Ameyoko Market and shopping street
Wedged in between JR Okachimachi Station or JR Ueno Station (see below)
I re-visited Chicago’s Christkindl Christmas Market last week; this week I’m crossing the globe and heading back to Tokyo for a very different kind of market…
The Ameyoko Market is essentially a mammoth maze of streets that are home to 500-odd stalls, selling everything from dried fish to nail polish. It was originally opened as a black market post-war, but it’s visited by what seemed like everyone in the city now.
Crazy busy with an absolutely electric atmosphere, it was a really fun place to explore. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the fact that most of the streets were full of shoulder-to-shoulder pedestrian traffic. Heaps of delicious food stops on the way through, with a lot of the younger vendors having a bit of fun trying to convince obvious foreigners to stop and enjoy a meal with them in their limited English. As I keep saying, food is the great connector of people all over the world 🙂
I got lucky and stumbled on a sushi house that had a massive line out the front, which to me screams “GREAT FOOD!”
I joined the line, pointed to the picture that had the bowl of what I guessed was a whole lot of tuna on it, and followed the waitress to a bench seat in a crammed, steamy little “kitchen”…
10 minutes or so later, this bowl of heaven was ceremoniously plonked in front of me. The most incredible, fresh, soft tuna I’ve ever had. Fatty tuna, minced tuna, belly tuna, it was all there, and it was all so melt-in-your-mouth soft you barely had to chew it. All laid on top of a generous serving of rice, it was the perfect lunch to fuel up for the rest of the afternoon exploring. Don’t be scared of the long lines at these markets – long lines = good food!
Winding my way around the market, I came across another line an hour later – taiyaki! Custard filled, fish shaped waffles. Yes please!
Again, I joined the line, pointed to the picture, and got my steaming hot custard sea creature. Easy to see what all the fuss is about – these things are unreal! Creamy smooth vanilla custard inside a golden crisp waffle, perfect hand held market food.
As for shopping, everything did have marked prices, so bartering didn’t seem to be encouraged or accepted at all. That said, the prices were all pretty reasonable; I certainly had no need to barter for anything I was looking at.
It was pretty easy to get to and find, only a short train ride away from my accommodation in Shinjuku, and well and truly worth a visit!