I went to Ameyoko street many times in the past and was always somewhat overwhelmed by the crowd and the hyper-activity of the place. The peak is definitely new year's eve, when thousands of people come there to buy fresh fish, crabs, mentaiko, tako and other nice things for the new-year's many family meals to come.
We went there on December 31st a few years ago and I was definitely stressed out by the ultra compact crowd, matching the rush hour on the Yamanote line on a week day... Certainly not my favorite environment!
But yesterday I decided it was time to give it another try and attempt at documenting the place a bit.
All the acceptable pictures taken this morning are in the gallery here.
The whole street starts business after the war, selling US army surplus, hence the name that stuck all that time. Now you'll find a couple of surplus shops, but overall it's become more of a diversified market with many fish shops where you can negotiate, all kinds of clothes shops, some sports goods, bags, shoes, etc.
I managed to survive to a few round trips down the street and take a couple of acceptable shots, despite the crowd.
There are some nice shops like the one on the right, where you find dried mackerel, the one you slice into weightless petals on your takoyaki.
Most of the fish and crab at the shops are either dried of frozen, which is quite expected in such a place. But the prices are usually extremely competitive.
As always in Japan, you'll find shrines anywhere and everywhere.
Ameyoko is no exception, however surprising it can be in such a place, cramped under the railway tracks.
The shrine is a nice island of relative tranquility, dominating the street one story above ground.
And again as anywhere in Japan the restaurants and equivalent are legion. The whole Ueno area is of course filled with restaurants and izakaya, but the Ameyoko streets are especially populated with those small shops selling all kinds of yakitori or ramens on makeshift tables in the most improbable places. From early morning those shops fill the streets with flavours and smoke from their cooking.
Anyway, I am glad I went there today to have a different point of view on this neighborhood. Although completely different from many areas in Tokyo, this is nonetheless a very representative part of Tokyo.