It is a well known fact that Japan is a country of old people. It is also relatively known that Japanese tend to show love and respect towards their possessions, and they don’t like to throw things away, especially if these items are kimono or traditional decorations. These two phenomena combined create the perfect environment for a second-hand economy to prosper. At some weekends of the year, you might come across regularly held flea markets or antique markets in the middle of the city. There are big ones that are held semiannually, like Setagaya’s Boro-ichi and others that are held more often like Oedo antique market. Today I visited the latter, a fitting pastime for a sunny day.
Oedo market is currently taking place at the outdoor plaza of Tokyo International Forum, downtown next to Tokyo station. This will continue until May, when the venue will be used for the Paralympics. Today was an extra day added to the usual schedule, which usually includes the first and third Sunday of each month. Although the market is open-air, the organizers had taken anti-covid measures, by implementing temperature checks and installing alcohol dispensers at the entrance.
In the market there are a lot of different vendors, some of them selling antiques, others selling also handmade art. Several goods could be considered of questionable origin, such as military caps from World War II or religious objects belonging to monks. There was a wide variety of elegant kimono, obi and fancy hairpieces at surprisingly low prices. I saw a goth-geisha with a bag full of spikes and a purple-black kimono looking for the perfect piece of zori sandals to complete her outfit. Someone was selling broken pieces of ceramics for people who want to practice kintsugi, the art of repairing cookware using gold.
There were decorative sets of samurai helmets and long katanas, as well as other more violent looking swords and blades. Surprisingly, I found no shuriken ninja stars like I did in Yokosuka last time, I guess samurai are more popular in Oedo. If you are looking for porcelain pots and plates or a traditional wooden set for japanese sweets, you are at the right place. Paintings, old posters, photos violently removed from photo albums, soldiers’ notebooks, any kind of memorabilia is easy to find here. Of course, there a lot of imported antiques related to the two protagonists of the Cold War, namely Russia and the U.S. While most of the items have appropriate prices, there are a lot of extremely valuable objects, with price ranges going as high as $50.000. Not bad for an open market at the middle of the city, right?
I left the market with two head pieces appropriate for when wearing a kimono, and a couple of old photographs. Since I got 3 bulky nihonningyo dolls recently, I don’t have any space left to put -let’s say- a samurai hat. Still, I am thinking of going again in March to try to find a new tea pot, since I clumsily broke my current one, and match it with a set of cups.
These days, around the end of winter-start of spring, are the clearest you can get in Tokyo. For this reason, we decided with my friend to walk towards Tokyo station and then the east gardens of the palace. If you think about it, it is amazing that you get to have so much open view, free of tall buildings, in the heart of downtown. One of the perks of being an emperor, I guess.
Although we walked all the way to the garden entrance, it was closed as a counter-measure for covid19 during the emergency period. So we changed course and walked to Hibiya park, that was accessible as usual.
In Hibiya park the ume trees were getting close to full bloom. A couple of people were doing photoshoots of cute girls standing next to the pretty flowers. I got the japanese specialty strawberry shortcake at a terrace café, accompanied by hot sangria. It was a lazy day walking around, much needed to refresh my spirit after the stress of the past months. Ah, I miss greek sun.