all photos by Akihiro Yoshida
Exploring the Japanese countryside, and even suburban areas of major cities, you might come across produce stands stocked with fruits, vegetables and fresh-cut flowers. With a price list and just a small box to drop money, these stands are literally built on trust and are a symbol of tight-knit community. And as Japan’s distribution systems become more and more advanced, these stands, known as mujin hanbaijo, are being increasingly seen as a solution to cutting food loss, as well as means of delivering fresh and local produce to the community.
The steep slope of the roof keeps snow and fallen leaves from accumulating and in the summer months serves as a sort of chimney, allowing the heat inside to be vented out
“Japan’s distribution system today does not distribute agricultural produce that fail to meet shipping standards, like size or shape,” says Tokyo-based design agency Nendo. This results in large amounts of food loss all around the country. But now, a confluence of ideas around sustainability, fresh foods and local produce have created a renewed interest in roadside vegetable stands, “a mechanism to promote distribution of cheap, fresh produce by supporting direct sales from farmer to consumer, to prevent food loss and revitalize local economies”
Created by Nendo and unveiled this month, “petite market” is a stylish, customizable and affordable produce stand that can be assembled and disassembled in under 10 minutes. It has adjustable legs and can stabilize in almost any environment. And no detail was overlooked: even the coinbox has a QR code so farmers can enable digital payments.
The optional outdoor LED strip lighting can be installed under the shelves to illuminate products during winter with shorter daytime hours.
After hours, the standing chalkboard sign becomes a door, literally closing up shop.