One thing I regret about this past year is the amount of time it took me to discover my neighborhood flea market. It had been going on once a month right under my nose for 6 months, and I didn’t catch on until I happened to spot an ad in the local Yamaguchi City community paper, Hoppu, at the end of February. I headed out one sunny March morning to see what I’d been missing, not really expecting to find much, but instead discovered stall upon stall, tent after tent, shops set up on blankets on the side of the road, food vendors and fruit markets, all packed into a little park near my apartment. There must have been hundreds of booths, and a large crowd of shoppers. Now if only I had found this earlier. I set in.
This flea market (which I later found out is called the Yamaguchi Flea Market, held on the first Sunday of every month) had everything you could hope for in a flea market. There were your typical displays of chinaware, plates, cups, bowls and dishes. Old wooden frames and vintage coca-cola ads. Accordions and typewriters and an old black Singer sewing machine. Records, stained glass windows, and an assortment of wooden figurines. Used clothing, vintage clothing, handmade clothing, shoes and bags and jewelry. Beads and buttons and old sword accessories. Teapots and kimono, fried croquettes and huge bags of oranges. An old man selling antique gramophones toward the center of the park, a group of 20-somethings set up on the road at the edge of the park with a pile of clothes on a blanket, marked at 50 to 100 yen. Trinkets, stuffed animals, old telephones and an aged Dunkin Donuts mug going for 10,000 yen. The first time through I found a great spring dress and a gift for a friend； the second time I left empty-handed, but I plan to be back next month, and the next, hunting through the stacks.
Flea markets have become increasingly popular all over Japan in the past few years, and it’s worth seeking one out in your area. Listings often appear in local community papers and newsletters—look for the word フリーマーケット or フリマ. Flea markets in Yamaguchi are often held once a month on weekends, although in some areas they are held as special events only once or twice a year. In larger cities, such as Tokyo, some flea market may be held on a weekly basis. For those that can’t make it out to one, or who can’t get enough, there are also many online flea markets selling everything from clothing and furniture to electronics, tickets, music, sporting goods and more.
Yamaguchi Flea Market (山口フリーマーケット骨董市) (http://www.oidemase.com)
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Yamaguchi Flea Market takes place on the first Sunday of every month, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from antiques to paintings to used clothing and food.
Date: First Sunday of every month (4/1, 5/6, 6/3…)
Time: Sunrise ～15:00
Location: Kameyama Park Fureai Square (亀山公園ふれあい広場) (across from the Yamaguchi Prefectural Musem of Art)
Hakozaki-gu Shrine Antiques & Flea Market
Date: 4/22 (Sun), 5/6 (Sun)
Location: Hakozakigu Sando (Hakozaki-miya mae stop on the subway)
Date: Every weekend, Saturday and Sunday
Location: Next to the TNC Building (Fukuoka Tower South Exit bus stop)
Date: 4/22 (Sun), 5/27 (Sun)
Location: Marinoa City by the Ferris wheel (Marinoa City bus stop)
WAKUWAKU Flea Market in Yahoo! Dome
Date: 4/28 (Sat)～4/30 (Mon/holiday)
Location: Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome (Kokusai Center Sunpalace Mae bus stop)
For flea market lovers, a detailed site with flea market listings from around the country: http://www2j.biglobe.ne.jp/~tatuta/
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