This is part 7 of what is intended to be a collection of overview reports on living in Tokyo by someone who is here for longer than a short stay but shorter than a long stay. Hopefully they will be helpful to others in similar situations.
When I think of Tokyo I have to admit that flea markets are not the first thing that comes to mind. Nor do I think they should be… but it is worth knowing they exist, particularly as they are not very well advertised.
For those with the luck to stumble upon one, though, Tokyo’s flea markets can be excellent places to pick up some relatively reasonably priced household items with a bit more character than equivalently priced items at discount stores. It would be incredible luck to come across one on the very day you go out looking for the initial plates, cups, etc… when you first move in, but you might opt to start out with just what you need and then pick up extras later as you find them. They are also good places to look for used tools – I recently saw a small toolbox full of basic tools like pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, files, hammers, etc.. in usable shape offered at 1500 Yen for the lot.
Most of the flea markets also have a large selection of used clothes; in fact some of them nearly specialize in clothes. Ranging from last month’s hottest fashion to gently used kimonos (and plastic bags of silk pieces cut from used kimonos too damaged to sell whole), they offer cheap additions to seasonal wardrobes and easy to pack souvenirs.
Information about the flea markets seems to change often and I have yet to find a good listing of them, but a starting point is: