Tokyo teems with dozens of markets and shopping areas, and sometimes it actually feels like the entire city is a single mega shopping district. When I was in Tokyo, I spent quite a lot of time at Ameyayokocho market, a series of walking shopping streets. The name of the market actually translates to “candy shop alley,” and while you will find some sweets vendors, it’s now turned into an everything alley.
The market is more of an afternoon and night market, so if you go in the morning, most things will be closed and the streets empty. Go in the afternoon or evening, and it’s a completely different story.
The history of Ameyoko is equally fascinating. There used to be a lot of candy stores in the street all perfectly lined up in the early post-war era, thus the name “Ameya-Yokocho”, which literally means ‘candy store alley’. Alternatively, there’s another theory that “Ame” refers to America, thanks to the American army goods that used to be sold here post-World War II.
Ameyayokocho market is really a very busy market.
One of the things I really like about Ameyayokocho market is the variety of stuff available. Next to a shop entirely filled with nail polish, you’ll find a fish monger slicing up fresh sashimi. There are cosmetic shops, clothing stores, shoe stores, military gear stores, casinos, comic book stores, anime character shops, snacks and street food vendors, and everything in-between.
Along with the variety of what is available at the market, I also enjoyed how international it was. There appeared to be people from around the entire world walking through the market and enjoying the lively atmosphere. The action is too exciting to experience.
Especially in the late afternoon, when most people finish work, there are a number of Izakaya bars where you can sample delicious skewers of yakitori and chase them down with beer or sake. In the evening, these places are packed out, and it can even be a challenge to find an empty table.
There were even a cluster of wonderful looking shack-sized Chinese street food stalls within the market, that looked really good, but I never had a chance to eat at.
Ameyayokocho Market is one of the best markets to experience in Tokyo if you love shopping, food, and culture, in an action filled environment.
In Japan’s supermarkets and stores, people have to purchase stuff at fixed price, but it apparently does not happen the same way in Ameyoko. Sellers and buyers are allowed to negotiate the price that satisfies both of two sides. Besides that, merchants always smile and give you big welcome when you visit their stands. Right here in Ameyoko market, sincere communications among people make warm and exciting atmosphere.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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