If you like antique kimono’s, obi, old jewelry, or Japanese toys from the Showa era, you have to go and visit Japan’s temple and antique markets. Tokyo has several pretty good ones. Best known is probably Oedo Antique Market, which is held monthly at Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho. It is among Japan’s largest open air antique markets.
It was started in 2002 to mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Edo Period (1603-1868) when Japan’s culture bloomed like never before. The organizers intended to bring together dealers offering historical and cultural treasures produced by master artisans during that period. But over the years it has also grown into a popular place for more modern arts and crafts.
Relatively few people know that the market actually has a little sister held at Yoyogi Park. Known as the Yoyogi Oedo Antique Fair, it offers antiques, arts and crafts at a smaller and much friendlier scale, right under the cool trees of Yoyogi Park.
This is one of my favorite antique markets in Tokyo. I like it a lot better than its bigger brother in Yurakucho. It is smaller and the park around it gives it a special ambiance and atmosphere that reminds me a little of the arts and crafts markets of Europe and the US. The cold concrete and glass confines of Tokyo International Forum just can’t compete with that.
Very often, cultural events happen right next door out in the open air of Yoyogi Park’s event plaza. When I visited yesterday, there were countless food stalls and dancing exhibitions on the large stage. The music carries over to the antique fair and gives it a carnivalesque atmosphere.
Probably because of this special atmosphere, it often attracts the kind of artsy and unusual people you don’t see at Tokyo International Forum. So this fair is also a great place for people watching. And while the visitors at Tokyo International Forum tend to be a bit standoffish, many visitors at Yoyogi Oedo Antique Fair are open and ready for a chat.
When the weather cooperates, a few hundred dealers set up on the lane next to NHK Hall. The fair is compact and doesn’t overwhelm. Even when you take your time at every single stand, you can walk through it within an hour or two.
Yoyogi Oedo Antique Fair is held monthly but on changing days, between 9:00 and 16:00. Because of the irregular schedule, make sure to check the organizer’s website to find out the next date.
It is cancelled in case of rain, and doesn’t attract many dealers, or visitors, when there is a lot of wind.