The flea market comes of age in Japan

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 are 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.

O-i Keibajo (O-i race track) in No.1 Parking area
Location: 2-1-2 Katsushima Shinagawa-ku Tokyo
Time: 9:00-15:00 [held once a month]
Number of sellers: 600
How to get there: About a 3 min walk from O-i Keibajo station (two stops on Monorail train from Hamamatsu-cho station), a 10 min walk from Ekaigawa station (Keihin Kyu-ko line).

Very popular, the biggest representative fleamarket in Tokyo which you make most finds you want! There are about 600 shops altogether! It is held even if there is light rain. Held about twice or three times a month and hosted by Tokyo citizens recycling society (Tokyo Risaikuru-Undo Shiminno-kai).

Meiji Park
Location: Kasumigaoka-machi Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
Time: 9:00-15:00 [held twice a month]
Number of sellers: approx. 600
Access: 7 minutes walk from Sendagaya station(JR line), next to Nihon Seinen-kan.
Hosted by Tokyo citizens recycling society(Tokyo Risaikuru-Undo Shiminno-kai). OTAKARA.NET

Now a large, popular flea market for a wide range of ages. Almost anything is available! Held twice a month. Go by train not car because there is no parking area. The market is not held if it rains.

Tokyo Dome Jumbo Flea Market -Tokyo Dome City / Prism Hall
Location: Tokyo Dome city, 1-3-61 Kouraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Number of sellers: 300
Access: Near the East exit of Suido-bashi station(JR line), A2 exit of Suido-bashi station(Toei-Mita line), the A1 exit of Kasuga station(O-edo line), No.1, 2 exit of Korakuen station(Nanboku, Marunouchi lines).

Yoyogi Park -Shibuya Koendori Fes-
Location: 2 Jinnan Yoyogi-Kamizonocho Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm [held monthly]
Number of sellers: 800
Access: 5 minute walk from Harajuku station (JR Yamanote line or 6-7 minute walk from Meiji jingu-mae station(Chiyoda line), 10 minute walk from Shibuya station. Next to NHK hall.

This well known, big, and always-crowded monthly-held fleamarket was first held in 1981 called ‘free market’ ['R' being 'L' in Japanese]. This was the beginning of the flea-market in Japan. Mainly fashion items for the young are sold such as casual wear, sneakers, fashion bags. You will also find popular famous brand items but beware of fake brand items as I am not aware of any part of the consumer protection law in Japan that gives you any protection from being sold a fake Gucci bag, for instance, at a flea-market.

Ariake Rinkai Fukutohsin Jambo FM
Location: Aomi Nishi(West) Temporary car park area (diagonally in front of Palette Town), 1 Aomi, Koto-ku Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Number of sellers: approx. 300
Admission charge: JPY300
Access: 5 min. walk from Aomi station(New Transit Yurikamome line),and an 8 min walk from Tokyo Teleport station (Rinkai Fukutoshin line.

Shinjuku Nomura Building
Location: Shinjuku Nomura Building, 1-26-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm [held twice a month]
Number of shops: 300
Access: a 5 minutes walk from West Exit of JR Shinjuku station, a 3 min. walk from Nishi-Shinjuku station(Subway Marunouchi line). It is along Oume Kaido(St.), across from Shinjuku Police station.

Popular and typical flea market in Tokyo for a wide range of ages, items such as household stuff, collectable watches, cameras, guitars, American old household items, vintage clothes, sneakers etc.

Ajinomoto Stadium(ex Tokyo Stadium) Flea market
Location: Ajinomoto Stadium, 376-3 Nishi-cho, Chofu-shi, Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Number of sellers: 800
Admission charge: JPY300 from 10:00am- (JPY1,000 for the entrance from 8:00am-before 10:00am)
Access: 5 min.walk from Tobitakyu station(Keio line), 20 min walk from Tama-Bochi Mae station(Seibu Tamagawa line).

Asakusa Sumida Park
Location: Sumida Park, Hanakawado2, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm [held monthly]
Number of sellers: approx. 100
Access: Near Asakusa station(Ginza, JR Tobu lines). Next to the water-bus station on the lefthand of Azuma bashi bridge.

Fleamarket with fine, scenic views on the Asakusa sightseeing route.

Shinagawa Inter City Weekday Flea Market
Location: Shinagawa InterCity, Kounan2-15-2, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Time: 11:00am-4:00pm [Held Last Wednesday to Friday of every month]
Number of sellers: approx. 120
Access: Directly out from the South Exsit of Shinagawa station(JR lines). all tower Shinagawa InterCity, near JR Shinagawa station. They still hold the market if it rains.

Sumitomo 3M Flea Market in Youga
Location: Tama Doubutsu Koen station(Keio line)
Time: 110:00am-4:00pm
Number of shops: about 150
Access: Youga station(Subway Shin-Tamagawa line). Go toward #8 ringway “Kanjo Hachi-go Sen” along the Tomei Kousoku express way. Next to Restaurant “Denny’s” at the cross-point of the express way. Held in front of The Sumitomo 3M building and the car park.

Nakano Sakaue Pao Flea Market
Location: Nakano Sakaue Pao, Honcho2-46-1, Nakanoku, Tokyo
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Number of sellers: about 200
Access: close to Nakano Sakaue station(Subway Marunouchi, O-edo lines). Held in the Nakano-word residential neighborhood, right in front of Nakano Sakaue station.

Good market for women’s clothing.

Train Market (Densha de furima)
Location: Tama Doubutsu Koen station(Keio line)
Time: 10:00-16:00 [Held the 2nd Sunday of every month]
Access: Held in the platform of Tama-Doubutsu Koen (Keio line), the square in front of the station and on a train! It will not be held if it rains.

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