Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Fun Activities at Yōkina Kasan no Mise Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s markets can be found everywhere in the world, with some of them being the size of a football stadium. The ones that you have been to may have a range of fresh products, but probably none of them offers cultural activities like Yōkina Kasan no Mise (陽気な母さんの店) in Ōdate city (大館市)!

Farmers-Market-Odate-Akita-Japan
© Akita Tourism Federation

Yōkina Kasan no Mise isn’t a big farmer’s market, but their fruits and vegetables are surely all freshly harvested from the field! This farmer’s market is run by local mums who are not only good at farming but cooking as well!

In the small restaurant right by the corner of the market, you can treat yourself to some deliciously made udon or soba noodle soup (*’▽’).

A List of Contents

Yōkina Kasan no Mise Farmer’s Market’s Origin

Originally, this spot was established with the intent for the local female farmers to gather and interact with each other. It was soon developed to be a popular local farmer’s market with an assortment of freshly picked and/or processed fruits and vegetables.

For tourists, there are also bento boxes, grilled rice balls (our favorite), and other side dishes that you can just quickly grab and go (=゚ω゚)ノ. The prices are really friendly and most importantly, all very tasty!

While the bento boxes probably wouldn’t be the best choice for vegetarians, they do have vegetarian grilled rice balls (yaki-onigiri) and side dishes. But if you want to be absolutely sure, refer to our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarian Article for some useful phrases (^_-)-☆.

Cultural Activities – Kiritanpo Making

Kiritanpo is an Akita local dish that is made from mashed rice. The mashed rice is then made to form into cylinders around cedar skewers before it gets roasted over an open hearth. It is usually consumed as one of the hot pot’s ingredients or grilled with sweet miso paste.

With 2,500 yen (excluding tax) and 2 hours of your time, you will get to make your own Kiritanpo, a stick of Kiritanpo with sweet miso paste, Kiritanpo hot pot, and a few local side dishes!

Cultural Activities – Soba Noodle Making

The soba noodle-making experience starts with a bowl of buckwheat flour. The whole idea of noodle-making is easy. Mix the flour with water and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth, round ball.

However, if you add too little water, the dough will simply crumble. Add too much water; then your dough becomes a sticky mess. Then you will need to make your ball of dough into a flat sheet, even thinner than the thin and crispy pizza base. Yes, it can be pretty challenging!

Nevertheless, whether your soba noodle turns out to be a success or not, it is all about the experience. With the skills you learn at Yōkina Kasan no Mise Farmer’s Market, when you feel like some freshly made Japanese soba noodles again, you can always make some yourself (albeit you might need a few more practices to master the delicious noodle-making skills).

With 2,000 yen (excluding tax) and 2 hours of your time, you get to make your bowl of soba noodles. After you finish slicing the dough sheet into noodles, leave the cooking to the mums (staff). They will quickly serve you a nice bowl of hot/cold noodles (depending on the season) with a piece of mixed vegetable tempura as a side dish!

Fruit Picking

Depending on which season you visit the farmer’s market, you might be able to do some fruit picking from the field (such as apples or pears).

It is a lot cheaper to do fruit picking there. With 500 yen and 30 minutes of your time, you bring home two pieces of fruit (if you want to pick more, please check with them about the pricing)!

Staying Overnight at a Farmer’s House

© 陽気な母さんの店

For those who are after a real cultural experience, staying at one of the farmer’s houses is highly recommended!

With 7,500 yen (tax excluded), you get free pick-up and drop-off services from the owner of the farmhouse. Your stay at the farmhouse and your two days schedule may look like this (you can discuss with your host to customize your schedule):

  • 3:30 pm: being picked up by the owner from the closest station
  • 4 pm: arriving at the farmhouse
  • 4:30 pm: relaxing at a local onsen facility
  • 6 pm: Kiritanpo-making experience (the Kiritanpo you make will become part of your dinner) + chatting with the owner of the house (if you know a bit of Japanese)
  • 10 pm: bedtime

The second-day schedule:

  • 7 am: Akita-style radio calisthenics and breakfast
  • 9 am: farmer experiences, local sightseeing…etc
  • 10 am: being dropped off by the owner at the closest station

When you book your stay at the farmer’s market (reservation required at least one week in advance), please let them know the below, and they will let you know the pricing.

  • The dates and length of your stay
  • The number of people staying
  • Your intended arrival and departure time
  • Any experiences/activities that you want to do during your stay
  • Any local spots that you want to visit

If you have time, we recommend you leave some time to stroll around the neighborhood with your host (free of charge) to fully enjoy Akita’s countryside (^_-)-☆.

Tip: If you book your stay with the farmer’s market, you can book any available activities, even if you are just by yourself!

Making a Reservation to Participate in Activities and Staying at a Farmer’s House

Tip: If you have special dietary requirements like us (vegetarian, vegan…etc), please include this when you book for Kiritanpo and Soba making activities, as they will ultimately be cooking the Kiritanpo/soba that you made. The shop will let you know if they can accommodate your requests on the day of your visit. You can also email them in advance with your requirement if you plan to dine in their restaurant.

Don’t worry if you can’t speak Japanese. You can still participate in all the fun activities! They do have steps written in English that you can refer to. Also, body language helps as well (^_-)-☆. If you still have trouble communicating at the farmer’s market, let us know HERE, and we will get back to you.

Important: Cancellation of any activities planned at the farmers market will incur a 30% cancellation fee on the total charges if you cancel the day before. It will be 100% of the total charges if you don’t cancel or show up on the day.

Yōkina Kasan no Mise Farmer’s Market’s Business Hours and Accesso Information

  • The market is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
  • From JR Odate Station (大館駅前), take Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that is bound for Hanawa (花輪) and get off at Magata (曲田). The trip should take you around 40 minutes
    • As the number of services is limited, refer to the timetable on the official website HERE to plan. Please match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable to read

Exploring Other Parts of Ōdate City

Odate–Kosaka-Railway-Railbike-Odate-Akita-Japan
© Akita Tourism Federation

Anyone who has been to or even heard of Shibuya Station (渋谷駅) knows about the Hachikō statue there. Hachikō wasn’t just another Akita dog. Due to his fierce loyalty to his first owner, he gained the deepest respect from the community (his story is really touching) that even a statue of him was made and then placed in front of the station (where he used to wait for his deceased owner’s return).

Ōdate City (大館市) is where Hachikō came from. Although most of his life was spent in Tokyo, you can find Hachikō’s statues all over the city! Ōdate City isn’t just about Hachikō and Akita dogs, of course! Read on and find out where to go and what to do in Hachikō’s hometown (^_-)-☆.

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