If you are in Tokyo and looking for a lively market to shop and eat, then Ameyoko is one of the best places to visit. With many outdoor stores and restaurants, it is surprisingly accessible in its own way.
If you happen to be sightseeing in nearby Asakusa, Ueno Park, or Tokyo National Museum and want to do some shopping, Ameyoko is the place to look for a good deal. Ameyoko is a market streetway hosting many outdoor and indoor shops. This area has a curious start as a location that served as a black market for American goods in Post-World War II, as well as a popular location to purchase candy treats. This has led to some speculation on the origin of the name Ameyoko because “Ame” is both the Japanese word for “candy” and the beginning of “America.” The truth in this isn’t clear, but we like to think it may have been both, using a fun play on words.
While it could be possible to still find American goods here, it would hardly be illegal. However, do expect to find candy still sold throughout this location, but it is far from the only thing for sale here.
There are numerous, and often discounted, items for sale throughout the year. Some items may be seasonal, but many typical items sold here including: health foods, confectionery, specialty sweets, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals (everything from heating pads to over the counter medicines), home supplies, furniture, décor, high-quality watches, a multitude of souvenirs, goods from other countries surrounding Japan, and much more that may include specialty goods only found in Ameyoko. This makes Ameyoko a good place to shop for several reasons and can be great if you are thinking of bringing a hodgepodge of unique goods home to share with friends and family.
As you may expect from individual store, opening hours vary, however typical opening hours fall between 10:00am and 8:00pm.
Ameyoko can be reached from Ueno Station (Six JR Lines: Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Yamanote Line, Utsunomiya Line, Takasaki Line, Jōban Line, Ueno–Tokyo Line, or Two Subway Lines: Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, as well as multiple Shinkansen/Bullet trains to various locations) using the Central Gate Exit, from there it’s just a 3-minute stroll south. Alternatively, the opposite end of Ameyoko is just short stroll from Ueno-Okachimachi Station (Oedo Subway Line). Both are wheelchair accessible, but Ueno has more transit options (as well as its own shopping and dining options).
Full of life and action, Ameyoko is of course also full of people. While this might be invigorating to some, others may find that the crowds can be overwhelming. If this is the case, there are still many interesting places to explore on side streets that are a little calmer and have fewer people to avoid. Unfortunately, there are no tactile blocks are available on the streets.
While it is likely impossible for those with mobility devices to access the main parts of most stores, the area is more of a market and wares spill out of stores and onto stalls in the street. These are much easier to browse and for products out of reach, staff are more than willing to help out in hopes of a sale.
While many areas in Japan have very few accessible restaurants, once again the market atmosphere of Ameyoko is beneficial for those in wheelchairs and scooters as there are many restaurants and izakaya that offer street seating.
There aren’t any toilets at the market itself, so it is likely best to make use of the accessible toilets available at the train or subway station.
The fun market atmosphere and surprising accessibility of stores and restaurants spilling out onto the street make Ameyoko a fun place to visit especially if you are planning on visiting Ueno Park. Crowds can be avoided, but since there are no accessible toilets it may be best to use the train station toilet before visiting.
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