The Ike-Sun Park Farmers Market is a delicious oasis that appears every Saturday and Sunday near Higashi-Ikebukuro year-round. Nearly 20 vendors serve up everything from fresh organic produce to rice and chiffon cake as well as assorted pickles, freshly-made sandwiches, and artisan coffee. It is a true treasure trove of foodie delights.
According to Keisuke Watanabe, a member of the local Business Support Office, the market was founded in December 2020 to bring United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life in the area. He estimates the market attracts roughly 1,000 people each weekend despite the pandemic shutdowns. At ten tents long and four tens wide the market is an impromptu covered shopping street where guests and vendors can gather rain or shine.
Kiyoshi Tonegawa of PiyoPiyo Farm in Saitama Prefecture is one of several organic farmers present each weekend. He began farming eleven years ago while feeling dissatisfied with his life as an academic. He started working on his father’s hobby farm while he figured things out and discovered his calling. Tonegawa comes bearing the bounty of each season such as zucchini and patty pan squash in early summer and kale, squash, and hearty greens as temperatures cool. Fresh and dried herbs dot the table here and there, and his unique blend of flowers and herbs for tea is nearly irresistible.
Next door to Tonegawa’s stall another organic farmer, Satoru Kawase, makes the trip into the city from Saitama Prefecture once a month. Jars of bright orange carrot juice form a vivid backdrop for his colorful array of small salad radishes, purple kohlrabi, and lush-leaved daikon. Farming for just five years, he shares recipes and chats with the steady stream of customers snapping up his vegetables as quickly as he lays them out.
Fresh bread, rolls, and other treats can also be found, and not least among these is the chiffon cake from Little Square Café. “I used to hate chiffon cake,” confides owner and baker, Somin Kim, “until I tried one made on the stovetop instead of the oven.” According to Kim, the method using a covered baking pan on the stove produces a moister and better-flavored cake. Each week, she brings along six flavors: chocolate, vanilla, Earl Grey, pumpkin, café au lait, and the most popular, yomogi (mugwort). “It’s my grandmother’s favorite,” Kim smiles. “It’s perfect.”
Coffee, sandwiches, pickles, rice, miso, and other foods also abound. Shoppers will find a delightful selection of unrelated, but mutually beneficial, food carts nearby for further exploration. In addition, Eat Good Place, a restaurant in the park serving meals made from fresh, organic ingredients is only steps away.
Ike-Sun Park Farmers Market
- 7-minute walk from Higashi-Ikebukuro Station or 11-minute walk from Ootsuka Station
- Saturday and Sunday
- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.