While Tokyo simply doesn’t have the same kind of night markets or street markets common to other parts of Asia—don’t panic—the city does have markets that are distinctly its own. Traditional yokocho alleyways lined with cheap stalls and eateries, hipster farmers markets selling all things artisanal, souvenir-laden tourist traps, these markets come in many forms. Some are well-known, some not so, but all are definitely worth a look. Below, find an introduction to seven of our favorite Tokyo markets.
For some further reading, check out our guide to Tokyo’s premier flea markets as well.
You’ll find Ameya-Yokocho between Ueno and Okachimachi stations, running parallel with the tracks of the Yamanote Line. It’s an old and always busy street market, once famous for selling candy, later as a den for the post-war black market. Today, the market is good for cheap clothes and accessories, fresh fish and vegetables, electronics, comic books and much more, all sold from the street-side stalls and small stores. There’s also a number of great izakaya dotted around the market, all very authentic and generally pretty cheap. It’s frantic and exciting, a world away from the calm of nearby Ueno Park, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Getting there: Two minutes from Ueno Station.
Nakamise Market, or the Nakamise Shopping Street, is the narrow stretch between the outer and inner gates of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. As far as souvenir markets go, it’s up there with the best of them, with over 90 stalls and a history dating back to the 17th century.
Shopping at Nakamise Market isn’t without its difficulties, however. You’re going to need patience; this place is choked with enthusiastic tourists almost constantly, meaning even catching a glimpse of what’s on offer at the stalls that line the way is somewhat of a challenge. Surmount the throng and you’ll be rewarded with a great selection of traditional souvenirs, from replica samurai swords and kimonos to delicate confectionery and wooden toys. As always with these type of spots, there’s a fair amount of junk to sift through, but shop around and you’re sure to find that perfect memento.
Getting there: Two-minute walk from Asakusa Station.
Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane)
Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho, widely known as Memory Lane or—less appetizingly—Piss Alley, is located right next to Shinjuku Station on the west side. It’s not a market in the traditional sense, but it definitely feels like one, with its small stores, restaurants and izakaya forming a warren that comes alive at night.
Getting there: Shinjuku Station West Exit
Market of the Sun
Held on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month at Tsukishima Second Children’s Park, the grandly named Market of the Sun is Tokyo’s largest regularly held farmers market. Featuring close to 100 stalls and food vendors, it’s the place to pick up all kinds of food you won’t find in your local convenience store. Unsurprisingly, prices are pretty high, but we’re all allowed to treat ourselves every now and then.
Getting there: Take exit 4a or 4b from Kachidoki Station.
You’ve probably heard of Takeshita Street Harajuku‘s main strip and the spiritual home of all things kawaii. Again, this isn’t a market in the strictest sense of the word, but neither is it your average “main street”—the stores here spill out onto the road and smiling sales reps try to coax you inside, music blares from unseen speakers and the thick crowd fizzes with excitement.
The street is famous for its crepes and there’s a mammoth branch of Daiso (100 yen store), but the main draw is the clothes and accessories. Cheap knock-offs, t-shirts with indecipherable slogans, sunglasses by the dozen—rest assured that there’s plenty to browse.
Getting there: Just across the road from Harajuku Station.
United Nations University Farmers’ Market
The tiled plaza in front of Aoyama’s United Nations University plays host to one of Tokyo’s best attended farmers markets each and every weekend. Over 70 stalls and food trucks set up shop, offering up delights such as freshly made falafel wraps, locally produced honey, organic fruit and vegetables, artisan jams and much, much more. The vibe is always relaxed and friendly but given the salubrious setting it’ll be no surprise to hear that prices are hardly budget-friendly. Two words that may cheer you up though: free samples.
Getting there: 5-10 minute walk from either Omotesando or Shibuya Station.
Tsukiji Fish Market
So obvious we almost forgot about it—good old Tsukiji Fish Market. Though one of Tokyo’s top tourist attractions, Tsukiji is nevertheless the real deal—it is Japan’s largest working fish market and internationally renowned for the range and quality of its fish. The inner market is where you’ll find the bulk of the sellers and much of the real excitement, though the outer market with its sushi joints and lively stalls is also well worth a wander. Before you get there, be sure to have a read of our top tips.
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There are certain times in the year that can make your visit to Tokyo less than idea.