Wandering along the glitzy boulevards of Ginza or navigating the tightly packed alleyways of Akihabara, it’s easy to see where Tokyo gains its reputation as an expensive city. Whether you’re living in the city, or just visiting, everyone wants to save some money on shopping and few places do extreme prices like Tokyo.
In contrast to Ginza and other high-fashion areas, there are just as many trendy areas such as Shimo-Kitazawa which provide masses of second-hand clothing shops. On top of these second-hand shops, Japan’s capital is also home to many pop-up flea markets on weekends which contain every kind of item imaginable. Many specialise in antiques but there’s something for everyone.
Oedo Flea Market – Tokyo International Forum Building
The sleek exterior of the Tokyo International Forum building is an incongruous spot for a flea market, but it’s a perfect fit. On one Sunday every month, dozens of antique sellers and clothing merchants descend upon the ground floor of one of the city’s most luxurious-looking buildings.
There are plenty of high-end items on display and jewelry is one of the biggest sellers here. The building is hard to miss and just a short walk from Tokyo Station, but be sure to check the upcoming dates so you don’t miss out.
Yoyogi Flea Market + Earth Day Market – Yoyogi Park
Not content with being the biggest and most popular park in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park also hosts a flea market once per month. Its close proximity to the teen-fashion capital of Harajuku means that this particular market is more modern and slightly hipper than most of the others.
An Earth Day Market that specializes in green-friendly items is also held once a month in the same spot. The Yoyogi area is huge but the market is held behind the National Gymnasium and is best accessed via Harajuku Station and a short walk.
Mottainai Flea Market – Various locations
Much more than simply meaning ‘recycle’, the phrase mottainai encourages people not to waste their money or their possessions. There are countless Facebook groups and online resources devoted to preserving this Japanese tradition of reselling and reusing goods, but there is nothing better than seeing it happen in front of your eyes.
The Mottainai Flea Market often changes location but usually takes place in Akihabara between 10.00 and 16.00. Check their website for exact times and locations, but be assured that this is a great opportunity to pick up some cheap items, particularly clothes and records.
The best Flea Markets in Tokyo
Always plan and research ahead before heading off to one of the flea markets as dates and times will often change depending on the season. Most are held outside and are thus also subject to the weather so be prepared to show up and find no one there if it’s pouring with rain.
While haggling is not a familiar custom in Japan, it is practiced in many flea markets so don’t be afraid to walk away if a price seems too high or counter with a more sensible offer. Regardless of what you’re looking for, flea markets are a great place to pick up practical items for around the house as well as truly unique souvenirs so don’t be afraid to dig around.
Oi Racecourse – Tokyo City Flea Market
Set up inside a racing course and located over 30 minutes from central Tokyo may not sound like an ideal location to go shopping in Tokyo, but the ‘Tokyo City Flea Market’ is one of the capital’s best. Prices here are incredibly varied but with hundreds of individual sellers, it’s one of the best places in Tokyo to find what you’re looking for and the amount of competition keeps prices down.
The market takes place almost every Saturday and Sunday between 9.00 and 15.00 and the nearest station is Oi Keibajomae on the Tokyo Monorail.