Okachimachi means no disrespect.
Okachimachi translates directly to “respectfully walking town.” But what you’ll find today is quite the opposite of what the namesake might imply.
The Okachimachi station area is a unique shopping hub full of scurrying Japanese shoppers and foreign tourists, and its streets are routinely some of the most packed areas day or night.
Visitors often think of this area as being part of the more well-known Ueno, but it really has its own identity.
It is home to the world-famous Ameya-yokocho (Candy Alley), an open-air street market that runs along the train tracks between Ueno and Okachimachi stations. There, you’ll find a loud and lively market street that started life as a post-war black market, selling objects left behind by the American military.
It consists of the main shopping area plsu side streets filled with more than 400 vendors, according to TokyoMetro. Those include tons of bargain and discount stores selling (among other things):
- Asian import foods
- Antique candies
- Discount U.S. military goods
- Medicine supplies
If getting the lowest price is your goal, this area is for you. Unlike other shopping districts in Japan — where prices are strictly set — haggling and bargaining are expected here, even encouraged. What’s more is that wise-and-elderly Japanese locals are sometimes good-willed enough to help troubled foreigners strike a better buy with the street vendors. But here are some tips to try to do it on your own.
While it’s an undeniably busy area most of the time, Okachimachi maintains a pretty relaxed tone. It’s a place to hang out, eat a few kebabs, visit some of the yatai food stands and immerse yourself in the downtown city vibe.
While there are a few shady spots in the area that offer various forms of adult entertainment, Okachimachi — like many of its neighbors — has seen a massive cleanup effort in the past few years. More and more upscale, brand name stores and businesses are popping up around the station.
The north exit of Okachimachi station is home to Takeya, which is the oldest discount store in Tokyo. So if you do happen to miss something during your stroll through Ameya-yokocho, stop by here to check out a selection of import foods, clothing and trinkets.
Aside from Akihabara (also close by — one stop on the Yamanote line or 2.5km stroll under the tracks through the 2k540 Aki-Oka artisanal shops), which houses Tokyo’s “Electric Town,” this is one of the most popular places for souvenir shopping in Japan.