By Scott Brause
Perhaps you have passed through Kashiwa Station on the way to or from Tokyo and Narita Airport. When you take a break from your journey, you will see a dense, urban area with many choices for shopping and dining. The city looks like an extension of the Tokyo sprawl, but just a short distance from the center are farm fields and quiet country roads. A short walk from Kashiwa Station’s south exit is Daichi, an antenna shop that brings local produce from this charming rural area close to this urban hub.
A few decades ago, antenna shops sprang up in Tokyo as an effort of prefectural governments to bring goods from other parts of Japan to the metropolitan area. The antenna shops attract Tokyo people to visit other parts of Japan and provide a wider market for industries all over Japan. Daichi, meaning wide earth, is an antenna shop for a region just outside Tokyo. This antenna shop is an effort of the Tokatsu region Japan Agriculture collective to promote foods and products from Higashi Katsushika, abbreviated to Tokatsu. The region is just on the other side of the Edo River from Tokyo and stretches from Funabashi City at Tokyo Bay to Noda City in the north of Chiba Prefecture. The cities and towns themselves are agglomerations of former towns and villages that still have a thriving agricultural industry. Daichi showcases vegetables, fruits, rice, dairy products, and processed foods that are the pride of Kashiwa City and its neighbors. Some famous local products available at Daichi are peanuts and peanut treats, packaged foods such as curry from a popular Indian curry restaurant in Kashiwa City, and fresh vegetables.
A mouth-watering treat at Daichi is the gelato made with milk from Noda City dairies and fruits and vegetables from Kashiwa City farms. Besides perennial favorites such as strawberry, green tea, and chocolate, Daichi also serves hojicha tea, kabocha pumpkin, and komatsuna ice cream. Komatsuna, a vegetable that you might more commonly find simmered with soy sauce, makes a sweet and grassy flavor for gelato. The ingredients in the smoothies, sandwiches, and soup on the menu change with seasonal availability.
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You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too.