FINDING EASTERN TREASURE AT THE O-I KEIBAJO FLEA MARKET
The Japanese know how to shop; it’s their number one past time, in fact if it were a sport they would excel at it so flea market shopping certainly comes as no exception. One of the biggest flea markets is O-i Keibajo Flea Market, held in the parking lot of the O-i race track every Saturday. This flea market started out with 60 stallholders and has since grown to over 600 vendors, a popularity fuelled by ‘mottainai’ – an increased awareness of the need to re-use and recycle.
On first glance the O-i Keibajo Flea market is a bit like our version of a car-boot sale, albeit floor-lickingly clean and far more organised. Cars are filled with the usual bric-a-brac, but search deeper and you’ll find some amazing vintage Japanese antiquities and artefacts. Top of our love list were the genuine vintage kimonos that were sold for as little as 300 yen (approx. £2) depending on condition and style of weave. Contrary to the bold print styles that dominated last season’s runways, traditional kimonos come far more muted with rich and elaborate linings – the more intricate the design being inconspicuously indicative of greater wealth.
Vintage Japanese Koeshi dolls were another of our favourite finds. Dating from the 1950s, the size, painting and colour of the dolls vary depending on the region of Japan they were made in.
Anything from collectible toys like Astro Boy and Doraemon Cat through to army surplus from the many US military bases based in Japan cover the other stalls. One seller explained that many vendors are from the north of Tokyo and have their pitch fee wavered in order to help with their recovery from the 2011 Tsunami Earthquakes. Although that’s not to say you can’t haggle here. The Japanese do not usually like to bargain but the O-i Keibajo Flea Market is one of the only places where it is accepted if not expected.
Boasting a strong community feel, the flea market is a colourful glimpse into Tokyo life. Families pitch up on one side and then picnic on the other. If you’re in this supercity it’s a great way to spend a morning, plus you can enjoy unrivalled ocean views as you travel on the monorail along Tokyo’s harbour.
Flea Market Location: 2-1-2 Katsushima Shinagawa-ku Tokyo
Time: 9:00-15:00 every Saturday only
Number of shops: 600
Access to Flea Market : About a 3 min walk from O-i Keibajo station, turn left at station (two stops on Monorail train from Hamamatsu-cho station), a 10 min walk from Ekaigawa station (Keihin Kyu-ko line).
THRIFT SHOPPING ON THE WEST COAST
California is famed for its effortlessly laid back look. From the beatnik boho fashion of San Francisco, through to the pared back labels that line the streets of LA, low key styling is key to harnessing your west coast style.
Head to San Francisco’s vintage strip on Haight-Ashbury street to pick up some unique designer pieces. Among our favourite destinations was vintage chain store Wasteland, a warehouse sized shop whose stock proves a master class in old meets new, selling everything from rare twenties trends through to new up-and-coming brands. Loved also among designers themselves, Wasteland has seen Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Miuccia Prada pass through its doors in search of inspiration. Our prized piece was a vintage Balmain mini bag and YSL plaid blazer.
For something a little easier on the wallet, scavengers will love Thrift Town. Selling everything from US military jackets through to vintage lingerie, simply grab a basket, roll up your sleeves and dig for treasure. What’s more when you’re ready to pay simply take your bag to the till, get it weighed and pay by the pound!