drugstores.

You have your answer.

With luck, you too will be setting your alarm for Sunday mornings soon, as you start out on your own search for that extra taste of life. 

 

For more information about the UNU Farmer's Market, look here and here.

*all rights for the photos reserved by the author