Ameya Yokocho got its start as a black market dealing in American goods following the end of the Pacific War — its name might stand for either “American Alley” or “Candy Store Alley”. It remains today a densely packed shopping district with a variety of bargain shops and al fresco restaurants.
“Ame Yoko”, as it’s known for short, lies along the Yamanote Line tracks near Ueno station and encompasses as many as 180 shops selling everything from cheap watches and electronics, bargain fashions and variety goods to a selection of fresh seafood and dried goods. In addition, there are a number of tiny restaurants offering al fresco dining or yatai street food.
Barkers freely mix with the crowd, lending a festive air to the shopping district. At times, visitors must pass a gauntlet of apron-clad chefs touting shish kebab.
Those who come to Ame Yoko must be prepared to face the crowds, regardless of the time of day or the weather. (OK, we admit we haven’t been during a typhoon … ) And because the area has a reputation for bargains, a large proportion of the crowd is likely to be non-Japanese as well.