The Biggest: Setagaya Boro-ichi Flea Market

I've written before about used goods in Japan. They just aren't that common. However, the thrift shop movement has grown a bit here, and flea markets have been a part of Japanese culture for a long time. Known as the largest flea market in Japan, the Setagaya Boro flea market is held twice yearly, in mid-December and mid-January. This market dates back to the sixteenth century!
 People from all over Tokyo and Japan come to hunt for bargains. This place is packed!
 Where some flea markets are full of dealers, this one has at least a good selection of people just selling off household goods. As such, there is a lot of variety here.
 That doesn't mean you won't find dealers here. If you're looking for plants, look no further.
 Wooden bowls? There's a shop for that.
 Here's another person selling off some old wares. One booth was arranged by a school PTSA or something similar, and had tons of awesome things.
 This booth had toys. I saw some vintage items that were quite costly, while other people sold stuff at flea market prices.
 A few times, local schools marched their bands down the narrow street. An interesting concept in theory, it just made the crowds that much more crowded.
 If you need a used knife, this guy had you covered.
 Wooden bowls (kine) and pestles (usu) for making Japanese sweets (mochi).
 More wooden goods, with lots of traditional toys.
 I saw at least a dozen dealers set up selling used kimonos. Prices varied but were really inexpensive - definitely under $50 for 99% of the kimonos. Compare that to hundreds or thousands of dollars for a new one.
 One dealer had a lot of these wooden shinto altars for use in Japanese houses. Most households will have one of these (or similar) somewhere in their house.
 I saw some coats, but not much along the lines of clothing. That's a good thing - there are other flea markets packed with clothes. I enjoyed seeing all the old goods instead of clothing.
 Speaking of old goods...
 This "booth" had lots of traditional food. In the foreground is a bunch of nori, or dried seaweed.
 Uncut cards of some kind, but really overpriced.
 One great thing about large outdoor events is the collection of food stalls that accompany them. A couple had peeled boiled potatoes, which were then cut open and covered with butter and other toppings.
 Grilled meat is a common sight.
 I've seen a lot of chocolate covered bananas. Unfortunately, it seems that my body can't handle bananas anymore so I'll have to find another treat.
 Grilled fish of some kind.

I probably could have bought more, but as always funds were limited. I did get quite a few things, though:
 This Tigers jersey was only about $3.
 This three-pack of curry was only $2.
 One person had a ton of Disney pins, and while I could have bought a dozen or more, I only picked out this one from one of my favorite Disney shorts.
 I wanted to find some geta (above) and zori in my size, but was unsuccessful. I did get this pair of geta for only $1.
 I'm always on the lookout for cool trading cards, and I picked up a ton of menko pretty cheap. Most of them are not baseball cards, but that's okay.
 I can't read them, but I did get a bunch of cool comics from a dealer selling them super-cheap.
 I believe I have almost the full set of this baseball-themed comic.
And this tea kettle thing finished off my purchases. As I said, I wanted more, but money doesn't grow on trees. Maybe next year?

The Setagaya Boro-ichi flea market takes place 9 AM to 9 PM on December 15-16 and January 15-16 each year. Access is best via Setagaya or Kamimachi Stations on the small Tokyu Setagaya line. Just follow the crowds south from the stations.

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