Tokyo Flea Market Guide: 10 Bastions of Bargain-Hunting
There are many different ways to experience the culture of a foreign place, but nothing gives quite the same insight into local pop culture, history and everyday life as a flea market. Tokyo has plenty such gatherings (known as "furima" in Japanese) on offer, so whether it’s antiques, local fashion, interesting household items or even fresh produce you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it. Wherever you are, it’s fun to spend a few hours on a weekend hunting for anything from one-off pieces by local designers and vintage clothing, to hard-to-find books and–if you’re lucky–Edo period antiques. Here are ten Tokyo flea market mainstays.
10 Tokyo Flea Market Finds in the City
Akasaka Antique Market at Ark Hills
This Tokyo flea market may be the most upscale of them all, but that doesn’t exclude it from offering a range of fascinating finds for all budgets. Antique dealers co-habit with trendy designers so you’ll find everything from unique pieces of furniture to handmade earrings and artisanal candles. This very stylish market is open-air but undercover in the Ark Hills complex, meaning the show goes on even when it’s raining.
|Dates||Last Sunday of the month, from 11:00am|
|Access||1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Roppongi-Itchome Station, exit 3)|
Oedo Antique Market at Yoyogi Park and Tokyo International Forum
While the youthful secondhand-clothing-heavy Yoyogi Flea Market is intermittent these days, an antique market in the same park runs once every month–with a sister show at the Tokyo International Forum twice a month–and offers a different kind of fare. Its focus is antiques, helping people rediscover the value in old things. You’re likely to find all kinds of time-worn treasures, whether an ukiyo-e print, beautiful ceramics, or a vintage kimono. In its Tokyo International Forum edition, Oedo is the biggest outdoor antique market in Japan.
|Dates||Fourth Sunday of the month at Yoyogi Park;
first and third Sunday of the month at Tokyo International Forum
|Access||2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Harajuku Station);
5-1 Marunouchi 3-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Yurakucho Station)
Best Flea Market at Tokyo International Forum
Also held at the Tokyo International Forum, the Best Flea Market lives up to its name if it’s originality and range you’re seeking. Many of the vendors are independent creatives selling one-off pieces of clothing, accessories and handicrafts, so you’ll find items here you can’t find anywhere else. Thanks to the variety of sellers, of which there are about 200, it also accommodates the biggest and smallest of budgets and attracts people young and old.
|Dates||Second Sunday of the month|
|Access||3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Yurakucho Station)|
Shinagawa Intercity Flea Market
This enormous Tokyo flea market is held inside the Shinagawa Intercity complex and has a selection as broad as any you can imagine. Vintage clothes, electronics, jars of buttons, cooking utensils … It has the benefit of being indoors so it runs regardless of the weather outside, and the additional advantage of there being plenty of restaurant choices around the edge of the market area – so hungry deal hunters don’t have to go far to get refueled for round two. As a bonus, attendees can get a discounted rate at the on-site parking decks.
|Dates||Every Sunday, 10am – 4pm|
|Access||Shinagawa Intercity, Konan 2-15-2, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Shinagawa Station)|
Heiwajima Antique Fair at Ryutsu Center
If you are searching for a flea market in Tokyo that focuses on antiques, you are in luck. Heiwajima is the most antique of the antique fairs, not to mention the longest running of its kind in Japan – and it’s big. Several hundred dealers from all over the country gather to sell furniture, textiles, glass, lacquered objects, art prints, jewelry and pottery from eras past, much of it unique and beautiful. This is a great destination for serious antique hunters, but even if that’s not your thing, there are also sellers hawking regular flea market tat.
|Dates||Five times per year, for three days each time|
|Access||Tokyo Ryutsu Center Building 2F, Heiwajima 6-1-1, Ota-ku, Tokyo,
(Ryutsu Center Station on the Tokyo Monorail)
Oi Racecourse Flea Market (aka Tokyo City Flea Market)
With about 600 vendors, this Tokyo flea market is probably the biggest in the city and certainly the most regular, running every weekend without fail (unless it rains, since it’s outdoors). Many of the vendors here are professional sellers, offering everything from the smallest to the largest items you can carry home. With this many stalls it’s a solid destination for daily necessities, the latest fashions, rare collector’s items and even some antiques. And for extra convenience, food trucks supply sustenance for the hungry shopper.
|Dates||Every Saturday and Sunday, 9am – 3pm|
|Access||2-1-2 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, (Oi Keibajomae Station on the Tokyo Monorail)|
Yasukuni Shrine Flea Market
Holding markets at shrines and temples is common practice in Japan and the largest of these is the Yasukuni Shrine Flea Market. The Yasukuni space is still smaller than other Tokyo flea markets, which does limit the number of vendors and buyers but this can make it great for bargain hunting. On offer are items such as antiques, wooden dolls and secondhand kimono, and there are lots of pottery specialists. It’s open from early morning until sunset, and can be paired well with a visit to the famous (if controversial) Yasukuni war memorial.
|Dates||Two Saturdays each month|
|Access||2-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Kudanshita station)|
*** The Yasukini Shrine flea market will be held on October 8th, 2016. From November, the Yasukuni Shrine free market will be closed for the next 3 years.
Nogi Shrine Antique Flea Market
Being at a shrine, the Nogi Shrine Antique Flea Market is also small but exceedingly interesting. Originally a crafts fair that morphed into an antique market, the range is fairly broad and vendors offer good quality items such as secondhand clothing, antiques, furniture, ceramics and cooking utensils. The shrine is dedicated to Meiji-era General Nogi who, with his wife, took his own life on the day of the funeral of Emperor Meiji; the house where they died is still in good condition on the grounds.
|Dates||Fourth Sunday of the month|
|Access||8-11-27 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Nogizaka Station exit 1|
Japanese Flea Market Vocabulary
Many vendors are used to foreigners, even if they don’t speak English, but if you want to interact and get the best price (a little gentle haggling is fine, if done with a smile) it’s best to have a few phrases like the following on hand.
- English: How much [is this]?
- Japanese: [Kore wa] ikura desu ka? (you can simply say, "Ikura desu ka?" as well!)
- English: If I buy two/three/four is there a discount?
- Japanese: Futatsu/mitsu/yottsu kattara, waribiki wa arimasuka?
- English: That’s a bit expensive, isn’t it?
- Japanese: Chotto takai desu ne.
- English: Could you lower the price a bit?
- Japanese: Yasuku narimasenka?
- English: Would you accept xx yen?
- Japanese: XX en ni shite moraemasenka?
- English: You drive a hard bargain!
- Japanese: Chotto kibishi desu ne!
- English: I don’t have enough money!
- Japanese: Okane ga tarinai desu!
- English: Which era/year is this from?
- Japanese: Kore wa itsu no jidai no mono desuka?
- English: Which region/city is this from?
- Japanese: Kore wa doko no mono desuka?
Your Tokyo Flea Market Search is Just Beginning
If you’re looking for a flea market in Tokyo, this list only scratches the surface--please don’t be afraid to keep hunting! There are all sorts of fairs and markets in every ward; even your local neighbourhood will probably put on a flea market at least once a year, offering a great opportunity to get to know people as well. Apart from being a fun way to shop for the basics, flea and antique markets hold the promise of rare and one-off items you won’t find elsewhere and authentic souvenirs to take home.