I walk down to the Michi No Eki in Kashimo probably once a week to buy fruit and vegetables. However once the weekend begins, this place is packed. Michi No Eki Kashimo has done something many other Michi No Eki have yet to achieve. They are fully social media savvy, product diverse and an integral member of our community.
Mr. Ando, the manager, always greets with a great big smile and a joke. “Got any apples in?” I ask and he shows the new batch fresh in from Nagano. As an active user of Twitter, you can find what is new at the store right away.
As I walk around looking at the vegetables I see the name of the producer, Tanaka-san, Hey! My next door neighbor! Miyamoto-san; Hey! the guitarist in my band! I know what I am eating and where it comes from. But there is more to Michi no Eki than fruits and vegetables. There are pickled items, candies, desserts, snack foods and locally produced pottery, wood crafts, toys and artist products. Almost every locally produced product has an original label designed by Homma Kiyoco, a local illustrator who has become quite popular in the Chubu region.
I tend to gravitate to the back where they sell Mont Bell outdoor wear and Takamine guitars. If there are not a ton of people around, it is okay to pick up one of the Takamine guitars and start playing. Takamine guitars are from a nearby district called Sakashita but are sold world wide. One of the more famous users is Jon Bon Jovi. Touch the guitar, touch Jon Bon Jovi!
Of course if you are in Kashimo, you have to have Kashimo Tomatos. These are some of the sweetest, lushest, and delicious tomatos I have ever tasted. At the Michi No Eki, they have Kashimo tomato sauce, Kashimo tomato ketchup, Kashimo tomato curry, Tomato Jam and Kashimo tomato soft serve ice cream. You might be pleasantly surprised with how sweet a tomato Soft serve ice cream is. If hesitant, try a vanilla-tomato twist.
Most Michi No Eki promote local produce and products but Kashimo’s Michi No Eki goes beyond this. They have an online store selling products all over the country. They are also a tourism office and event promoter. If something is happening in Kashimo, you hear about it first at the Michi No Eki. Mr. Ando has his finger on the pulse of the art, business, educational and agricultural community. If you are looking for something special, he will set it up and make it happen.
If you are hiking the mountains, walking around, fishing or just playing in the river in Kashimo, the Michi No Eki Kashimo is where to stop for gifts, crafts and a good bite to eat.
About the Michi No Eki System
The Michi No Eki system allows local communities to promote their local products all over the country in an exchange. Michi No Eki Guide books are available for purchase and help support local farmers, artists and culture around Japan.