Our Insider’s Pick of Japan’s Best Markets

Markets are the best way to soak up the local culture while getting some amazing deals and making some new friends. Local insider, Kavish, shares his pick of Japan’s most unique and interesting markets to add to your itinerary.

Takeshita Street

Takeshita Street

A perennial favourite among both Japanese and foreigners alike, Takeshita Street is located in the trendy Harajuku district in Tokyo. This is a teenage-oriented market, with the latest in in local fashion, street food  and, saving the best for last, crepes

It’s best to come on a Sunday afternoon. This is when the droves of uniquely dressed Harajuku girls take to the streets, flaunting the latest, quirkiest and often bizarre fashion trends to capture their imagination. 

Highlights of Takeshita Street include scrumptious goodies from Marion’s crepes, used clothes boutiques, which retail both branded and other clothes for relatively cheap prices, and of course, one of the largest Daiso, the local dollar-store, outlets in the country. 

Even if you can only afford to shop at Daiso, definitely do visit Takeshita-Dori (‘street’ in Japanese) for a truly Japanese cultural experience. However, jam-packed crowds do not make this a fun trip for the more claustrophobic travellers.

Omotesando

Also located in the vicinity of Harajuku and Shibuya, Omotesando is to the rich and elite what Takeshita-Dori is to the teenagers of Japan.

With an upscale shopping mall called Omotesando Hills, which, while mostly unaffordable to the average traveller, offers a welcome respite from the heat of summer along with a unique and aesthetically-pleasing bout of window shopping. 

The street itself, lined with zelkova trees, presents a haven of high-end fashion boutiques, ranging from the likes of well-known brands such as Gucci to the more ‘indie’ brands.

A must-visit for anyone remotely interested in fashion.

Ameya Yoko-Cho

For an experience with the unpretentious side of Japan, a visit to the Ameyoko market located in Ueno is a must. 

A stroll through the market reveals a remnant from Japan’s past, filled with street hawkers dealing in clothes, jewellery, accessories, dodgy Chinese medication, and of course, the delectable street-food for which Japan is so famous.

Unfortunately, if you’re a vegetarian, this might be a less than ideal venue for lunch. 

Despite the droves of people walking about with smartphones, this is the closest many of us can get to a genuine black market from the post-war era. The prices here are so a far-cry from the inflated price-tags of common tourist hotspots such as Harajuku.

So walk around, gorge yourself on the street-food and find a treasure trove of things you are looking for (and quite a few things you didn’t know you needed!).

Nishiki Market

Moving on to the historic streets of Kyoto, Nishiki market is a must-visit for any foodie intent on eating their way through Japan. With specialised stalls dealing almost exclusively in locally-sourced produce, pickles, seafood and more, it’s also a wonderful place to gorge yourself on free samples! 

Prices are quite cheap, but do tend to lean towards the high side for certain traditional and specialty food items.

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1 Comment

  • Ada Wilkinson said

    The thing about Harajuku girls on a Sunday has been long gone and is now a myth. I believe many Travel guide books have update about this info.

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