There are many things to see and experience in Japan. The vastness of options are so great that some tourists and locals may even find it as a problem because there are too many places to choose from. The best thing you can do is prepare a list of places you may want to see depending on your mood on that day you decide to travel around Japan. It can be the multiple museums found in Japan or even the hip area of Shinjuku. If by any chance, you will be looking around the Tokyo area then you shouldn’t leave the famous Japanese street market known as the Ameya Yokocho off the list.
A Bit of History of Ameya Yokocho Market
Japan has gone through several changes throughout its time in existence. This can be seen with the numerous ruins that can be found all over Japan. Wars created some of these ruins and historic landmarks and it was also because of wars that these places died. The street of Ameya Yokocho can be categorized to fall under this iconic places that are heavily tied with war but unlike the rest, the Ameya Yokocho found a way to survive even after the war, specifically World War II.
Ameya Yokocho’s name has two stories to it. The first is that it is named as such because of the incredible amount of sweets and candies you can buy here and have been able to buy here since it started. You see, “ame” in Japanese means candy hence “Ameya”. The other story is that it was named as such because it used to be the place where you could find the American black market during and after the time of World War II. Supplies and other goods from and for soldiers were found and traded here and this version of the story implied that the “ame” wasn’t for candy but for “America”. In any case, these facts were true before but nowadays, it is a place that sells delicious candies and other non-war related goodies and merchandise.
Ameya Yokocho isn’t actually the name of the street that this “market” is on. It pertains to the shopping center that stretches from the Ueno Station to the Okachimachi Station. Due to the attention that the stores here get, it might as well be officially called Ameya Yokocho or Ameyoko because it’s the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about this part of Ueno. To be specific though, it is found in Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo-to.
It used to be contained within the stations but the number of shops in this shopping center has reached over 400 so it naturally expanded its area to accommodate the new stores that came in to join the party here. This is all good news because you can travel here through a quick commute and since it is very near a couple of stations, you won’t need a guide to get around or have to walk absurd distances carrying all the stuff you bought on the way home. You won’t even need to be staying in a hotel nearby because these stations are accessible through the JR Yamanote Line as well as the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line. You may also opt to try the Ueno-Okachimachi Station that can be accessed through the Oedo Subway Line. From any of these two locations, the walk to Ameyoko should be, at most, 5 minutes.
The Opening and Operating Hours of Ameya Yokocho Market and the Types of Stores You Can Find Here
Since the stores found here are individually owned most of the time, the opening and operating hours of certain stores may vary from one another. it is always great to be early when shopping but you wouldn’t want to waste your time waiting for stores to open so a good time to be going to Ameyoko would be around 10 o’clock in the morning because that is when almost all stores are open already. Again, the closing time of certain stores may vary from others but ideally, these stores close at around 8 o’clock at night. Having 10 hours in a place like Ameyoko can be just right considering the number of shops you can go to as well as the number of cuisines you can try as you explore its vast area.
If you are a tourist in Tokyo, you should know that spending a day in Ameya Yokocho can be quite the adventure. As mentioned earlier, it was a prime trading spot during the World War II era so you can certainly find interesting pre and post-war trinkets in some stores here if that is the type of thing you are into. If a unique food trip is what you are looking for, Ameyoko offers a variety of street food stalls as well as quality restaurants for you to dine in to refuel or even get drunk in with friends. It has been mentioned earlier that there is an abundance of candy to be found here too but in addition to that, this street market also offers some of the freshest fruits and seafood you can find in Ueno and maybe even Tokyo. The best part about buying stuff like that here is that is it a lot cheaper compared to the other places in Tokyo you can buy fresh fruits and seafood at great quality.
These aren’t the only things you can find in Ameyoko. You’ll surely find a ton of stores that sell all kinds of clothing as well as cosmetics. You’ll find so many stores selling different apparel and brands that you might feel like you’re in Singapore or the shopping district of Hong Kong with the variety you can find here. If you’re a shopaholic and even if you aren’t, you will surely enjoy seeing the things they sell here, not only because of the variety but also because of the prices and quality of their products.
Japan Travel Tips When Shopping in Ameya Yokocho for Food or Any Other Goods
Going through 400 shops in search of things you may or may not be looking for can be fun but it is also definitely tiring. For people who have gone here more than once, this is advisable but if it’s going to be your first time here, there are some things that you won’t want to miss out on. As mentioned earlier, you can find all kinds of things being sold in Ameyoko including candies and there is a shop in Ameyoko that will give you a bargain on sweets like none other in Japan.
This shop or stall is none other than the Shimura Shoten. This shop in Ameyoko is a chocolate store and it is even visited by people who have no intention of buying chocolates. This is because how they sell their goods is seen by a great performance by both tourists and locals. They created a selling system that attracts both definite chocolate buyers as well as those who are just casually looking for what’s good to buy in the area and they did so by making it feel like an auction. The famous event starts with the staff shouting “1000 yen!” over and over again. Once this begins, they start filling bags with a crazy amount of chocolates which you can buy for 1000 yen. They make all kinds of noise that make it so entertaining to watch and if you are a chocolate lover, you should definitely buy their bags because for the 1000 JPY that you’ll spend for it, you’ll get about 2500 JPY worth of delicious chocolates.
Clothing will always be something sold in places like this and amongst all the places you can choose to buy from, there is one in Ameya Yokocho that certainly stands out from the rest. This store is none other than the London Sports. As its name suggests, this store sells sporting gear and apparel. All over the world, you will find stores that sell this kind of products but some of these products are known to be fake. In the case of London Sports, you are assured that the branded sporting gears sold here are authentic but not the latest things you can buy in the market. There have been no reports on this claim being fake so you can feel a little more at ease knowing that the products in this store are trusted by buyers and the market.
In exchange for the outdated selection of different sporting gears and apparels, most, if not all, their products are sold at extremely discounted prices. You won’t just find Nike jerseys and shoes sold at 30 %. You’ll be able to find those type of branded gear for 70% off or maybe even 80% off if you’re lucky. Despite being from outdated selections, the fact that these branded gear are authentic makes every single one a definite bargain for the price and quality. Imagine finding a pair of Kobe II’s in great condition and sold for 70% off. You would have to be crazy to pass up on such an opportunity. In addition to the insane discounts you can get here, if you shop here again, you might be able to add more to your savings because London Sports offers membership cards that add around a 10% discount on top of the discounts that the item you are interested in already has. With discounts like these, it is highly possible to find yourself buying things you never thought you needed and it would still feel like every penny or yen is worth it.
All the food in this area is great but, like the other stores mentioned above, there are certain restaurants and food stalls that have been able to elevate their game and be more known than the other restaurants and food stalls. A perfect example of such a place is Menchi and Croquettes. This place is managed by a meat wholesaler and they do not only sell raw meat but also deliciously cook meat too. Almost everything on their menu is great but you shouldn’t miss the chance to taste their Yamitsuki Menchi sold for 130 yen as well as their Yamitsuke Croquette sold for 60 yen.
Another example of a food stall that stands out is the Takoyaki store known as Nanchan. In this store, you can buy 6 pieces of huge and tasty takoyaki for only 250 yen or 12 pieces for 500 yen. Since Ueno is a place where there are a lot of places that make and sell yakiniku or grilled meat, it is only natural that Ameyoko would have its share of great places for grilled meat. There is a lot in this area but one stands out among the rest because there is a dish called the Tokusei Gyusuji Curry sold at a restaurant called Ueno Taisho-en that cannot be bought anywhere else in Japan. Any type of food with that description should certainly be tried by tourists because opportunities like that don’t come along often.
With all this said, there is no denying that Ameya Yokocho or Ameyoko is a great place to go to for shopping and eating in Tokyo. Some might even start calling it the national shopping center in Tokyo considering all the things mentioned above. You can check out reviews, forums, and content about this place in other sources and it will still tell you that the quality of all products here is great. This great quality is made even better if you consider the prices they are sold at. There are many more amazing stores and stalls to be found here and new stores come up every now and then too so the popularity and growth of this place will always be there. All that is left to do now is for you to book the train ticket to any of the stations mentioned above and read up on other things you might want to specifically look for there to save time. You should also stretch before possibly the most intense shopping spree of your life. Vacations are not all rest and this is a perfect destination for the portions of your vacation that do not involve rest.