Ameya Yokocho, more familiarly known as Ameyoko is one of the biggest open-air markets found in a popular tourist destination, Ueno. Only 400 meters long, between Okachimachi and Ueno station along the Yamanote Line tracks, there is a massive selection of shops with fashion, cosmetics, medicines, and even fresh food at almost ridiculously cheap prices. This article will introduce you to some of the recommended places to see and go to guide your way around Ameyoko like a local.
What is Ameyoko?
This strip next to the tracks was the site of a black market in the years following World War Two. Back then, candy and other sweets was sold here. In fact, the name Ameyoko is thought to be an abbreviation of Ameya Yokocho, or “Sweets Alley,” even though this is disputed. Another theory says that Ame is short for “America,” as plenty of American products were also sold here back then.
These days however, hundreds of street vendors sell everything from fresh fish, dried fruit and snacks, to handbags, shoes and clothes. In fact, no one seems to know exactly how many small shops operate here. Sources online mention anything from 200 to 500, our guess is that it is closer to the latter. Most of the staff are working hard to get your attention by shouting out any special offers they might have at the time.
The bustling energy of the salesmen is indeed one of the reasons to go here, as the atmosphere is unique for Tokyo. If possible, try to go here on a weekday, as the narrow alleys tend to get unpleasantly crowded during the weekends.
If you get hungry, there are plenty of options. Delicious donburi topped with all kinds of fish and seafood can be had for cheap, as well as kebabs or a wide range of sweets and snacks. There are also plenty of izakaya in the neighborhood, serving food and drinks from the early evening until well past the last train. Most of the street vendors however close at around seven or eight pm.
Fruits: Hyakka-en (百果園)
Eating fruit on the street is something that many people do on Ameyoko Street. Hyakka-en offers cut fruit that’s ready to go. What a casual and easy way to eat fresh fruit! They have different, seasonal fruits at affordable prices. The pineapple bar is one of the most popular and is a perfect way to quench your thirst. Their colorful, energetic mood will make your day powerful!
Green Tea: Chano-Kiminoen (茶の君野園)
Chano-Kiminoen has delicious Japanese green tea from across the country! They’ve been in the tea business for over ninety years and absolutely know what they are doing. Their famous matcha soft-serve ice cream is undeniably tasty but what we recommend for you is to taste is their matcha for 100 yen. They have more than two hundred kinds of teaware on the second floor too. Feel the history of tea in Ueno by visiting this shop!
Korean takeout snack: Uncle Joe
Uncle Joe is the Korean takeout snack stand that everyone loves! Tteokbokki, hotteok, colorful boba tea… they have all those trendy Korean snacks. You will love the way that you can choose various toppings for tteokbokki and different flavors for hotteok. Rice cakes in a spicy gochujan sauce will make you never want to stop eating! As for hotteok, you can choose from honey, cheese or red bean paste in their delicious cinnamon pancakes.
Fish-shaped sweets: Taiyaki Kandaruma (たいやき神田達磨)
Taiyaki is a Japanese sweet that you can find on the street. It is a fish-shaped cake with red bean paste inside. Kandaruma cherishes taiyaki’s long history and the traditional way of making them. The wings are crispy in a way that might remind you of eating rice crackers. Crunchy wings, sweet red bean paste surrounded by a fluffy cake and slightly chewy mochi-ish texture… your mouth will be busy enjoying all these different textures!
Fresh seafood: Minatoya-shokuhin (みなとや)
Do you want to eat fresh seafood in an energetic, market-like restaurant? Minatoya-shokuhin has the perfect atmosphere to suit your needs! Their kaisen-don (fresh sashimi on top of a rice bowl) is their must-try menu item! It’s crowded, especially during lunch time but you will understand why when you taste their great sashimi at a very affordable price. They also have good takoyaki (a ball- shaped dough with a small piece of octopus inside).
Roast Chicken: Chickenman Ameyoko branch (チキンマン)
Chickenman is a specialty roast chicken shop, which is known as the “Master of chicken in the kitchen”. The Ameyoko branch has a lighthearted ambience, with great food and wonderful drinks! They offer a whole chicken if you’re feeling wild! If you are not wild enough to take a big bite, they can cut your chicken into pieces, so no worries. They sure are the master of chicken!
Meat Cutlet: Niku no Oyama (肉の大山)
Niku no Oyama is famous for their Menchi-Katsu, deep-fried minced meat cutlets. If you grab their cutlets full of juicy meat, you will definitely get plenty of energy to walk around the city! You can take out their most popular menu item, Yamitsuki-Menchi for 120 yen or Yamitsuki-croquette for 60 yen. They also have seats inside with a lot more menu items and beer! As you can imagine, their cutlets are best matched with a cold beer!
Chinese steamed bun: Heisei Fuku Jun (Ameyoko)
If you want delicious and filling food at an affordable price, Heisei Fukujun will never leave you disappointed! Their agepan (fried bread) soaked in soymilk and their xiaolongbao are popular items with everyone. But their regular customers also love to have their skewered lamb sticks. You can easily order too much, as the food comes in unexpectedly large portions. Let your stomach enjoy a big Chinese feast in a bustling atmosphere!
The easiest way to get is to Ameyoko is to take the Yamanote-line to either Ueno or Okachimachi stations. Naka-Okachimachi and Ueno-Hirokoji on the Tokyo Metro are also located nearby.READ MORE
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