At every city that I visit, I always love to drop by at the local markets. This is because I find that shopping and browsing at local markets to be far more interesting than shopping at typically nondescript supermarkets, which are not particularly inspiring replicas of one another, and not too different from what you can find back home.
Indeed, I do enjoy poking around, taking in the sights, hearing the sounds and breathing in the smells of the markets. By observing what the locals buy and eat, you get a sense of their culture and their wonderful lifestyle-a slice of life, as it were!
If you’re like me, and enjoy visiting markets, don’t miss the Ameyoko Wholesale Market at Ueno district, which is located on the street covering the area from the JR Ueno Station to Okachimachi Station. It is not at all messy or smelly and was overall a very pleasant experience, with dried goods, fresh fruits, clothing, fresh seafood, sashimi, sliced fruits available for sale.
What to look out for:
Wooden Blocks of tuna (not sure what this is for or how you cook it!)
Dried seaweed, I especially liked the slightly spicy variety
(Some seaweed is from Korea, not from Japan. You need to check the packaging.)
Snacks eg. savoury rice crackers, rice crackers with wasabe flavouring
No bargaining is necessary, although some traders may throw in some free samples if you buy more.
JR Ueno/Okachimachi Station,
Keisei Ueno Station on Keisei Line
Not far from Asakusa, there is a little shopping area beneath the Yamanote Loop Line. It is the Ameya Yokocho Food and Flea Market. I was actually tipped off to this place by a relative who knew it as a black market during WWII. It is still a little shady, and is more known for Ginsing and Candy sales than anything else.
But today they sell everything from handbags to fish and a lot of things in between. I used to buy these really great Japanese pickles to take back to the hotel for part of my dinner. I also found that produce could be bargained for, where you couldn't do that in a normal market.
Got some great buys, later in the afternoon. Shops are closed on Wednesdays (odd) and the place is a madhouse during commuter times.
Easy to find, right near the Yamanote Loop Train line station in Ueno near Askusa.