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Setagaya Rag Market

Posted on by miyakokouji
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The rag market is held in Setagaya every year on December 15 and 16, and January 15 and 16. There are approximately 750 stands, and 200,000 people visit the massive flea market each day. The market, which has been going on for over 400 years, is designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. It is called a rag market, so naturally there are a lot of old kimono but there are also antiques, used books, food items, potted plants, home altars, toys, and more for sale. Setagaya was once a post station located on the midpoint between Edo and Odawara, and in 1578, the daimyo of Odawara, Hojo Ujimasa, introduced a raku-ichi market there which was the precursor to the present-day rag market. The raku-ichi, a type of free market which eliminated tax and vested interests in order to stimulate the economy, was established in many castle towns by daimyo during the Sengoku period. Over time, eras and leaders changed and the raku-ichi fell into decline, but the common people continued holding markets to sell things like farm tools and used clothing, and these have remained to this day. The rag market is a fun place to walk amongst the crowds and look for hidden treasures, and it’s also a fun way to imagine how things must have been in the old days. I live nearby, so I go to the rag market every year. It was a cold day, so I bought some hot amazake to drink near the entrance of the market and started my rambling and rummaging. I spotted a carved wooden bear, gripping the classic salmon in its jaws. Then, a stuffed tanuki, standing upright. A toy cat that dances when music is played. A complete set of Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Products made by prisoners, with a portion of the proceeds going towards supporting their reform. Dolls of Kin and Gin, the twin sisters who lived to be 100 years old. There is always a wide range of stuff available, from the extremely practical to the completely frivolous. My spoils from this trip was a branding iron. There just happened to be one with my last name on it, so after some haggling I managed to get it for ¥3,000. I know what you’re saying, what am I going to do with a branding iron? But since I’ve got it, I’ve been branding my pancakes, my fish sausage, the skin of my oranges and all over the place. I get a grand feeling of ownership from all this so I really feel like I got my money’s worth. Once you get tired from shopping, it’s time for a mochi break with the rag market’s famous Daikan Mochi. I love mochi (sticky rice cakes) and I make sure to pick some up every year. There’s always a lineup and sometimes it takes over an hour to get through, but the freshly-pounded mochi is only available here. There are three kinds available: sweet bean paste (anko), grated daikon (karami) and toasted soybean powder (kinako). They’re all ¥600 each. They’re pretty big, so you might get yourself in trouble if you’re greedy and buy all three. There’s a spot to sit and eat right beside the stall, and they provide hot tea to drink. So to wrap up, the Setagaya rag market has everything from altars to toys, the sacred to the mundane; it is a flea market that will take care of all your worldly desires and appetites. Every year, December 15 – 16, January 15 – 16 9:00 – 21:00 For more information: Setagaya Boro-ichi Hozonkai 1-23-5 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku 03-3439-1108

The rag market is held in Setagaya every year on December 15 and 16, and January 15 and 16. There are approximately 750 stands, and 200,000 people visit the massive flea market each day. The market, which has been going on for over 400 years, is designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. It is called a rag market, so naturally there are a lot of old kimono but there are also antiques, used books, food items, potted plants, home altars, toys, and more for sale. Setagaya was once a post station located on the midpoint between Edo and Odawara, and in 1578, the daimyo of Odawara, Hojo Ujimasa, introduced a raku-ichi market there which was the precursor to the present-day rag market. The raku-ichi, a type of free market which eliminated tax and vested interests in order to stimulate the economy, was established in many castle towns by daimyo during the Sengoku period. Over time, eras and leaders changed and the raku-ichi fell into decline, but the common people continued holding markets to sell things like farm tools and used clothing, and these have remained to this day. The rag market is a fun place to walk amongst the crowds and look for hidden treasures, and it’s also a fun way to imagine how things must have been in the old days.

I live nearby, so I go to the rag market every year.
It was a cold day, so I bought some hot amazake to drink near the entrance of the market and started my rambling and rummaging. I spotted a carved wooden bear, gripping the classic salmon in its jaws. Then, a stuffed tanuki, standing upright. A toy cat that dances when music is played. A complete set of Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Products made by prisoners, with a portion of the proceeds going towards supporting their reform. Dolls of Kin and Gin, the twin sisters who lived to be 100 years old. There is always a wide range of stuff available, from the extremely practical to the completely frivolous.

My spoils from this trip was a branding iron. There just happened to be one with my last name on it, so after some haggling I managed to get it for ¥3,000. I know what you’re saying, what am I going to do with a branding iron? But since I’ve got it, I’ve been branding my pancakes, my fish sausage, the skin of my oranges and all over the place. I get a grand feeling of ownership from all this so I really feel like I got my money’s worth.

Once you get tired from shopping, it’s time for a mochi break with the rag market’s famous Daikan Mochi. I love mochi (sticky rice cakes) and I make sure to pick some up every year. There’s always a lineup and sometimes it takes over an hour to get through, but the freshly-pounded mochi is only available here. There are three kinds available: sweet bean paste (anko), grated daikon (karami) and toasted soybean powder (kinako). They’re all ¥600 each. They’re pretty big, so you might get yourself in trouble if you’re greedy and buy all three. There’s a spot to sit and eat right beside the stall, and they provide hot tea to drink.

So to wrap up, the Setagaya rag market has everything from altars to toys, the sacred to the mundane; it is a flea market that will take care of all your worldly desires and appetites.

Every year, December 15 – 16, January 15 – 16
9:00 – 21:00
For more information:
Setagaya Boro-ichi Hozonkai
1-23-5 Setagaya, Setagaya-ku
03-3439-1108