The bustling market area south of Ueno Station, Ameyokochō (アメ横丁), extends nearly half a kilometre along the west side of the elevated JR train lines down to Okachimachi Station. The name is an abbreviation of “Ameya Yokochō”, or “Candy Sellers’ Alley”, dating from the immediate postwar days when sweets were a luxury and the hundreds of stalls here mostly peddled sweet potatoes coated in sugar syrup (daigakuimo). Since rationing was in force, black-marketeers joined the candy sellers, dealing in rice and other foodstuffs, household goods and personal possessions. Later, American imports also found their way from army stores onto the streets here, especially during the early 1950s during the Korean War, which is when the market was legalized. Today, Ameyokochō still retains a flavour of those early days: gruff men with sandpaper voices shout out their wares; stalls specializing in everything from bulk tea to jewellery and fish line the street; and there’s a clutch of yakitori bars under the arches.

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