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Flea Markets

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This is a great market that happens every first and third Sunday of the month in the heart of Tokyo. There are a lot of high quality antiques and things are expensive, but it’s fun to walk through and see what’s here.

 

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There is some good stuff, from a variety of Kokeshi , traditional Japanese wooden dolls (above left), to antique textiles and woven baskets (above right). I find a great book with samples of woven fabrics pasted into it (below left).

 

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Some of the vendors carefully place their items like museum objects.

 

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There are a lot of figurines, handcrafted toys and masks.

 

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Bake-danuki (above right) have many special powers that bring good fortune. These racoon dogs have eight important traits. The big tail provides strength and stability in the attainment of success, large eyes give the vision to make sound judgments, a sake bottle represents virtue, a large hat protects against the elements, a promissory note represents confidence and trustworthiness, the big belly shows sage decisions with a calm mind, a friendly smile is for good nature in all things, and large testicles represent good financial fortune for the future.

I find a boro blanket in a pile of stuff (below left) and vintage tea cups (above left).

 

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http://www.antique-market.jp/eng/

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This flea market is held on the first of every month and it’s probably the last one that I’ll be visiting on this trip, so I’m hoping to find something good.

 

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There are piles of fabrics, especially kimonos, everywhere. I sort through some and find a few things.

 

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This tree bends across the pathway in front of the shrine. It’s wrapped with red silk so you don’t run into it. I almost do anyway!

 

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There isn’t a lot of boro, which I’m always looking for, but I do see a few pieces. There is a nice example of a boro coat (above) and I see a vendor using a piece as a tablecloth. I ask if it’s for sale, he thinks for a moment, and then replies that it’s 10,000 yen. I decide it’s not worth it since I’ve seen better.

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Today is my first full day in Kyoto and I’m out the door at 7am to visit the flea market that’s held every month at Toji Temple. “The flea market is affectionately known as “Kobo san,” in honorable reference to Kobo Daishi. Since his death occurred on the 21st day of the month, it has become a tradition to hold a memorial service for him on the 21st day of every month. Eventually, merchants appeared to cater to the many pilgrims who flocked to the temple at these times and before long this evolved into the flea market we see today.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2012/07/15/travel/on-the-trail-of-treasures-at-toji-temple/#.UZthvIWCgy4

The market is interesting because of the wide range of stuff that’s for sale. There are vintage textiles, ceramics and hair combs, but also new merchandise and trinkets for those looking for a deal. Pickled vegetables are piled high (bottom left) and a piles of fabric fill the pathways (bottom right).

 

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Red silk (above left) is very expensive. I manage to find a good size piece for 400 yen. To the right of the market, there are flowers and plants for sale (above right).

 

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I stop for some sugared dried fruit (left) and I’m also tempted by the roasted garlic (right). It smells delicious and mixes with the incense in the air.

 

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There are many stalls selling bundles of pine (bottom left).

 

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I’m shocked by how inexpensive things are. I realize that the markets that I’ve been going to in Tokyo are extremely overpriced. I find some good examples of boro fabric and I imagine that one piece will be priced at 13,000 yen like I’ve seen in Tokyo, but when I ask the seller, she says it’s 2000 yen and the other 1000! That’s about $30! I take both! My booty pile from the market (left) and details of the boro (right).

 

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This antique fair is for serious buyers and sellers and things are more expensive than the shrine sales and flea markets that I’m used to. I do run into a few of the same people selling textiles that I recognize from the Kawagoe market though.

 

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I discover a plastic bag in the corner of a booth and open it, finding some great boro pieces piled inside. I’m really excited, but before I can even take a picture, the antique dealer returns and is angry at me for looking through it. I have no idea what he’s saying, but I have to leave it. I also find a great little textile book with scraps of woven fabrics pasted inside (upper right).

Since my first attempt at stencil making, I have a new found respect for the complicated indigo patterns that I come across (upper left).

 

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Beautiful vintage wave design.

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Every 28th day of the month, no matter what day, there is a flea market at Naritasan Betsuin Temple in Kawagoe. It’s my luck that April 28th falls on a Sunday and it’s a beautiful spring day. The light is stark and bright.

 

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The flea market is fantastic. There are many textiles to choose from, but I’m looking for Boro which is highly collectable.

 

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I find it!

Boro blanket (detail)