Best Food Markets in Tokyo: Seafood, Souvenirs, and Street Food
Best Food Markets in Tokyo: Seafood, Souvenirs, and Street Food
Tokyo has so many things to see and do, from glitzy shopping in Ginza to nailing that group shot in front of the Tokyo Skytree. Sometimes overshadowed by the sea of skyscrapers, there’s also a number of food markets in Tokyo where you can discover some of the city’s best street food and local produce. Why not hit two birds with one stone, and shop for souvenirs while snacking along the way?
Head to one of these food markets in Tokyo and grab a crazy deal on the freshest seafood, scope out the cheesiest obligatory keychain, then buy some locally-grown fruit directly from the farmer. Or, perhaps try a new snack you’ve never seen before? Some of the best food markets in Tokyo are just waiting to be explored, find out which markets to check out here.
1. Ameya Yokocho, Ueno
Running between the Ueno and Okachimachi JR stations, Ameya Yokocho is one of the biggest permanent markets in Tokyo. Shortened to simply “Ameyoko” by locals, Ameyoko originally serviced Tokyo as a busy black market after World War II. It has since become a regular market street, now a popular location for shopping and eating food. Locals will go and grab some fresh fish and pickles, while tourists will detour on the way to the zoo in Ueno Park, or en route to one of the popular museums in the area. Stalls, of course, sell the expected sunglasses, bags, and shoes, but in terms of food, they’ve also got just about everything: Japanese wagashi sweets, fresh fish, and unusual snacks. Grab souvenir foods at a great price, then hunker down over a tasty seafood donburi rice bowl at one of the street market restaurants. Ameyoko has the right kind of bustling atmosphere, promising that you’ll get a good deal on something. There are plenty of places to eat in the neighboring streets, too.
2. United Nations University Farmers Markets, Shibuya
The United Nations University Farmer’s Market is one of the best food markets in Toyko, held as a regular event during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. This Farmer’s Market at UNU is one of the longest running markets in Tokyo, featuring stalls full of local produce that’s grown by farmers in the greater Tokyo area. It’s incredibly popular, with not only fruit and vegetables but handmade products too. You can shake hands with the friendly person who produced the organic oranges, then grab an espresso coffee or a wholesome snack from one of the food vans on site. You can’t miss it, it’s held in at the front of the university building, a short walk between Shibuya and Omotesando. Only a 15-minute walk away, the ever-buzzing Takeshita Street in Harajuku offers a sensory overload of color, cuteness, and street food galore to contrast the relaxed UNU Farmer’s Market vibe.
3. Tsukiji Outer Market, Tsukiji
Sadly, the legendary inner market of Tsukiji closed its doors in 2018, despite great resistance with a number of protests. Fortunately, Tsukiji Outer Market remains standing, and despite the main market moving to Toyosu, the outer market of Tsukiji still offers a killer feed, maintaining its charming air where chaos meets hard work. It’s a mix of nostalgic market stalls selling all kinds of dried, fishy condiments, intermingled with restaurants. Some are a bit makeshift while others are more established, but delicious nonetheless. This is certainly the opportunity to eat amazingly fresh seafood, from a sit down special of hand-rolled sushi, to some freshly made onigiri rice balls to-go, or maybe try an unusual fish cake snack on a stick? With some of the bigger restaurants in the area even open 24-hours, a seafood fix in Tsukiji Market isn’t hard to get.
4. Toyosu Wholesale Fish Market, Toyosu
The successor to the famous Tsukiji Market, Toyosu Wholesale Fish Market opened in October 2018 and now serves as the main wholesale market for seafood in Tokyo. Double the size of Tsukiji Market, Toyosu’s market has managed to maintain the status of being the biggest fish market in the world. You can see the tuna auction early in the morning between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. from the observation deck, then explore the massive market that spans across three buildings: two for fresh seafood and one selling fruit and vegetables. While it doesn’t have a long legacy like Tsukiji Fish Market did, Toyosu is certainly worth the visit to experience this logistical marvel, and of course to eat some amazing seafood. The 4th-floor hosts over one hundred shops and restaurants, while others are dedicated to selling high-quality kitchen utensils, fresh produce, and incredible fish.
5. Earth Day Market, Yoyogi
This Earth Day Market event is popular in Tokyo for those who want to support sustainable living and eco-friendly eating. Keeping the health of our planet in mind, Earth Day was conceived in the US during the 1970s to shine a light on global environmental issues. Tokyo has regularly hosted this massive Earth Day Market for a number of years now, where eco-conscious folks gather together selling organic produce that’s preferably local, with fair trade options available too. You can try some traditional foods made from local ingredients or handmade snacks, as well as different foods of the world. This big event occurs roughly monthly, with approximately 50 stalls set up on the stretch between Shibuya and Yoyogi Park.
6. Market of the Sun, Kachidoki
Market of the Sun or Taiyou no Marche is considered the largest farmer’s market in Tokyo, hosting over one hundred vendors gathered in Kachidoki on the second weekend of every month. This market features over 50 different types of fruits and vegetables both grown locally and outside Japan, with each month spotlighting a particular seasonal fruit or vegetable, or otherwise some kind of specialty food. Not only fresh produce, this market sells local products like teas and handmade art and crafts, while also offering different educational workshops about harvesting and farming. It’s located a 15-minute walk away from Tsukiji Market, convenient to get your fishy fix if one of the many food vans onsite serving both Japanese and international cuisines don’t suit your fancy.
7. Nakamise Dori, Asakusa
You’ll find Nakamise Dori on the lead up to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, a traditional shopping street that’s 250 meters long. Colorful stalls line the street, selling all kinds of food and souvenirs, where with its market-style set up you can enjoy eating and walking (“tabearuki”). Alongside all kinds of usual souvenirs, you can try senbei rice crackers, traditional candies and mochi rice cakes, as well as cones of soft serve ice cream in every color and flavor. The undercover arcade in the area nearby Nakamise Dori has a lot of souvenirs, snacks, and restaurants too. You can’t go wrong with a taiyaki fish-shaped cake with a custard or azuki red bean, or an enormous, freshly baked melon pan (a round, sugar cookie-crusted bread in the shape of a melon). As Asakusa is the most visited tourist attraction in Tokyo, it’s likely you’ll find time to explore this market street en route to Sensoji Temple!
8. Tokyu Food Show, Shibuya
Deep within the bowels of Shibuya’s Tokyu Department Store lies a famous depachika called Tokyu Food Show. Depachika is a portmanteau of the words “department store” and “chika,” meaning underground or basement, and refers to an underground food hall. These are common throughout Japan, but the Tokyu Foodshow food hall is particularly well known for its enormous size and easy access to busy Shibuya. Brave the crowds and feast your eyes on an unbelievable amount of small shop fronts, specializing in every style of cuisine and dessert you could ever imagine. From sushi and wagyu beef to Indian curry or deep fried who-knows-what, there are glorious piles of food both Japanese and international everywhere, and (if you’re lucky) free samples! You can pick out individual dishes or pieces, or else grab a bento that’s already been boxed up. Geared towards takeaway, there aren’t really any places to sit down and eat, so it’s best to take your lunch off to Yoyogi Park and enjoy it on the grass.
As it’s attached to the east side of Shibuya Station, there are a number of entry points and different areas so be warned, it’s easy to get lost! Although it’s not nearly as glamorous, however, some Don Quijote or “Donki” mega stores also have a downstairs food floor. Here they sell not only an array of crazy snacks but cheap bento lunch boxes for a reasonable price, alongside groceries like fruit and vegetables. While the set up of a Donki store is overwhelming, the food section in comparison to the Tokyu Food Show is much more subdued (and less lavish, but cheaper).
9. Other Markets
Some other wonderful farmers markets in Tokyo include the Yurakucho Market (Saturdays and Sundays), the Ebisu Marche (Sundays), Hills Marche Farmer’s Market in Akasaka (Saturdays), and the Green Market held in Sumida (usually the first weekend of every month). Each with a number of stalls, these markets focus on fresh and organic produce, but also sell handmade crafts and hot foods.
While they are not explicitly markets, the shotengai shopping streets in the nostalgic Yanaka Ginza area is worth a stroll, as well as the uncovered 1.3 kilometer long shopping street in Togoshi Ginza. (Note: Despite having similar names and an abundance of street foods and souvenirs, Yanaka Ginza and Togoshi Ginza are quite far from each other in the city!) Tokyo also hosts a number of flea markets if you want to hunt for bargains on clothes and antiques, with different days and locations rotating regularly.
Explore the best food markets in Tokyo while discovering the city’s tastiest street food. From local, organic produce to incredibly fresh seafood, markets make a great destination on a sunny day. Experience the friendly smiles of the local vendors while snacking and shopping at the best food markets in Tokyo. Enjoy the many delicious options at one of Tokyo’s many food markets!
Article from Tokyo by Food.
Tokyo by Food is a platform for food events in Tokyo, with over 80 experiences to choose from and a fantastic resource for learning about Japan’s thriving food culture! What’s more, Tokyo by Food runs a charitable outreach program, the Food for Happiness Project, which donates 10 meals to children in Cambodia for each person who books a food event through our platform!
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