A Quick Guide to Ameyoko Market, Tokyo

I last visited Tokyo back in 2015, and the post I wrote on the Ameyoko Market is comfortably the all-time most popular post I’ve written since starting this blog! I recently visited again (January 2018), this time with husband in tow, and thought I’d re-visit it on the blog again, too 🙂

Where is it?
First up, a clearer map. It can get a little confusing around the area it’s located, so hopefully this makes it a bit easier to navigate than my last map! I’ve marked below 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?
As I said in my previous post, everything from dried fish to nail polish. But there actually are a few things that are more 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 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. I managed to find the same place I ate at last time I visited, and it’s still just as cheap and just as delicious! My bowl of fresh tuna, fatty tuna and salmon on sushi rice cost about AUD$10.00, and it was the best. You can’t beat fresh fish! 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.

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!

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 blossom trees!

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Shop here: Skoob Books, London, UK

Skoob Books
66, The Brunswick, off Marchmont Street, London
www.skoob.com/

Skoob Books was another one of those places that popped up on my Sygic Travel app while I was looking at other things in the area. It was described as a “second-hand bookshop boasting a huge selection of academic and art books.” Count me in – I was hoping there’d be more than just university text books in there.

Enter at street level and down the stairs you go, like Alice down the rabbit hole. I can see how some people might find the dingy, windowless basement vibe a bit claustrophobic and uncomfortable, but I instantly felt right at home in there. Because in that dimly lit basement, there are books everywhere. So many that the divine smell of musty old pages hits you before the sea of paper fills your vision.

This shop is filled to the brim with books. Crammed onto the shelves, piled on the floor, tucked under tables and falling out of boxes. They claim 55,000 books in a 186 square metre shop – that’s 295 books per square metre. That’s heaven. And it turns out they have a lot more than academic and art books – their range is probably the best I’ve ever seen in a used book store. Everything from philosophy and science to religion and history is covered in an atmosphere that can only be described as semi-organized chaos.

Possibly the best part is that the books are actually really reasonably priced, and they are constantly getting new books in (unlike some used bookstores that just have the same ones in stock for months on end because they’re too overpriced for anyone to purchase them…); they have a warehouse where they have over a million (!!!) books ready to replenish the shelves.

It’s a scary time for us bookworms; one day we read that book sales are up again, the next they’re closing bookstores as more people favour electronic devices to read from. But visiting Skoob gave me a bit of hope that maybe places like this can survive. Its the kind of place you immediately feel a kinship with the other patrons, where you get the feeling that the staff are there because they want to be and actually read, too. A bookshop where things are disordered enough that you feel comfortable being in there, but at the same time, the books are treated with the care and reverence by the types of people who understand that they’re not just books. This is the kind of bookshop that I really hope will never die out, because it’s a place that actually inspires you to pick up a book and read.

Shop here: Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

Libreria Acqua Alta
Where? Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5176/B, 30122 Venice
When? Open daily 09:00 – 20:00

If you’ve ever been to Venice in the colder months, you’ll have no doubt seen what looks like trestle tables stacked up in random corners of the city (go on, Google it – I’ll wait). The city is not perpetually prepared for a giant street party; it’s ready for acqua alta.

When the tide rises, the waters of the Adriatic Sea come roaring in, and poor little Venice dips even further under water for a while! Those trestle tables go up to be used as elevated walkways (called passarelle), and everyone tries to keep their belongings and merchandise dry.

Luigi found a novel solution for the bookshop he named after this natural inconvenience, which he opened in 2004 – he put his books in water proof bins, small boats, bathtubs, even a gondola, parked in the middle of the store. When you open a store full of books on an island that’s slowly sinking, you have to take some extreme precautions!

It’s a haphazardly arranged shop with both new and old tomes, a fire escape that leads to a canal, and a stairway to heaven made of old books with one hell of a view from the top. The staff member I spoke to, while not terribly friendly, did speak English and was able to point me in the right direction. There are some books in English, French, Spanish – mostly they’re in Italian, though. There’s really not much else to write about this place that other bloggers haven’t already So, here’s another set of photos from this little piece of heaven, because how could you possibly get sick of looking at these?!

The Amazing Mill Market, Dayelsford

The Amazing Mill Market
105 Central Springs Rd, Dayelsford, VIC
http://www.millmarkets.com.au/

HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS PLACE?!?! It’s heaven!!!

Mum and dad have temporarily re-located to the countryside, and we paid them a visit  recently. Mum told me she knew exactly what we’d do with the day; there was this awesome market full of vintage and antique and old ephemera that had my name all over it. How impressive could it be if I hadn’t heard of it? Mum, you were totally right.

With three locations (Dayelsford, Geelong and Ballarat), the Mill Markets have “something for everyone who visits with vintage clothes, vintage furniture, memorabilia, art, glass, jewellery, books, antiques and collectables to name a few.” And with an accumulated total of 12,000 square meters, if you can’t find something you like, you need to have your head examined.

We were in there for two or three hours in the end (I think), and I could have comfortably used two or three more. Luckily, they have a café on site in case you need to refuel. They also have staff roaming the store, offering to carry your loot to the front counter to wait for you. And with that much to trawl through, that’s helpful; I could have re-decorated my home and wardrobe fifteen times over. But, I resisted – I came home with some beautiful new wrought iron fleur de lis book ends, a vintage Jules Verne and an adorable little globe. Husband got a book, too, and a gorgeous Abita beer glass. I think the lot cost us around $70, which I thought was very reasonable.

That said, I plan to return soon after Christmas. Because they’re open 7 days a week, and how could I not?!

Eat & shop here: Duck Duck Goose & Larder, Kyneton, VIC (café)

Duck Duck Goose & Larder
17-19 Piper St, Kyneton, Victoria
http://www.duckduckgooseandlarder.com.au/

The hipster apocalypse is nigh. They’ve even made it out to Kyneton! Country Victoria has hipsters! If you’d told me I’d be able to find something like this in Kyneton, I wouldn’t have believed you, but there was Duck Duck Goose, a cafe, larder and providore.

A family business run by mum, dad and daughter, Duck Duck Goose is located in a beautiful old building on Piper Street in Kyneton, and does it all. The cafe is located at the front of the building, with a larger area through the doors and out the back containing their larder and providore, stocked full of artisan breads and biscuits, fresh and locally sourced fruit and veggies, beautiful ceramic tea cups and milk pourers, baskets, cookbooks and lots more.

Despite the strong hipster vibe, the food is actually pretty good, old-fashioned country fare – soups, stacked sandwiches, and pastries, like the sausage roll and pie that caught our attention. The sausage roll was massive, and very tasty – unfortunately the pastry wasn’t as crunchy as I’d have liked (partly because it was half sitting in the salad it came with), but the filling was good.

The pie was magic. It was a chicken and leek number, with the most tender, juicy chicken you could imagine. The pastry was golden and crunchy, and layered like you wouldn’t believe. Hands down the best chicken and leek pie I’ve ever had, and to steal the title away from the Beechworth Bakery is no mean feat.

So, the food was good, but it wasn’t cheap; $12.50 per dish for a pastry + salad was a bit much. We also decided to grab some cookies from the counter on our way out, and were shocked at the price tag of $4 each, for a pretty standard sized chocolate chip cookie! Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but not $4 delicious. It seems to be a difficult line to tread at the moment between good, local, home grown produce and reasonable pricing, but at least places like Duck Duck Goose are making a start on it by offering such good stuff to the public. And being the only place of the sort in Kyneton, I can see why they’re so popular!

 

Duck Duck Goose & Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Port Arthur Lavender, Tasmania (to shop, eat & tea at)

Port Arthur Lavender
6555 Port Arthur Hwy, Port Arthur, Tasmania
http://portarthurlavender.com.au/

From one delicious food and drinkery to another, I’m crossing the ditch today and throwing it back to the Tassie trip we took a few weeks ago. How the husband and I ended up at a Lavender farm is a story that pretty much sums up our whole relationship; we were driving to Port Arthur from Hobart, and husband saw a large sign on the side of the road that read “DISTILLERY.” His eyes lit up, knowing the Tasmania does some good whisky, but said nothing. Do you want to turn around and go back to check it out? Cue quick U-turn and large grin.

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At this point, I’m wondering what the hell kind of a sweet little lavender farm and cafe has a distillery on site… then I saw the sign pointing the way to the lavender oil distillery. Cue disappointment and angry tirade at the signage clearly designed by a woman to trap distinguished gentlemen wanting a civilized glass of whisky. I’d already spied the scones flying out of the kitchen, but thought better than to push my luck. Two days later, on the way back to Hobart, we went on back to the lavender farm, and I got my scones.

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The Port Arthur lavender farm is a family owned business, where over 16,000 lavender plants are grown, harvested and processed each year over their two plants. There’s a gift shop on site where everything is scented, flavoured and/or coloured lavender, the beautiful fields you can stroll around, and a tiny little “distillery” education shed, where you can learn about how the oil is actually made.

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They also operate as a cafe, serving incredibly lavender-inspired and infused cuisine and drinks. Lavender infused fudge and ice creams, lavender panna cotta and pancakes, oysters with lavendar dukkah and lavender relish as a side to the savouries. Drinks, too; I (naturally) ordered a lavender grey for my afternoon tea. They even served it in a lavender coloured tea pot, bless! Also full of gorgeous, bright lavender buds, and the flavour wasn’t anywhere near as overpowering as you might expect.

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We’d stopped off for afternoon tea, so we by-passed the breakfast and lunch offerings, and shared a plate of scones instead. Fresh, soft, fluffy scones. With a side of house-made jam (wow – THAT good!) and lavender infused cream. Everything about it was perfect – the scones were massive and fresh, the cream had the most amazing lavender flavour without being over powering, and it was easy to see why the jams they make win all those awards!

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Isn’t it funny how a stuff up can often lead to a brilliant discovery, if you’re willing to let go of your preconceptions and roll with it?! Couldn’t be happier we found this place! And don’t worry, we got him to the Sullivans Cove Whisky Distillery where he thoroughly enjoyed a whiskey tasting session and left with a bottle of the good stuff 😉

Port Arther Lavender Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shop here: Kookaburra Books & Antiques, Hobart (old books & antiques)

Kookaburra Books & Antiques
113 Hampden Rd, Hobart, Tasmania
https://m.facebook.com/Kookaburra-Books-Antiques-246204455412440/

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With a window full of antique teapots and cups, it would have been just about impossible for this place not to catch my eye. It’s only small, but it is literally FULL of treasures! It had some great antiques and clothing/shoes, but the real pot of gold was the collection of books…

 

I’ve trawled through a LOT of second hand book shops, and I’ve ever before seen a collection that has even come close to rivaling this one. Beautiful books, old books, rare, collectibles, readables… Leather bound, hard back, full collections, just a few… Poetry, classics, history books and old children’s book.

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How I walked out with only two is an absolute miracle (actually, probably more to do with the exorbitant amount Tiger Airways would have charged for excess luggage). If you’re a bookworm, this is an absolute MUST visit in Hobart!