Posted on: September 17, 2010 at 2:05AM
There is now minimal need to patronize any of Tokyo's invariably overpriced antique shops -- unless if it's simply to study up on what to buy -- because at these antique markets you will find dealers with great varieties of stock and more than anxious to discount prices and offer more than one item at collective bargaining rates. Find a flaw, no matter how small it is, and graciously point it out, offering say 35% to 40% off the asking price. Virtually all the dealers can be negotiated with for a hefty discount. It's one of the few places in Japan where haggling is allowed and indeed expected. From tansus to smaller furnishings to kimonos, art, calliography, fabrics, porcelains, pottery, scrolls, and all kinds of unusual and aesthetically intriguing bric-a-brac, the antique fairs vary in size and array of goods. The event at Yasukuni Shrine, for example, has dealers selling cheap reproductions and more touristy, schlocky "junk", while the very large Heiwajima event (ask your concierge for dates), which will tire you out from sheer visual overload, offers a very wide range of things and dealers from many corners of the country. The best regularly scheduled antique market now is not at Nogi or Togo (both of which have shrunk dramatically in size and are not for the serious shopper anymore) but in the sleek, open aitrium of the chic Tokyo International Forum, minutes on foot from Tokyo's legendary 1890 Imperial Hotel. It's canceled in the event of rain but is normally held from 8:30 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. each 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. Before you actually buy anything, circulate and inspect the goods and compare prices and ask questions. Many dealers carry goods they know little about and it is from them that the more substantial bargains can be had. But you as a buyer need to know your stuff. Foreign dealers in Japan often seem to suffer from high price syndrome, probably because they cannot get the wholesale prices the Japanese dealers can. Dealers will deliver to hotels and the capital's top 5 star properties like The Imperial offer excellent shipping services to your home country.