Tokyo’s Black Market: Ameyoko Arcade

After visiting the Tokyo National Museum, we returned to Ameyoko Arcade on our way back to the Metro. What a difference a few hours made; the sleepy serpentine lanes were now teeming with life and plenty of shoppers. We've yet to see things get raucous in Japan, but this is probably the closest we'll get (other than trying to take the subway during rush hour!).

Although we’ve noticed that Japanese vendors, shopkeepers and waitstaff tend toward the verbose (regardless of whether you understand them or not), Ameyoko Arcade takes their normal patter and ratchets it up to 11. Vendors loudly call out to passersby as they attempt to attract individuals into their shops on whom they can flog their wares.

If you’ve decided that Tsukiji Fish Market isn’t your thing, you might try Ameyoko instead. The atmosphere is similar, but you won’t feel at all out of place browsing and taking your time as the sheer volume of merchandise is incredible. Whether you’re looking for shoes, seafood, cosmetics, purses, golf clubs, toys… you name it, and someone in Ameyoko is bound to have it. Legend has it that the “Ame” in Ameyoko refers to America, because after WWII, this is where people would shop to buy black market goods. Today, we’re sure you can still find some contraband goods should you search for them, but as far as we could tell, the market today has a good range of both U.S. and Asian name-brand merchandise (as well as some knockoffs) at really competitive prices. We contented ourselves to simply browsing (except for the sweat rag!), but if we lived in Tokyo, this would definitely be where we shopped!

Check out our video and pictures below to get a taste of Ameyoko Arcade:

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