When visiting Japan for a limited number of days, it's natural to want to see all the landmarks like Asakusa Temple to visit the historical part of Tokyo, Harajuku for shopping and culture, Tokyo Tower to see the view, ...etc and before you know it its time to go to Kyoto and Osaka! However, sometimes its nice to escape from your busy schedule and take a few hours to stroll around the many free admission markets that exist on the weekends right in the center of Tokyo. It'll rewind you from looking up at all the tall skyscrapers, and be a nice chance to emerge into a friendly atmosphere where you can get some inspiration from local artists, and talk directly with the artisans to hear about their inspirations too!
1. The Farmer's Market at United Nations University
The most central and concise market you will find in Tokyo, if you want to spend just an hour or so getting to know what's trending in Tokyo. Every weekend they have a different theme whether its
"Tokyo Coffee Festival" "Craft Bakeries" or "Tokyo Craft Market", but will also always have your local farmers selling organic vegetables and juicy fruits, as well as food trucks selling fresh juice and a variety of meals you can have on the tables outside like obento, curry, or baked goods.
It's an easy trip in between checking out Meiji Jingu shrine, shopping along Omotesando, and walking the busy crosswalk of Shibuya! You can check out on their facebook page what event is going on the weekend you are visiting :)
2. Akasaka Nominoichi (Flea Market) in Ark Hills
This market which takes place on the outdoor area of a shopping mall called Ark Hills directly connected to Roppongi Icchoume station, has a good balance of vintage clothes vendors as well as emerging artists and artisans. I specifically like talking to some of the artists who have interesting pieces such as accessories made from Japanese washi paper and lacquer, or ceramics with a magical mix of sweet and provocative designs!
A good place to start your day before grabbing lunch and heading to Roppongi to do some shopping or visit any of the following museums: Mori Art Museum, 21_21 Design Sight museum, National Art Center, and/or Suntory Museum of Art.
3. Oedo Kottoichi (Antique Market) in Yoyogi Park/Yurakucho
The largest outdoor antique market in Tokyo, held at the Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho twice a month, as well as ar Yoyogi Park irregularly. If you're looking specifically for Japanese antiques that you can take home as a souvenir, I suggest this would be the best market to go to! The vendors who participate in this market come from all over Japan selling everything from small nicknacks to decorate your table with, kimonos, vintage Japanese store signs, to old paulownia chest of drawers (kiri tansu).
Yurakucho is minutes away from Ginza, famous for the shopping district with luxury fashion brands, as well as being the home to flagship store of Ginza Itoya, the 100 year old stationary shop!