Oedo Antique Flea Market – Since 2003
The Oedo Antique Flea Market (大江戸骨董市), which started in September 2003 to celebrate 400 years since the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, or the Tokugawa bakufu and the Edo bakufu, is the biggest open-air antiques market in Japan.
Held at Tokyo International Forum, which is next to Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote line on the first and third Sunday every month (the market will be closed in case of rain, or if there are other huge events at the forum), it is an excellent platform if you love unique handicrafts, old, antique decorative items, or vintage kimonos and Japanese arts and crafts from the Edo-era, which is a period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan.
With more than 250 shops each time, helmed by both professionals and amateurs, the Oedo Antique Flea Market is almost exclusively made up of antiques and vintage goods sellers. While the products are mostly pre- or postwar items from Japan, there are also vintage and retro goods that had been produced and imported from other countries such as US, France, UK, and other parts of Asia such as Thailand. So you can see many European antiques such as western, blue-eye dolls, bags and vintage jewellery.
Among the treasures you can probably find there are some religious items, manekineko, or beckoning cat, antique sake jugs, teacups, ramen bowls, retro posters, vintage ceramics, retro toys, old magazines, vintage clothing, ukiyo-e prints, pottery, old clocks, wood block paintings, ornaments or home decoration and kitchen stuff such as glassware, curios, and statues.
However, feedback from my Japanese friend who was with me was that the prices of some of the more exclusive items were quite expensive as the majority of sellers here are professional shop owners. Of course, you can probably bargain a little here, especially with those non-professional sellers, but not too much. Also, none of the items on sale have any certification to prove their authenticity, so you have to be very careful if you are interested in any items. Most sellers here do not speak English, but you can use Google Translate to communicate with them. Bring cash, as only a few stalls accept credit cards.
As the time drifted into the late afternoon, there are more and more people, especially tourists, the majority of whom must have dropped by via recommendations online like me. Some customers and sellers alike were young professionals dressed in the trendiest styles of the season.
It is best that you visit this place in the morning where the sellers are less busy, and more able to engage with you in a chat or bargain. Finally, allocate at least an hour or two here, as it is a good market to browse if you are a vintage lover. After that, you can just stroll over to the nearby Ginza to take a walk.
Here is a video walkthrough of the Oedo Antique Flea Market, courtesy of Tokyo “Tek Tek” Guide.
Ooedo Kottouichi Japanese Antique Market
Besides the Oedo Antique Flea Market, there is also a monthly sister event in Yoyogi Park, which is the Ooedo Kottouichi Japanese Antique Market. This is a market which attempts to create opportunities for the locals to sell their antique goods and to educate people on Japanese culture and art.
Located in the south side of Yoyogi Park, this market is smaller than the Oedo Antique Flea Market with only about 50 stalls, being a spin-off of the Oedo Antique Flea Market. Here, you can find mostly Japanese vintage goods only, and very little imported ones.
Oedo Antique Flea Market at Tokyo International Forum
Address: Tokyo International Forum, 3-5-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Direction: Take the D5 Exit from the Yurakucho Station on JR Yamanote Line or Yurakucho Subway Lines. It is less than a minute’s walk from there.
Tel: 03-6407-6011 Organizer (They do speak a little English)
Dates: 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month, 9am – 4pm