I am a complete lover of all things market (what is that, a marketista?). Vintage goods that come with a story and the chance to wander and chat with the sellers. Our little Unwrapped spy had told us the Oi Racecourse Flea Market was one of the biggest in Tokyo, held outside the most popular districts but well worth a visit.
With open roofs and sellers perched on the floor, the flea market itself was a fantastic flurry of atmosphere. Luckily we arrived early as sellers start packing away their goods and blankets around 2pm. There were endless rows of stalls, all selling a complete mix of used goodies: clothes, books, anime, vintage collectables, cookware, figurines, electronics and toys – with prices all in the eye of the beholder! Not only this, but we ended up chatting to seller after seller, with them wanting to find out where we were from and welcome us to Tokyo. Unlike many other markets around the world and perhaps the city itself, it felt entirely genuine and I think is reward for going a little outside of the city centre.
The place itself was beautiful, sunlight shining through the gaps in the railing slits that make up the roof. Understandably, heavy rains mean the market won’t be on, as a word of warning to those setting off from the central districts.
I absolutely loved some of the random items for sale. We ended up buying the aubergine book pictured above next to James – I mean, where else would you see a woman dressed up as an aubergine as a front cover? The lovely lady could’ve named her price, because that one had to be mine. And probably the strangest thing of all is that the book itself is an entertaining read, full of random outfits, comic strips and music reviews. I actually loved the book so much that I researched into the writer Kyoko Koizumi, a famous Japanese singer and actress and we spent one night watching one of her psychological thriller movies(!).
As expected, you will find some food vendors just outside the market. One regret is that even with an early start, we were still too late for the popular stalls and were left with the taste of nothing but rumours and delicious hearsay on our tastebuds, and hot dog that doesn’t merit further attention or discussion.
A fair trek on the train or taxi ride away from the central parts of this thrilling city, the flea market gives you a peak into some Japanese popular culture trends of yesteryear.
Tips and tricks
Arrive early, bring cash and an open mind.
Katy Hulands is a travel and lifestyle blogger and social media consultant for the hospitality sector. She started the Unwrapped Series to uncover those special places (and things) that deserve the spotlight.