Mention Japanese gardens and people will think of Zen Buddhist rock gardens or the gardens of Kyoto that were influenced by China. But that's only a small part of what comprises gardening in Japan. The Japanese love gardening, and having a home garden is a thing of pride, work and love. On rural Shikoku Island, there are large tracts of land that are farmed, and countless family plots that are lovingly cared for. Shikoku in many ways offers the visitor a glimpse into Japan’s past, as well as a look into Japanese agriculture.
JA Green Ehime farmer’s market in Toon is a collective, which means that it's a place for local farmers to offer their goods for sale directly to consumers. The Fresh-ichi (fresh market) section sells fresh fruits, vegetables, honey, potatoes and countless other produce that's grown or harvested locally. Local fish and squid is sold as well in preserved form. Not only is the produce local, it's fresh and reasonably priced.
The potatoes in the pictures are from Yushi village. Yushi is located outside of Uwajima, near the southern tip of Shikoku Island. The potatoes from Yushi are considered to be the best potatoes in all of Japan.
There are gardens everywhere on Shikoku. There are large private gardens and fields that are commercially farmed. Local farmers sell their produce commercially and the smaller family plots sell through collectives like JA Green Ehime.
The farmer's market is not only there to sell consumable goods. It's also a place for gardeners to get supplies, as well as plants and flowers that they can grow. The people of Shikoku love their flower gardens. Just walking around outside of Matsuyama City, you're greeted by plots of vibrant flowers cascading in bloom in the spring.
A visit to a Japanese farmer's market is a great opportunity to shop for fresh food and produce, or just to take a walk around. The characteristic Japanese farm tools are interesting to look at, and make practical souvenirs for the horticultural-minded. The farmer's market changes with the seasons, and you never know what you'll see the next time you visit.
While visiting the garden center, we came across this ice cream vendor. The bus looks exactly like a miniature VW bus, but only on closer inspection do you realize that it's a Japanese mini bus made to look like a VW bus. The workmanship is outstanding. The only thing on the vehicle that's authentic Volkswagon is the VW symbol on the front of the bus. The ice cream vendor was quite happy to have pictures taken of her bus, and the homemade ice cream was delicious.