Today we went to the Setagaya Boroichi flea market, which has been held for over 400 years now and supposed to hold over 700 stalls of mostly second-hand stuff. We took the normal trains to the Sangenjaya station, which wasn't busy at all. There we had to hop over to the Setagaya line and at the station it was packed already. We made a joke that with this amount of people it would probably be a single car only line, but unfortunately we were right! We were packed inside with a bunch of old grannies, but of course some younger parents wanted to enter with a children's carriage too. We felt like sardines in a can, when we had to squeeze even tighter. A few stops later, everybody got off and we followed the crowd to the beginning of the market.
Some markets stalls thought ahead and had set up their food stalls at the beginning, catching everyone to and from the station. We saw someone was roasting dango, mochi balls on a stick; very good taste! When we entered the real market, it was packed. Japan can already be very busy in certain areas, but even for Japanese standards this was bad. Especially the elderly, although smaller than the rest, knew how to put their elbows to 'good' use and regularly walked around with carriage strollers, running over everyone's feet. It was like the rest of the crowd was invisible to them. It was well organized though, with police making sure it was safe to cross roads and with a 'tower' to overlook the crowd for any problems, but since the crowd was Japanese, I expect that no incidents took place.
The market itself consisted of stalls with pottery, clothes, antiques, toys and lots of things to eat. It was nice to look at, although we regularly had to fight the 'flow' to look at some stalls, but we didn't see much that drew our attention, except of course at the very beginning. We didn't buy anything there at first, but when we were at the end, we decided to walk around the streets with stalls and go to that stall again. It sold lamps made from hyotan, which is a vegetable that, instead of eaten, can also be dried, emptied and then be used as a container. It has been known to be used as a water or wine container throughout Africa, Asia and (medieval) Europe. Turning them into lamps is a nice modern alternative however!
As we were finished walking around rather early, and we had met enough elbowing grannies for one day, we went to the Tokyo Dome where a food festival was held, but when we arrived we saw people standing in long queues for entering (and no-one coming out), so we knew it would be way too busy inside. So we took another turn and walked around the area where we ran straight into… hordes of cosplayers! Some sort of cosplay meeting had been organized there and we saw hundreds of cosplayers in their fancy outfits. It reminded us of the Dutch anime/manga-conventions although they can never compete with Japan by sheer numbers of course.
Instead of taking a straight road back, we took a slight detour to Akihabara, where, surprisingly, the main road was blocked for traffic and everyone was walking freely across. We looked around a bit and searched (in vain) for a power supply for the Xbox360. After giving up the search we went to a restaurant on top of Yodobashi Camera, which mixed an Eastern and Western cooking style. We ate our spaghetti with hashi (chop sticks), the pasta toppings had a Japanese taste and cut our small pizzas in pieces with scissors. It was surprisingly nice though! After dinner, we had completed the round trip of Tokyo and decided to go home.