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Setagaya Boroichi: The Grand Pooh-bah Of All Flea Markets

I’d heard about the Boroichi Flea Market for ages, but never made it to one until today. Yikes, it filled every street and alleyway for BLOCKS! In classic flea market style, there was loads of crap studded liberally with actual finds, but I think I can pretty much guarantee that somewhere within this maze you can satisfy your burning desire for…

Porcelain head pillows
Porcelain head pillows
Enormous bobble-head tigers
Enormous bobble-head tigers
Kokeshi dolls
Kokeshi dolls
Demon masks w/ nose slings
Demon masks w/ nose slings
Soulful cat purses
Soulful cat purses
Kimonos of yore and not-so-yore
Kimonos of yore and not-so-yore
Useless but irresistible netsuke
Useless but irresistible netsuke
Life-size pet statues
Life-size pet statues
Traditional molds for the kind of candy that looks beautiful but tastes meh
Traditional molds for the kind of candy that looks beautiful but tastes meh
Oddly disturbing 1940s kewpie figures
Oddly disturbing 1940s kewpie figures
Shinto household shrines made of yukusugi cedar
Shinto household shrines made of rare yakusugi cedar
Hoarder stashes
Hoarder stashes
And of course, military surplus wookie suits
And of course, military surplus wookie suits

Not to mention retro toys, politically incorrect fur things, little plants that will certainly die when you forget to water them, gas masks, homemade pickles, antique pruning saws, helium-filled beetles, obi cords, lucky cat teacups, gooey rice cakes on a stick, wooden abacuses, cheap puffy jackets, drinking gourds, and much, much more.

Like all good flea markets, you have to hunt for the gems. Neener, neener, I saw this tanuki tea kettle before you!
Like all good flea markets, you have to hunt for the gems. Neener, neener, I saw this tanuki tea kettle before you!

The Setagaya Boroichi Market is every January 15-16 (so there’s still time for you to go tomorrow, if you’re reading this promptly!) and if you miss it this time, they have another one December 15-16, just in time for holiday shopping. Admission is free, and it’s open from 9:00 – 21:00. If you’d like to go the next time you’re in Japan, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

And by the way, don’t miss all the amusing stuff that you’ll only see in

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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