This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
What Do the Japanese Words “Kotto-Ichi” and “Nomi-no-Ichi” Mean?
“Kotto-Ichi” (antique market) and “Nomi-no-Ichi” (flea market) are the Japanese versions of a public market where items like old goods, furniture, and clothes are all displayed and sold. They used to hold flea markets inside the courtyards of shrines for a very long time. However, recently the flea markets have been expanding into open public areas that are easily accessible in Tokyo. One unique feature of these markets is the close proximity of both buyers and sellers, thereby allowing conversations between them while the buyer is looking over an item. It is also fun to enjoy just walking around the marketplace.
There is a wide variety of items on sale at these markets, therefore, if you do some research on the shop before you head out, it will make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for. But you can also just go and try to see if they have what you want or you might even be able to come across a good find that you never even thought of. It is really like an exciting treasure hunt for adults. Each type of market is held on a both regular and irregular basis.
This time will be introducing you to both regularly and irregularly scheduled antique and flea markets that are easily accessible in Tokyo.
Regularly Held Markets
1. Oedo Antique Market [Chiyoda-ku and Shibuya-ku]
This is the largest scale outdoor market in Japan. There are about 250 exhibitors gathered together and items range from Japanese antiques to pieces that came from northern Europe. This market has been held since 2003 marking the 400th anniversary of the start of the Edo period, and this year will be the 14th market being held at this location. A recommended item here is a “mame-zara” which is a small dish that can fit in the palm of your hand, and were formerly used for serving soy sauce. But recently, because of their cute colorful design and variety they are becoming more and more popular with people who collect them. They are also the perfect souvenir that can not only be used for practical purposes, but also for purely decorative ones.
These European antique pieces look like they just jumped right out of a picture book. You can enjoy imagining stories that are associated with these items.
One of the good things about this market is that it is held in the Tokyo International Forum every first and third Sunday of the month, as well as being held irregularly in Yoyogi Park. It is easily accessible and recommended for people who are going to an antique market for the first time.
[Information about Oedo Antique Market]
「Tokyo International Forum – The Ground-Level Plaza」
Date: The first and third Sunday every month (Also open on May 28th, 2017)
Hours of Operation: 9 AM to 4 PM（Depending on the weather）
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 1 minute walk from the Yurakucho Stations on each of the JR Keihin Tohoku Line, JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line or a 5 minute walk from Tokyo Station on the JR Lines and Subway Lines
Address: Tokyo International Forum – The Ground-Level Plaza, 5-1 Marunouchi 3-Chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
「Yoyogi Park – Keyaki-Namiki」
Date: Held Irregularly (Scheduled for June 25th, July 23rd, November 23rd, December 9th, 2017）
Hours of Operation: 8 AM to 4 PM
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 3 minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line, or a 3 minute walk from Yoyogi-koen Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or a 3 minute walk from Meiji-Jinjumae (Harakuku) Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda/Fukutoshin Line
Address: Yoyogi-koen Keyaki-Namiki, Jinnan 2-Chome, Yoyogi-kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
2. Machida Tenmangu Garakuta Antique Market [Machida-shi]
This antique market is held at Machida Tenmangu Shrine which worships Sugawara no Michizane (a famous deity of learning that supports the minds of students who are taking exams). You can find items like good old retro pieces from the Showa period, and kimonos. Uniquely painted Japanese toys and books on illustration which were both popular among kids of the time could be immensely appreciated as a souvenir.
Vividly colored patches that can be sewn on a shirt or anything other piece of clothing making your own unique one-of-a-kind item.
[Information about Machida Tenmangu Garakuta Antique Market]
Date: The first of every month, except for a possible change of dates in January and November
Hours of Operation: 7 AM to 3 PM come rain or shine
Admission Fee: Free
Access: An 8 minute walk from Odakyu Machida Station on the Odakyu Line or a 5 minute walk from Machida Station on the JR Yokohama Line
Address: 1-21-5 Haramachida, Machida-shi, Tokyo (Google Map)
3. Nogi Shrine Antique Flea Market [Minato-ku]
This market is also held in the courtyard of a shrine on the 4th Sunday every month. After finishing up your soul satisfying shopping here, going to pray at the shrine might be a good idea.
This picture represents a variety of the different sizes of kokeshi dolls. As you start looking at these dolls, a feeling of affection will come over you due to their adorable round shape, and because of this, they have also been used by children as toys since a long time ago. It is fun to see the different facial expressions depending on who made the dolls.
[Information about Nogi Shrine Antique Flea Market]
Date: The fourth Sunday every month (scheduled for June 25th, July 23rd, August 23rd, September 24th, October 22nd, November 26th and December 24th, 2017)
Hours of Operation: 9 AM to dusk (Cancelled on rainy days)
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A short walk from Exit 1 in Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or a 5 minute walk from Roppongi Station on the Hibiya/Oedo Lines
Address: 11-27 Akasaka 8-Chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo（Google Map）
4. Akasaka flea market in ARK HILLS [Minato-ku]
You can enjoy the heart pumping excitement of just browsing through European goods at this market. Sometimes in the past, they have had apparel shops, food trucks from restaurants that are highly spoken of, and musical performances. You can call it the reinvented flea market of the next generation.
This is a picture that shows the trendy bistro food which was sold here. One of the enjoyable things about coming here is the shops are constantly changing. One mouthful of this exceptionally tender beef will recharge your battery for shopping for the rest of the afternoon.
[Information about Akasaka flea market in ARK HILLS]
Date: The 4th Sunday every month, except for December which will be held on the 2nd Sunday (Scheduled for June 25th, July 23rd, Aug 23rd, September 24th, October 22nd, November 26th and December 10th, 2017)
Hours of Operation: 11 AM to 5 PM
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 1 minute walk from Exit 3 in Roppongi-itchome Station on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line or a 1 minute walk from Exit 13 in Tameike-sanno Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Address: ARK Karajan place 1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo（Google Map）
5. Aoyama Weekly Antique Market [Shibuya-ku]
There are plenty of accessories here that cannot be found in a regular shop! They range from beaded to flower-motif earrings. When you go out wearing these accessories, your step will be brisker than usual.
You can enjoy Farmer’s Market @ UNU also held every Saturday where farmers sell their vegetables at the plaza in front of United Nations University, however please note, that the Aoyama Weekly Antique Market is usually held on the street as you are heading toward the university courtyard from the farmer’s market.
[Information about Aoyama Weekly Antique Market]
Date: Every Saturday
Hours of Operation: 10 AM to 4 PM
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 5 minute walk from Omotesando Station on each of the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda, Hanzomon and Ginza Lines or a 10 minute walk from Shibuya Station on each of the JR, private and subway lines
Address: Aoyama United Nations University-mae Hiroba, 53-70 Jingumae 5-Chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo（Google Map）
6. Ariake Retro Festival [Koto-ku]
This market is known for its unique style which means that the sellers do not display their items in a booth, but in their cars. It is held in front of Tokyo Big Sight (famous for their comic market that draws in more than 500,000 anime fans) therefore, access is easy and it is a lot of fun looking at all the exhibits. This market is also perfect for coming across rare antiques that you usually do not see in everyday life.
This is a picture of the melancholic miniature HARIBO Bears. These bears are so endearing that you might not be able to stop yourself from buying the differently dressed bears one after another.
[Information about Ariake Retro Festival]
Date: Either the 3rd or 4th Sunday every month (scheduled for May 21st, June 25th, July 23rd, August 27th, September 10th, October 15th and November 26th, 2017 – No exhibits from December to February)
Hours of Operation: 10 AM to 5 PM (Canceled on rainy and windy days, and you check out the latest information on the web notifying visitors using the weather forecast from one day prior to the scheduled day)
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 1 minute walk from Kokusai-tenjijo Station on the Rinkai Line or a 2 minute walk from Ariake Station on the Yurikamome Line
Address: Tokyo Big Sight-mae 7, Ariake 3-Chome, Koto-ku, Tokyo（Google Map）
「Irregularly Held Markets」
7. JUNKSHOW TOKYO 2017 [Chiyoda-ku]
Here you can find yourself in the pop and fairy-tale worlds filled with numerous toys. There are nostalgic characters that you have seen at least once, all gathered together ranging from famous animation figures to action hero figures. Admission fee is 1,000 yen, but coming here is worth the price.
Here are some figures that appeared in the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. It might seem like they are a bit odd, but they are drawn in true American style.
[Information about the 56th JUNKSHOW TOKYO 2017]
Date: Scheduled for July 1st and 2nd, December 2nd and 3rd, 2017
Hours of Operation: July 1st 11 AM to 5 PM and on the 2nd 10 AM to 4 PM
Admission Fee: High school students and older 1,000 yen
Access: A 7 minute walk from Exit 1b in Takebashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line or a 7 minute walk from Exit 2 in Kudanshita Station on the Tokyo Metro Tozai and Hanzomon Lines and the Toei Shinjuku Line
Address: The Science Museum 2-1 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
8. Tokyo Nomi-no-ichi [Chofu-shi]
This market’s concept states that “You will enjoy forgetting all about time.” Just as the concept states, you can spend a relaxing time while forgetting the daily grind. This is a picture of “tonbodama” (glass beads with a hole) and other colorful beads in containers that looks like jewelry boxes.
This is a picture of tin race-car toys that are reminiscent of yesteryear. The retro shades of color that can not be produced by using plastic help make you recall the good old days.
[Information about the 11th Tokyo Nomi-no-ichi]
Date: May 13th and 14th, 2017 (Held even on rainy days, except for extreme weather conditions)
Hours of Operation: May 13th 9:30 AM to 6 PM and May 14th 9 AM to 5 PM
Admission Fee: 500 yen (Free for elementary students and younger）
Access: A short walk from a temporary makeshift exit (from 9:30 AM to 6 PM on both days) in Keio-tamagawa Station on the Keio Sagamihara Line or a 4 minute walk heading right, after the ticket gate, toward the Hashimoto (Tamagawa) area using the regular exit
Address: Tokyo Oval Keiokaku, 31-1 Tamagawa 4-Chome, Chofu-shi, Tokyo（Google Map）
9. HEIWAJIMA ANTIQUES FAIR [Ota-ku]
This market is famous because it is Japan’s oldest indoor antique event since 1978. Due to the fact that it is held indoors, extreme weather conditions are not a concern at all. Each time this market is held, nearly 300 nationwide vendors set up their booths. This is a picture of a bear trio carved out of wood which has been beloved as a Hokkaido folk craft for many years. Normally, when we think of carved bears they always have a salmon in their mouths giving a wild image to the carving, but here at the antique market they offer many different heartwarming scenarios, including this one of an adult bear with her cubs.
This is a picture of a knitting magazine. From the end of the Taisho period (1912 to 1926) to the early Showa period (1926 to 1989) there was a great influx of western culture in Japan, and many women embraced the “Moga” fashion sense overflowing the streets of Japan. When you look at these magazines, you can tell just how fashionable knitting was in those days among women. At this antique market you can see the lifestyle of the old days.
[Information about HEIWAJIMA ANTIQUES FAIR]
Date: June 23rd to June 25th, 2017
Hours of Operation: 10 AM to 5 PM (on the 25th, the market closes at 4 PM and final admittance is at 3 PM)
Admission Fee: Free
Access: A 1 minute walk from Ryutsu Center Station on the Tokyo Monorail or get off at Omori Station on the JR Keihintohoku Line and then take a 13 minute bus ride on the Keihin kyuko Bus on the Heiwajima Junkan (Loop) from the No. 9 bus stop at the East Exit and exit the bus at the Ryutsu Center-mae bus stop and it is just a short walk from there.
Address: 6-1-1 Heiwajima, Ota-ku, Tokyo（Google Map）
10. Antique Jamboree [Koto-ku]
This market is held at Tokyo Big Sight, and so far, not only have they been selling antiques, but they also have had events like a talk show and special exhibitions. Their official homepage that categorizes the sellers name and a list of different kinds of antiques is the thing that makes collectors happy and it allows shoppers to come in and get just what they need.
This picture shows gourd-shaped soy sauce containers and they are the official character named “Hyo-chan” with its appealing cheerful face from Kiyoken, a steamed meat dumpling company. They are adorable and have been around for 62 years and Hyo-chan had his 60th anniversary in 2015.
[Information about Antique Jamboree]
Date: Aug 4th to 6th, 2017
Hours of Operation: 10 AM to 5 PM
Admission Fee: Early Buyer’s Ticket (effective for 3 days) at the door 1,000 yen or in advance 800 yen (after 1 PM on Aug 6th admission is free)
Access: a 3 minute walk from Kokusai-tenjijo-seimon Station on the Yurikamome Line or a 7 minute walk from Kokusai-tenjijo Station on the Rinkai Line
Address: Tokyo Big Sight East Hall 1, 11-1 Ariake 3-Chome, Koto-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
HP: home.att.ne.jp/sun/jambokun/antique/（Japanese only）
Many antique and flea markets are held in the Tokyo area, therefore, why don’t you visit one of them when you have some free time or if the weather is nice? You will definitely be captivated by the nostalgic antiques!