As a recent new Tokyo resident, I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid home sickness by having lots of friends travel here for short trips (thank you budget Jetstar flights). What I’ve noticed though is that many will just do Tokyo for a short week trip before leaving, missing out on everything outside of Tokyo – traditional culture, natural beauty and rich history. Sure, there’s a lot of crazy, whacky stuff you can see in Tokyo, but when in the big city it’s easy to forget that it’s completely different outside of Tokyo. Tabica is a travel company that aims to bridge that gap, by providing a countryside and nature-focused experience for those who are in Tokyo through day trips just a few hours from the city.
Today I was fortunate enough to be invited on one of their countryside projects with a visit to a farm in Saitama, a prefecture just 2 hours outside of central Tokyo. It started with meeting my friendly host at Harajuku before hopping on the train straight to the farm. Once there, we met the rest of our group and were introduced to the farm assistants who explained that today we’d be collecting fresh eggs, harvesting vegetables, and making our own rendition of a classic Japanese dish ‘Tamago Kake Gohan’ (egg mixed with rice; 卵かけごはん).
The 4 types of eggs at the farm
After a brief introduction to the 4 different types of eggs we might encounter, it was straight to the chicken pens! Putting your hand under a chicken to collect some eggs can be quite terrifying at first, but thankfully the chickens were super friendly without any violent pecking.
OH HI CHICKEN!
All the eggs we collected
Next we headed out to the fields to harvest a range of fresh produce including potatoes (brown and purple) and tomatoes. These would form some of the side dishes to complement our egg rice today.
We then were shown how to cook rice the old traditional way, with a large pot filled with rice and water, sitting over a fire. This would take a while to cook, so in the meantime we went to play with the goats in the nearby paddock. It was so cute seeing the mother and baby goat together, and the kids in our tour absolutely loved walking them back to our group area.
Cooking rice the manual way
Taking the goats for a walk!
Whilst the rice was still cooking away, our farm hosts were busy roasting potatoes, slicing up the tomatoes and preparing a cold soup. We helped a bit with prep and wash, but the bulk was done by our hosts which we were super grateful for.
Freshly roasted potatoes
And not before long, it was time to eat! ‘Tamago Kake Gohan’ is a very super simple dish consisting of a hot bowl of rice with a raw egg cracked on top. Soy sauce is then typically added along with some simple condiments like bonito flakes or seasoning. Mix well and then eat! Eating raw egg is not feared here in Asia, and my fellow Japanese tour mates were surprised when I mentioned that it’s rarely consumed raw in the Western world. Despite this, the dish was super delicious – the fluffy rice heated up the egg nicely and the soy sauce mixed in with the egg yolk and white tasted quite nice. Of course I’d prefer some meat and veggies too, but for a simple traditional dish, it’s much tastier than the effort required.
To top it off, our host then sliced up a fresh watermelon for us, a lovely refreshing ending to a hot summer’s day.
If you’re looking for a countryside experience or an escape from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle, taking part in a daytrip is a great activity. Today’s tour ended around 2pm, leaving the rest of the day free to enjoy other activities. Checking out farm life is a pretty cool experience, and something I never thought I’d do while in Tokyo.
Excuse Me Waiter attended this tour as a guest of Tabica