Flea markets in Japan | 日本のフリーマーケット


Antique and flea markets are held at several locations around Tokyo; they are great places to find anything from junk and old photos to Samurai helmets and wedding kimonos. Or just browse and soak up the market atmosphere…

An article by Alfie Goodrich for Japanorama.co.uk

“Days, weeks and probably – if I added the time up – months of my young life in England were spent trawling around second-hand and antique markets with my parents. Now, it seems, here in Japan the equivalent ‘flea market’ has shifted from something students and young people frequent and entered the mainstream. My first experience of a Japanese flea-market was that held in the car-park of the Nihon-Senenkan Hotel near the Olympic Stadium in Sendagaya [see the Meiji Park market details below, it’s the same one]. I was staying there with my wife as her brother is the hotel’s manager. The market was a relatively small-scale market at that time, in Christmas 2000. Maybe only 50 0r 60 stalls and frequented it seemed mostly by people well under the age of 30. Since then a whole rash of similar markets have sprung up all over the city, most very well organized – naturally – and large, with the bigger ones featuring five or six-hundred ’stalls’.

This is all good news as far as we here at Japanorama are concerned. After the experience of having parents die recently, then selling their house, then moving from the UK to Japan we know all about the charity shop, boot sales and even had four sales in our house and garden before leaving. The proceeds paid for more than half the airfares for two adults and two kids to come from London to Tokyo and the whole experience was reasonably good fun too.””

Organized community recycling schemes are behind some markets, the most active of which seems to be the CITIZENS RECYCLING SOCIETY (Risaikuru-Undo Shiminno-kai), based in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. If you want to get hold of them you can get them on TEL: 03-3266-6800 FAX: 03-5379-1510.

Families and housewives getting stuck in…

Whatever the impetus, be it an increased awareness of the need to re-use and recycle, people feeling the economic pinch and needing a bit of extra cash. Or simply the economies of living space in the average Japanese home, families are now selling their unwanted stuff and housewives are out buying it.

As JapanToday and Kyodo News reported in a recent article on the flea-market phenomenon: A 35-year-old housewife visited the flea market near JR Shinagawa Station in mid-January to look for brand-name clothing for her 1-year-old son. She said she often visits the market but sets a budget of 1,000 yen per item.

She said she has exceeded her budget in the past when haggling with a seller over the price of a special item.

“The knack for getting the things you want is to go around the place one more time because almost all the stalls lower prices in the afternoon,” she said smiling.

A 41-year-old man from Shinagawa Ward spread out about 100 items of secondhand clothing, including sweaters and jeans.

“Six of us, including my wife and friends, came here to sell items we think it would be ‘mottainai’ to throw away just because we don’t wear them anymore,” the company employee said. “Mottainai” is a Japanese word that means a few things, including “waste”, but which some interpret as encapsulating the three R’s of reduce, re-use and recycle.

Where are the main Tokyo flea-markets?

There’s a bunch of great flea-markets across Tokyo. Here are some we are aware of but do drop us a line if you know of others. The schedule for these things is relatively fixed and there are details for some below. But, for exact details you should do one of the following:

  1. Check a copy of the listings section in Metropolis, the free English language magazine available in a lot of spots all over Tokyo. A list of where you can find a copy is here.
  2. Check the Paper Lantern website’s calendar.
  3. Take a look at this page of the Japan National Tourist Organization’s website
  4. Contact the CITIZENS RECYCLING SOCIETY (Risaikuru-Undo Shiminno-kai), based in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. TEL: 03-3266-6800 FAX: 03-5379-1510.

In Tokyo, you should be able to find a few flea markets every weekend. Three major ones are held at Meiji Park with about 600 merchants, Shinjuku Chuo Park with about 250, Yoyogi Park with more than 800, and at Oi horse race track.

And do not miss to have a look at our detailed map to help you navigate your way through flea markets in Tokyo and Yokohama!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog offers an overview of hundreds of flea markets from around the world. For this reason we have limited time and resources to keep each review up to date with precise information regarding flea markets’ opening days. In the case of flea markets running on a relative regular schedule (Saturday and/or Sunday, last/first Sunday of the month, Monday to Sunday, etc), the opening dates we provide are accurate.

Antique fairs in Tokyo and Yokohama, however, operate on a more random schedule. So we advise you to verify beforehand their opening dates. We recommend for instance Best Living Japan, which provides month on month updated information on Japan Antique Markets. Last but not least, most outside markets in Tokyo get usually cancelled when raining. So keep that in mind when planning a trip to the flea market.