Oedo Antique Market
- What's on Offer
- Market History
- Tokyo International Forum Access
- Hotels Near Tokyo International Forum
Oedo Antique Market, Marunouchi, Tokyo 大江戸骨董市 丸の内 東京
by Johannes Schonherr
Oedo Antique Market, Marunouchi, Tokyo
Oedo Antique Market, Marunouchi, Tokyo
The Oedo Antique Market is Japan's largest outdoor antique market. It usually takes place twice a month under the leafy trees in the courtyard of Tokyo International Forum in the Marunouchi area of central Tokyo. It is close to the lively shopping and drinking Yurakucho area, and near Tokyo Station.
The setting provides quite a contrast: while the Tokyo International Forum is a huge futuristic steel and glass construction, the about 250 dealers constituting the market have their vintage wares spread out on blankets and tables, flea market style.
This is not a flea market, however. The dealers are professional Tokyo antique merchants. They may use all sorts of assorted vintage junk to enliven the appearance of the few square feet they are allotted but they are serious about the items they trade.
Merchant with his wares, Oedo Antique Market, Tokyo
On offer at the Oedo Antique Market, Tokyo
What's on Offer
The range of antique wares on offer is wide. There is of course a lot of tableware and ceramics but from there it spreads off. Vintage film posters, spring-driven wall and alarm clocks, antique prints of ukiyo-e wood block prints, vintage second-hand clothing and much more.
In fact, much of the clothing on offer is not vintage in itself. It is clothing hand-crafted using vintage materials like discarded kimono or noren curtains. The same goes for some of the bags and the jewelry on offer. Young craft people used their imagination and second-hand materials to create something appealing to customers looking for the unusual.
Every item on sale on the market has a price tag attached. These are the prices you pay. There is no haggling, no bargaining at the market. In general, the sound level of the market is very low. No one shouts out their specials, no one does any noisy sales pitches.
The merchants sit quietly next to their wares, decoratively laid out on the sheets or tables constituting their stall. If a potential customer inquires, they patiently explain the special features of the product in question.
Walking through the market, the most often overheard word from those quiet conversations is "mezurashii". Mezurashii translates as "rare".
Vintage clocks at the Oedo Antique Market
Meiji Era kiseru tobacco pipes at the Oedo Antique Market, Tokyo
These rare wares on offer date, however, in the majority no further back than the Showa Period (1926-1989). Vintage model train locomotives and model cars from the period command steep prices.
As does pretty much anything on sale. At this market, you won't find the mythical original Picasso for under 10 bucks as it is said to have been possible at the legendary Parisian flea markets of yore. The sellers know their products and charge accordingly, plus some.
Nonetheless, the market is a gathering spot for connoisseurs who look exactly for what is on offer here. They come in with their own particular knowledge and won't be swayed by just hearing a "mezurashii". They know what's rare by themselves.
Some of the goods of course do date back further than Showa, dating from the Taisho (1912-1926) or Meiji (1868-1912) eras. Original Edo era items are however rarely to be found at the market, despite the market's name: Oedo translates to "Greater Edo". (Edo being the old name for Tokyo up until the Meiji Period).
Weapon sales are very restricted in Japan. Thus, you won't find a samurai sword or the like on the market. But with a bit of luck, you might find the curious but efficient weapon commonly used by Edo Era police: the Jutte.
Jutte were two-pronged iron contraptions with which the police officer could snatch the sword out of the hands of a violent criminal. Jutte could also be used as a baton or as a hook to grab a criminal by his clothing. Jutte (十手) translates as "10 hands". Edo Period police officers found multiple ways for the use of this easy tool. The skillful use of the jutte is often described in the Inspector Hanshichi detective stories, set in late Edo.
Large crowd at the Oedo Antique Market
Jutte - weapons carried by Edo era police officers - on sale at the Oedo Antique Market
The Oedo Antique Market dates back to September 2003. Originally it was part of a larger festival celebrating the 400th anniversary of the start of Edo Japan. Proving successful, the market has been continuously run since then by the Oedo Antique City Executive Committee, sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Tourism and supported by Tokyo International Forum.
Since 2012, slightly smaller editions of the market are also held on irregular dates at Yoyogi Park.
Tokyo International Forum Access
Tokyo International Forum is located close to Yurakucho Station (just a 1 minute walk) on the the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line of Tokyo Metro or the JR Yamanote Line. Follow the signs pointing towards Tokyo International Forum.
The market is also in short walking distance from Tokyo Station (about a 5 minute walk).
Nearby Tokyo International Forum are the Tokia complex in the Tokyo Building, with four floors of dining, and the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum.
The free Marunouchi Shuttle Bus stops in front of the nearby Shin Kokusai Building.
Address: Tokyo International Forum
5-1 Marunouchi 3-chome
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005
Tel: 03 6407 6011
Generally, the market takes place every first and third Sunday of the month at Tokyo International Forum.
Holidays however occasionally force the organizers to alter the schedule. Please check the website below for details.
In case of rain, the market will be closed.
Opening times: 9 am to 4 pm
At irregular dates, the market is also held at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. The market website announces those dates.
Market website in English www.antique-market.jp
Hotels near Tokyo International Forum
The Yurakucho area is a good place to base yourself on any stay in Tokyo being only one stop south from Tokyo Station on the Yamanote Line.
Choose from a number of good value accommodations in Yurakucho including the 5-star Peninsula Tokyo, the 3-star Tokyo Yaesu Hotel, the Hotel Unizo Ginza Itchome and the Remm Hibiya.
Oedo Antique Market
Book Hotel Accommodation in Tokyo Japan near Tokyo International Forum
Oedo Antique Market: the Oedo Antique Market takes place twice a month at Tokyo International Forum near Tokyo Station. It is Japan's largest outdoor antique market.