One Kamakura warehouse hides a quaint and richly authentic shopping experience within a rather dark and unsuspecting building. Fully stocked with freshest seasonal Japanese fruits, vegetables and flowers – not to mention vast generations of unique and passionate farmers – Kamakura Farmers Market provides a feast for all the senses. Whether a regular carrot, or Japan’s sweeter, more outrageous purple variety, Kamakura Farmers Market will have something for you.
Kamakura Farmers Market (or Kamakura-shi Nyogyou Rensokubaijo, aka RENBAI) runs 7 days a week, nearly all year round (it’s closed for the new year holiday). And, being just 10 minutes walk from the station, it is well worth a peek if you are nearby. While there are no official hours, the market generally operates from 8:00 until sunset. If you are after a wider range of vendors and produce, you must visit on a weekend.
Since produce at Kamakura Farmers Market comes directly from Japanese soil, perhaps even the very same morning you visit, it’s always the season’s freshest. And, if you are anything like me, you are eagerly awaiting the exciting reveal of this years fresh herbs. At only ¥100 each, they are the same price – if not cheaper – than any dried, processed and bottled variety found at the supermarket. Quite simply, you are getting the freshest food beyond reasonable prices, while also supporting the local Kamakura farming community. Easy on the pocket while more flavourful on the tongue, you would be mad not to make the switch.
Eating freshly-grown, in-season fruit and vegetables is actually much better for your health as well. Not only does this food taste far more rich and flavourful, but it also likely contains more vitamins and minerals than kinds found at supermarkets. This is quite simply because the produce is allowed to develop more naturally, both flavour and natural vitamins, than perhaps your supermarket varieties. Unlike a place Kamakura Farmers Market, such supermarkets are often rushed for as much fruit production as possible within the shortest amount of time. Considering how watery some supermarket varieties are, not to mention the amount of wax I find on my apples, it really does seem like your local farmers market is the way to go. Not only are you doing good for your stomach, but you also help feed your local farming culture. It may even inspire you to get growing yourself.
Being able to peruse authentic Japanese fruits and vegetables that you may never have seen before, and talking with farmers who grew them, is really exciting. During every visit, you are almost guaranteed to find something new and interesting. And, with a wealth of knowledgeable, chatty, passionate farmers surrounding you, it can also be a very educational experience (if your Japanese is up to scratch). But be warned, farmers tend to rotate. So, if you find a likable local farmer, be sure to ask them when they will be back.
Local, seasonal produce is not only fresher and more flavourful, but it is also a way to enrich the environment and support the farmers who bring so much passion and knowledge to the art of growing. It warms my heart knowing that local Kamakura vendors are actually using produce bought at this very market, spreading the message of clean, fresh produce from local sources.
Kamakura Farmers Market really does have something for everyone. Whether you are an adventurous and inquisitive foodie that wants to find something new; interested in exploring Japanese foods’ rich seasonal diversity; or if you just want to pick up some fresh herbs, Kamakura’s market is an inspiring and worthwhile stop. And, with abundant and unique bakeries, cheese along with confectionery shops nearby, there really are more than a few reasons why Kamakura Farmers Market is an eye-opening destination to explore. My only wish is that I lived closer to it all.