Antique vs. Flea – Markets in Tokyo

Oedo Antique Market & Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market

Every weekend, eager dealers flood markets across Tokyo with the finest selection of bits and bobs, as well as treasures and troves! Whether it was stowed on the shelf for donkey’s or buried in the depths of grandma’s closet, it’s been dusted off and labelled up for sale! Something is bound to catch your eye or raise a brow at one of the at least 20 markets held in Tokyo.

I lived in Tokyo for 2 years and never attended a market, so visiting a couple was a whole new experience for me! I decided to try out one antique and one flea, both with reputations for being fairly popular and decent in size, to see what weird knickknacks were up for grabs.

Oedo Antique Market

This market is Japan’s largest outdoor antique market, with around 250 dealers setting up shop every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. It opens from 9am to 4pm, but it’s best to get there before 2pm as things start packing down early.

Unfortunately, as it’s outdoor, the market closes during the rain, so be sure to pay a visit on a dry day.

What’s on offer

Oedo Antique Market flocks an eclectic mix of vintage gems and quirky tat, some of which are questionably of Japanese origin, but most are worth a ponder.

The item probably of most interest to foreign visitors is the vintage kimonos, which you can strut away in for as little as 1000 yen (about £7). There are a fair few stores selling these, as well as geta (Japanese sandals), fans and hairpins, if you’re out to snag a cost-wise traditional souvenir.

There’s also a wide assortment of antique glassware and tableware, with enough cups and saucers to host a tea party for the whole market. You’ll find ornamental bald Japanese men and cats (not bald); figurine toys of sharp-toothed monsters, a sight more terrifying than Godzilla; along with rustic maps and tatty books, which you may not be able to read, but might make you feel cultured if you display them at home!

Price

There’s really no average price bracket here; everything has its own value. You can bag a bargain or empty your bank account. If you’ve got cash to splash, then you can pick up an antique work of art for as much as 800,000 yen (almost £6000)!

English help available?

Nope. Some of the vendors might know a little English, but you may need to use your imagination to decipher the items’ origins.

Time recommended

I think you can spend about an hour checking things out.

Atmosphere

It’s all set-up quite nicely with items laid out on tables in neat rows, which make it easy to browse as you stroll from aisle to aisle. It was a little busy when I went, so be prepared to squeeze at times.

Where?

The market is held at the Tokyo International Forum, just a minute walk from the JR Yurakucho Station. You’ll easily spot it outside Shake Shack as you walk across.

Should you go?

I think it’s worth a look! If you’re not in a mad-rush to see every temple and sample all the sushi, I’d stop by for a browse if collecting random trinkets is your thing or you just want to nosey at some Japanese bits of times past.

Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market

This indoor-outdoor market is held every Sunday, rain or shine, with around 150 dealers seemingly emptying their homes of odds and ends each week. The market opens from 10am to 3pm, but again, it’s better not to leave your visit to the last minute.

The set-up is a little less orderly, with some stall’s stock appearing to have been unloaded by a tip-truck and left in the chaotic mound in which it landed. But still, beauty and order aside, if you’re willing to rummage, then you could well be in with a chance of uncovering a jewel amongst the junk!

What’s on offer

Shinagawa’s market may not excite visitors quite as the Oedo Market, simply because it mostly sells functional items for everyday life. There are a couple of timely pieces, but it’s not an antique market, you know.

A large quantity of the stuff for sale is clothing, whether on rails or in piles! Then, there’s a lot of jewellery, sunglasses, shoes and bags to accessorize.

There’s also perfumes, books, clocks, toys, tableware, kitchen utensils, etc.

Price

Of course, the best part; super cheap! Some rails of clothes are labelled at just 100 yen (70p) per item. Most items are marked up at just a few hundred yen and it’d be a struggle to leave having spent more than a few thousand. But whether you have the perseverance to discover something worth parting ways with your yennies for is another matter.

Atmosphere

It was pretty quiet when I went. It doesn’t strike me that it ever gets too busy. Another bonus!

English help available?

Nah.

Time Recommended

I doubt you’d need as much as an hour.

Where?

At Shinagawa Intercity business centre. It’s about a minute walk from JR Shinagawa Station. Be sure to exit from the Konan exit and then walk into the first entrance you see of the centre. Continue straight through the building until you stumble across the market.

Should you go?

Hmmm it’s probably not worth your time to be honest. Most things are just kind of regular that you could see anywhere in the world, and the clothes aren’t particularly stylish or quirky. I found it interesting enough, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit. If you’re in Shinagawa, you might wanna drop by if you just splattered ramen down your shirt at lunch and need a cheap fix ASAP!

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