Spread alongside the JR Yamanote line, between Ueno and Okachimachi stations, is the grid of narrow congested alleyways known as Ameyoko. This is Tokyo’s premier street market; with its myriad stores, food vendors, candy and fruit stalls and restaurants, the area is a perfect antidote to the ultra cool boutiques of Aoyama and Harajuku and the polished perfection of the city’s many retail shopping plazas and depato.
Tokyo has one of the most diverse retail landscapes on the planet, from its fabled depato and exquisite malls to funky weekend flea markets, quirky boutiques, idiosyncratic retailers and weird specialist stores. Ameya Yokochō, or Ameyoko, アメ横, market is one of the modern city’s more atmospheric and historic shopping destinations, having begun after the war as a black market selling American goods it now boasts hundreds of stores and on weekends especially has all the energy and bustle of any great bazaar.
While all the usual market attractions are there, from exotic food supplies and street side food stalls to a jumble of retail goods, garish displays, extroverted merchants and weekend crowds, Ameyoko is also the site of some cool shopping. Visiting the market is a bit like prospecting for gold, but there are nuggets to be found. We highlight a few to help you on your way.
Lovers of classic American style, denim and workwear could do worse than explore the labyrinth like spaces of Americaya, whose two levels offer some great denim brands such as Samurai, Denime and D’Artisan as well as work and street styling from labels like Schott, Blue Way, Avirex and Spinner Bait.
Americaya is in the central part of the market (in section B5 of the interactive map that follows the link below). There’s a smaller space across the alley from the main store.
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A couple of doors from Americaya, in a corner store, is Nakata Shoten, a compact space full of military clothing, footwear and other paraphernalia that spill onto the narrow market streets. There’s plenty here, from Morgan leather aviator jackets, to Alpha and Spiewak parkas, Bates boots and J-Tech packs, T’s, caps, patches, insignia, goggles and fatigues.
Nakata Shoten is also in section B5 on the interactive map.
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Mita is one of the great secrets of this market. When it comes to sneakers, they have a connoisseur’s eye, presenting some great designs by all the usual suspects: Nike, Converse, adidas, Puma, New Balance, Onitsuka and Patrick among others. Look for Japan only models and limited editions.
Mita Sneakers is on the west side of the market, in the Ameyoko Center Building (section A7 on the interactive map). There’s a stall on the street level and a bigger space upstairs on level 4.
Ameyoko stores are open till around 8 pm, but the market is best enjoyed from late morning to early afternoon – on weekends if you like the atmosphere a crowd brings.