A Quick Guide to Ameyoko Market, Tokyo

Ameyoko Market and shopping street
Wedged in between JR Okachimachi Station or JR Ueno Station

 

Tokyo’s Ameyoko Market is a rabbit warren 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.

Where is it?
The area it’s located in can get a little confusing, so hopefully this map makes it a bit easier to navigate. I’ve marked on it where I took the photo above, standing at that Y-shaped intersection where the road diverges into two. Those are your two main shopping streets, with others intersecting and cutting across them.

 

How do you get there?
Via subway – it’ll depend where you’re coming from, and you can use this nifty map to work it out, but the closest stations are Ueno-Hirokoji on the Ginza line, and Ueno-Okachimachi (literally across the road) on the Oedo line.

What should I shop for?
There’s not much you won’t find there, but there are a few things that are particularly popular:
– Golf gear: there are more than a dozen multi-level golf shops, selling clothes, shoes, clubs, bags, and even lessons.
Athletic wear and shoes: they’re an active bunch, so probably no surprise that you can find a lot of stores selling training gear (gym shoes, clothes, etc).
– Fish: fresh fish and dried fish, they’ve got it all. If you’re looking at taking some of the packaged, dried stuff home, best check if you’re actually allowed to take it through customs before you stock up!
– Packaged snacks: there are a couple of mega-stores absolutely full of snack foods. Chips chocolate and crackers and lollies in flavours you never imagined could exist.

Do you barter?
Honestly, I didn’t bother, for a few reasons:
a) The prices are marked and already very reasonable.
b) Language barrier.
c) The Japanese are just so damn polite and likeable that I didn’t want to rip them off!

When is the best time to go?
Around 12pm is a good time to go – most of the stores should be open by then, but it’s not so hectic yet that you can’t walk around comfortably. Most casual eateries are already open and the restaurants are still getting ready for the lunch rush which is good, because you’ll want to have eat there.

What should I eat?
A sashimi bowl from the place in the photo above. It’s cheap, it’s market fresh and it is delicious. My bowl of fresh tuna, fatty tuna and salmon on sushi rice cost about AUD$10.00, and it was magnificent. If raw fish isn’t your jam, they cook up gyoza and tempura, too. Next door is an Osaka-style takoyaki stand if you fancy something a bit different. And then head back for a matcha soft serve. Just try to get a seat outside if it’s a hot day – the tiny little kitchen gets pretty warm…

Normally I’d say anywhere at the market is good for eating, but there are actually some really touristy places here I’d highly recommend steering clear of. General rule of thumb is if you walk past and someone walks after you waving a menu in your face and telling you that you must try their blah blah blah, don’t bother. If the food is good, they won’t chase you down to eat there because there will already be a line at the door.

If you have room for dessert, look for the taiyaki stand. Creamy smooth vanilla custard inside a golden crisp fish-shaped waffle. The perfect hand held market food.

How do I pay for stuff?
It’s a market – cash is king. If you’ve forgotten to bring some with you, just look for the green and blue Family Mart sign (they’re on every second corner), which should have an ATM inside.

 

When I’m done shopping, what else is there to do?
Head up to the Ueno Imperial Grant Park to walk off all that sashimi – it’s a short walk away, and the grounds are gorgeous. There are several pagodas and shrines on the grounds, museums, and even a zoo. And, if you time it right, cherry blossoms.

 

Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a day in Healesville

Founded in the mid 1800s, this sweet little town was born after a rail line was built through it to service the surrounding goldfields. The gold may have long since dried up, but Healesville now lives in some of the state’s best wine country.

Healesville is one of my favourite places to get away to. It’s a little over an hour out of Melbourne’s CBD, making it far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet, but not so far that it’s a hassle to get to. And now that Victoria is opening up again, it’s the perfect time to go and explore for a night or two.

 

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK:
– Innocent Bystander Winery
Amazing wine, pizzas, cheeses, breads and pastries. It’s not cheap, but it is quality.
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– Mocha & Lime
Gorgeous little café that serves up a tasty brunch, it’s simple food done well. They also cater extremely well for special diets, including gluten free and vegan options. Bonus points for the floor to ceiling bookshelves at the back of the café where you can browse second hand books while you wait for your coffee.

– Healesville Harvest
A personal favourite of mine – incredible sandwiches using the very best ingredients, and a cake cabinet that’ll make your jaw drop. And yes, those lamingtons are as good as they look.

– Beechworth Bakery
Duh. This place is an institution in Victoria, as anyone who’s ever been on a road trip will know. Bottomless cups of tea, freshly baked bread, golden-crusted pastries, and a fireplace for winter visits. Perfect.

 

WHERE TO SHOP:
– Healesville Jewellers
My favourite jewellery shop in the world. They do they most beautiful pieces with precious stones, and they’re very reasonably priced. They also do a lot of one-off pieces, and can adjust ring sizes on site.


– Connection

A gift and homewares boutique where you can find some seriously unique trinkets. Brass globes, antique-style wooden desk sets, leather notebooks, llama jewellery dishes, and everything else in between.

– Verso Books
I’m a sucker for a good independent store. Verso stocks new releases in fiction, beautiful books in arts, gardening and cooking, and a brilliant collection of children’s books.

 

WHAT TO DO:

– Take a drive our to the Redwood Forest in East Warburton
Once you’re done walking and eating your way around Healesville, head out to the Redwoods. It’ll take you around 40 minutes to drive there, but it is more than worth the effort. Just make sure you bring an extra layer of clothes – it’s always quite a bit cooler in there tucked away under the trees.

– Visit the weekend market
Because everyone loves a good market! You can pick up some absolutely brilliant little treasures there, too, if you have time to dig around a little…

– Stop at the Yarra Vallery Chocolaterie on the way home
Because their chocolate is a thing of beauty. You can select a box from their Great Wall of Chocolate (I recommend the Tantalising Toasted Coconut Slice), watch the chocolate artists at work through the giant kitchen windows, grab a light lunch or dessert and enjoy the views from their gardens…

The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Melbourne

The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Fitzroy, Melbourne
http://www.rosestmarket.com.au/

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Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year, The Rose St. Artists’ Market is a Fitzroy institution, as is the slightly eccentric, bearded, black leather clad gentleman who stands on the corner of Brunswick and Rose Streets directing foot traffic the right direction. If you haven’t been before and aren’t familiar with this guy, don’t be put off by first impressions – he’s really lovely!

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Open every weekend (both Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 5pm), I stop in every time I’m in the area, which is pretty often! What started back in 2003 is now an iconic hub for some of Melbourne’s best creative talent, and one of the best places in the city to support local talent by purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces, with everything from clothing and baby accessories, jewellery to homewares, trinkets to art work.

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Another great thing about this market is that the people selling the goods are the people who are actually making them, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet and speak to some seriously talented craftsmen and women.

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This is my favourite small market in Melbourne – the talent is phenomenal, and I’ve bought so many amazing pieces here over the years. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s definitely time to get reacquainted, and if you’ve never been before, this weekend might be a good time to make a visit!

Photo Journal: Bangkok’s Chinatown

If there’s one certainty (or as close to as possible) in life, it’s this: no matter what country or city you go to, Chinatown will always be there for you. Chinatown is a constant in most big cities across the globe, which is really quite phenomenal when you think about it. I always love checking out a city’s Chinatown as well, because you’re guaranteed to find some seedy looking little places with the most incredible food, as well as some real hole-in-the-wall shops that sell stuff you didn’t even realise you needed until you found it there.

Bangkok’s Chinatown is no exception to the rule – a quick and scenic boat ride down the river from the main tourist hub, it’s everything your mind conjures up when you hear the word “Chinatown;” it’s colourful, noisy, busy, constantly moving and bumping into you. It smells amazing and foreign, there’s stuff absolutely everywhere, with shops not merely contained to their physical stores, but with their wares spilling out onto the side walk. It’s tuk tuks and motorbikes masterfully dodging and weaving down the narrowest alleys possible, and making it look as simple as pushing a supermarket trolley through a wide open parking lot.

It’s people + craziness + market + food, which equals my heaven.

Here are some of my favourite shots from my visit in January…

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

What’s the Chinatown in your city like? Always looking for recommendations to add to my travel bucket list!