If you are like me, then you probably get most or all of your gardening info from the many English language sites and blogs across the internet. Over the past year since I started gardening, I have found that many of the products commonly written about on English language gardening sites and communities can be very difficult to acquire locally here in Japan.
Many highly recommended products are simply not sold, while others require accurate translation of names and tedious searching. Luckily for you, I have managed to track down affordable options for several highly touted products. Without further ado:
1) Worm Castings
Although worm castings are highly coveted as a soil ammendment and for making actively aerated compost teas for gardeners in the west, they unfortunately don't seem to be used much in Japan. You can buy 6L bags of castings on Rakuten for 800yen plus shipping, but if you're looking for the best deal then shoot an email to a company called Maintec based out of Aichi prefecture; they quoted me 1950yen for 2x 10L bags or 3160yen for 4x 10L bags all inclusive. Now if you'd rather search for some yourself, look for ミミズのふん
Azomite is a popular rock dust amendment mined out of Utah. You can find Azomite on both Rakuten and Amazon Japan under the monicker "Azomite Garten" for varying prices. At the least, it'll probably set you back about 1680yen for a 1kg box. This is pretty steep compared to the prices you'd find in the US, but unless you have someone who can send some to you or are planning a trip anytime soon, this is probably your only option as Azomite has so far been the only rock dust I've been able to track down.
3) Epsom Salt
Also known as Magnesium Sulfate, a foliar spray of Epsom Salt is the go to method for giving your fruiting plants such as tomatoes and peppers a quick shot in the arm of Magnesium. Epsom Salt is often sold as "bath salt" and can be easily acquired either from Rakuten or Amazon as エプソムソルト. The best price I have found is 864yen (formerly 840yen) with free shipping if you write a review. You might be tempted to buy their 2kg bag, but keep in mind a little bit of this stuff goes a long way.
The most common way to add Calcium to your soil is to amend with garden lime or crushed egg shells, although both have their disadvantages. An arguable better option would be foliar feeding with a calcium spray; combine with the Epsom Salt above and you have your very own DIY CalMag! Liquid Calcium is available on Amazon Japan as カルシウムエキス. A 100cc bottle will set you back aproximately 1200yen after shipping, but you can also walk into any home/garder center and walk out with a 480cc spray bottle of カルシウムくだ菜 for just under 900yen.
5) Liquid Kelp Extract
Often used in combination with fish emulsion as a fertilizer and noted for being packed full of growth hormones, liquid kelp extract is mainstay in many organic gardeners tool boxes. A fermented version is available on Amazon Japan for 1580yen plus shipping.
6) Root Pouches
Much has been said about the benefits of using fabric containers for your container garden, and arguably the most written about brand is Root Pouch. Although Root Pouch branded products aren't available in Japan, an alternative exists! This seller on Rakuten carries many different sizes of fabric containers for your gardening needs. A good bet would be the 10x 30cm pouches for 1750yen plus shipping, which hold approximately 21.2L (5.5 gallons) of soil.
7) Hydro Products
Finally, while not exactly a product, if hydroponic growing is your thing then the mother load of products can be found at an online store called CoCo Shop. Most all of the big name manufactures such as Botanicare and General Hydroponics can be found here. However, keep in mind that since this is an import shop it will set you back a pretty yenney.
Gardening in Japan while armed with knowledge from abroad can often be a frustrating experience. Hopefully this post helps you bridge the gap between how people do things back home versus how they do it in Japan, and perhaps you can teach your fellow local gardeners a thing or two while picking up a few lessons yourself.
Have you found sources of other interesting products? Let us know in the comments!