9 Markets in Tokyo You Should Visit
With so many eye-popping goods for sale at every corner, it’s easy to get lost in a mass of glitzy shopping centres and flashy stores in Tokyo – but the city also has an array of markets that are well worth checking out.
Leading up to Sensoji Temple lies, perhaps surprisingly, one of the oldest shopping centres in Japan, Nakamise Shopping Street. From 1688 to 1735, special permission was granted for locals to open shops in the surroundings of the temple in service to its visitors. Today, Nakamise Shopping Street has around 90 shops that sell various Japanese souvenirs, some dating as far back as the Edo era. Look out for some good bargains on clothes and shoes, too. It’s also a great place to buy traditional snacks and dishes, particularly those that are popular during festivals.
Gwen Stefani made Harajuku a household name, but the birthplace of this playful fashion centres on a shopping street in the heart of the neighbourhood. Takeshita-dori (Takeshita Street) runs past Harajuku Station and through Meiji-dori, and is a crossroads for street-style culture. Along the pedestrian-only road, shops specialise in unique clothing, such as punk fashion or costumes. Though the market may be more crowded on the weekends, it is still well worth visiting for the people watching alone.
Atmosphere:Loud, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity
Dating back some 430 years, Boro-Ichi Street Market is the best place in Tokyo to shop for antique kimonos, toys and clocks, as well as a variety of other items. In its early beginnings in the 1570s, Boro-Ichi was established as a ‘free market’ where taxes were removed to boost the economy. Now it has grown into a biannual two-day event set on the 15 and 16 December and January each year, attracting over 700 sellers. The history of the market is so integral to Tokyo that it has been deemed an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset.
Ameya-Yokochō, which is also referred to as Ameyoko, translates as ‘Candy Sellers’ Alley’. The vibrant, colourful market is located in the Ueno area of Tokyo, but its origins are rather different to its standing today. Ameyoko Market started out as a black market that was known for selling sweet potatoes and sugar after World War II. Today, almost anything can be purchased at Ameyoko, and visitors will find bargains on clothes, shoes, fish, meat, Anime DVDs and more. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars around for a mid-shopping pick-me-up.
Located in the basement of Tokyu Toyoko Department Store, Tokyu Food Show is a beehive of stalls selling sweets, pastries, deli goods, wines and a variety of foodstuffs from all over the world. The self-proclaimed ‘theatre of food’ is one of the largest markets in Tokyo, with an impressive variety of products. Many of the stalls are associated with established restaurants, and while the majority cater for takeout only, a few provide small counters where you can eat on the spot.
On the fourth Sunday of each month, the people of Tokyo, as well as visitors from all over the world, flock to see the goods available at Nogi Shrine market. Held on the sandō road of Nogizaka’s Nogi Shrine, more than 40 shops are set up, selling furniture, second-hand clothes, cooking utensils and other antiques. There are also some food stalls selling snacks and other delectable treats.
Omotesando in Harajuku is peppered with high-end stores that target fashionable urbanites. The broad, tree-lined avenue, located south of Takeshita-dōri, is known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysées. Although it isn’t a typical market, this area of Tokyo is a great place to go shopping. Many of the high-end international stores here sprung up after the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and a wealthy clientele can be seen browsing the famous cafés, boutiques and restaurants.